This week marks a sad occasion, the 20th anniversary of the death of my dad. It was a couple of years ago that I wrote about the 20th anniversary of the death of my mom and since then, I knew this day would ultimately come. As I wrote in that post, I don’t often mark the death of a loved one but rather choose to celebrate their birthday and have done that several times in previous posts. In my dad’s case, I have other reasons for writing posts and remembering him.
If you have followed my blog for a while, you know that I am on a multi-year pilgrimage to read each and every one of my dad’s sermons that he wrote over his 40+ year career as a Presbyterian minister. On occasion, I have read one each day during Lent but more frequently it is a weekly ritual that I adhere to on Sunday mornings, just like when he was delivering them. There are times as I am reading, that I can sometimes hear my dad’s voice in my head as if he were reading the sermon just to me. It has kept me close to him in the four years since I started reading these sermons, which weekly brings me closer to him in his absence.
As with the 20th anniversary of my mom’s death, comes the realization to me that Dad has been absent for more than a third of my life. He has missed seeing most of his grandkids grow up and make their mark in life and failed to witness the birth of any of his nine great grandchildren. I know he would have loved to get to know them all.
Since my dad worked fulltime for most of his life, I do not have as many memories of him as I do our stay-at-home mom who interacted with us throughout the day. Not long after I began blogging in 2013, I wrote a post about getting a Glimpse of My Dad when I shared some of the memories, I had of Dad along with some of the wonderful praise people I barely knew shared with me after his funeral. Looking back and rereading those words I wrote over eight years ago once again brought tears flowing from my eyes as I knew this post would be as hard to write as that one was.
Thinking back about some of the memories that I have not already shared, one that came to mind was the fact that Dad helped me realize my love of cars, a love I have had all my life dating back to the bucket of small cars I kept in my crib. As a pre-teen, he took me to my first car show in Little Rock, AR and later once I was old enough, he taught me how to drive (a joy I still have every time I get behind the wheel). He also, went with me to buy my first car and signed for the loan (that I worked to repay) since I was only 17 at the time. Later in life, for Christmas or birthday presents, he would give me a 1/18 scale car model, many of which I still have. But sadly, this anniversary also marks the fact that my 2002 Mazda Miata, a car he never got to see as he was already hospitalized at the time, is also 20 years old and only the second car I have owned for over 20 years. Purchased less than six weeks before his death and ultimately paid off with some inheritance money, I don’t think I can ever sell this car.
I know this week I will be thinking a lot about Dad and reminiscing of some other memories that come to mind. I’m sure it will be a hard week but also one of joy celebrating the life my dad led and the example he set for me.
While my career in the sciences has been vastly different than my dad’s pastoral career, I still have lived my life emulating him as a loving husband and father (and now grandfather) and working hard to provide for my family while often putting other’s needs ahead of mine, just like Dad typically did. While my dad, as a role model has been out of my life for 20 years now, I still miss him. But then I just have to remember that each time I look in the mirror, deep down I can see an image of him as a reminder of the person I strive so diligently to be like.
I still love and miss you Dad!