Tuesday, June 14, 2011

My Father. My Son.

Today my adorable little boy turns two years old. If my father were alive, he would be 68 years old today. My father died suddenly of a heart attack when I was 14, so he wasn't there to walk me down the aisle when I got married and he never got to meet my two, wonderful children. However, fate has ensured that he will be forever connected to my son in one very special way.

June 13, 2009. After nearly a week of on-again, off-again contractions that almost sent us to the hospital a dozen different times, it was finally time. As we drove to the hospital, we crossed the lake, the sun glinting off the water on a warm, nearly-summer night. To my immense relief, when we arrived, I was far enough along to get checked in and epiduraled immediately. The doctor who would deliver me volunteered to break my water for me in order to speed things up. "Unless you'd rather wait until tomorrow for him be born," she said, somewhat jokingly --assuming no one would ever want to prolong labor. Actually, we would like to wait. And he was born the next day, my dad's birthday.

My father was a wonderful dad and by all accounts, a great guy. After he died, it felt like so many people came and shared their memories of him with us, which was a wonderful gift. People told us of kind things he'd done for them, as far back as when he was in high school. Even though I didn't get to have him around for nearly long enough, I feel incredibly lucky that the time I did have with him was so good. I just wish my husband and kids had gotten the chance to meet him as well.

I think that anyone who's lost a parent at a young age wonders how things would be different if that parent had lived longer. I wonder which choices in life I might have made differently if my dad had been around. I wonder how he and my husband would have gotten along. I wonder if he would come over and help my husband with home improvement projects, were he still here. I wonder what it would have been like to have seen him playing with my kids now that they're toddlers or what it would have been like to have seen him holding them as babies. His absence is not just a loss for me but for my whole family.

Though they will never meet, I feel like my son and my father have a special bond because they share the same birthday. Though I may be projecting, I also feel like their bond goes beyond that. In looking at the youngest pictures of my dad, I marvel at how much my son looks like my father as a toddler. My son got a workbench from Santa this past Christmas and he loves playing with it and is endlessly fascinated by power tools. My dad was very handy around the house and sometimes I can almost see them sitting side-by-side, working on a project together, my dad teaching my little guy how to hammer, screw and drill. Of course this will never be but that's just another aspect of my dad that I can see in my son.

My father loved to play softball. In fact, he was on the field, in the middle of a game when he died. His mitt is one of the strongest tokens of him that exists for me. That old, ratty thing's been around for as long as I can remember. Last year, my mom gave it to my little guy for his first birthday. I was incredibly touched and loved that my son would have something of my dad's that was so sentimentally important to me. It's now hanging in his room.

While I'll never get my dad back, in some ways, my little boy has brought parts of him back for me, which is a wonderful gift. His very presence and their shared birthday helps me remember and appreciate my dad, for which I'll always be grateful.

We're linking up with the wonderful, oh-so-readable, Bees with Honey again this week. Pay her a visit and tell her we say hi.

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