USNA 1962, Marine Corps, A-4 Aviator, 2 Tours of Vietnam, Husband, Dad, Developer.
USNA 1962, Marine Corps, A-4 Aviator, 2 Tours of Vietnam, Husband, Dad, Developer.

Whew! Glad I got through Father’s Day.

Ya think you are so over a loss of a parent or someone you love, then boom, it hits you.

It still hurts!

A wake up call for me.

Can I get over this please?

When “it” hit me after church, I ran through my rolodex of people who would understand…Mom (gone), Aunt Jo (gone), Friends who are in same boat? I only knew a few. Call them on father’s day?  No way!  Old deep tears started welling up inside. Crap!

Thinking of Dad, searching for pictures, thinking of all the loss this past week, thinking of kids without dads. I returned to this earlier post I wrote for solace.  In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Audience of One.”

The audience is with my father who died of Agent Orange related cancer March 6, 1991 and returned from Heaven for an unexpected visit.

I am talking, he is mostly listening.

My dad walks in the room.

Dad! Daddy! Poopsee!

You are here???

My God, my God, what a surprise!

Am I dreaming?

Please sit down Daddy! We have to talk!

My handsome smiling Dad sits across the sofa from me, with his right leg crossed at an angle, and a drink steadily balanced on his right knee, just like he always did during our “talks.”

“Yes, Amy?” He asked.

Daddy….I just have to ask this first question before anything else!

What is Heaven like?

When you got there did you meet up with everyone? All our family and friends who have gone on?

Do you get to fly free, soaring high among the celestial skies?

You must be out there!

When I am traveling on a bumpy flight, I always imagine you on the wing, taking control of the plane, with that crazed smile on your face, and a peace comes over me like none other. It is very real.

We were only together for 21 years!

That was just not enough time.

I miss you still.

Quite a lesson for me.

All the words we did not say.

All the photos we did not take.

All the hugs we did not share.

Did you know how special you were to us?

In the years right after Vietnam when I was a very young, I sensed your sadness intensely. I never had a name for that behavior. You were funny and gregarious but also pensive and strict.

Thankfully, I was given the will to stay near you, maybe to soften your burdened heart on those days when I wanted to run away.

Now I know what “that” behavior was!

Your grief.

You just never talked about it.

Today we call it PTSD.

My God Daddy, how did you get though this alone?

Well, you had us, but was that really enough?

You lost your father by age five.

Then to lose you mother at age sixteen!

You were practically an orphan.

Then to follow in your fathers footsteps serving in the U.S. Marines.

You saw the best of friends die, disappear or go undercover.

When you came home from war there was no “Welcome home Solider!” “Thank you for serving!”

There was not much support for Vietnam Veterans. For this, I am so sorry. We should be ashamed. Thankfully now we seem to be doing a better job of honoring our vets and soldiers of all wars.

Daddy, despite all those hurdles you were an engaged and loving father and husband!

Thank you!!

You taught me to tie my shoes!  You played guitar for me!  You let me chew Dentyne gum (just in your car)! You snuck in our room after tucking us in to scare us and make us giggle! You took me to Don’s for lunch, grocery shopping at Jewel, shopping for Mom at the old Marshall’s, and would always take me to the bakery for one of those big yellow smiley face cookies!

You did NOT coach me in soccer or say “run, run, hustle your buns” to me from the sidelines like you did my sisters (thank you!).

To my utter shock, you told me my classmate was right when you said:

Yes Amy, Leprechauns are for real.” 

You let me draw on the back of your white undershirts. I got to have fun, and you got your back scratched, demonstrating a “win-win” early on.

Remember when you left us for a weekend seminar in 1980 called  “What Color is Your Parachute?”  You came back and immediately changed the direction of  your life. I still remember the phone call, then us waiving goodbye as you drove away in your little red car to be closer to your roots in Washington, DC, and the career you wanted.

You finally pursued your dream and passion and changed the direction of all our lives! 

In last ten years we had together, you reminded me to mind my manners always, “not to take a lazy boy load,”and brush my hair in those days as a teenager when I was into wearing black and listening to The Cure.

You tought me humility and perseverance. You were non-chalant about my win for class president. You demanded excellence in math when I complained, and constantly joked with me about my “sensitive” side and choice in dates.

When it was time to leave for college, I did not want to leave you and Mom! But you were so supportive of me being at UGA it made the transition easier. You were a true Dawg at heart!

Thank you.

I miss biking with you Dad!

Are their biking trails in Heaven?

Remember those days on the C&O Trail?

You always raced ahead of me!  I could never keep up.

Then that one day came I never ever imagined.

You were way behind me.

Looking back at you, I sensed something was really wrong.

When I questioned it, you said you had hip pain.

Oh Daddy!

We soon found out you had tumors on your hip and in your lungs.

When I had to go back to school, your lungs filled with fluid.

Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. Cancer sucks. CANCER SUCKS.

During treatment, you were amazingly calm. You renewed your passion of flying and forecasting weather. Mom took up art and Chopin.

Cancer took over your body so fast!  16 months!

We had ONLY 21 years together.

Did you see how packed the church was at your funeral?

Standing room only.

Did you see everyone crying?  It was intense. Nobody was prepared to let you go.

It was a blur.

In truth, it was really hard for me Daddy.

The last pictures I have of us are from high school!

Yep, it has been a long journey.  I am stronger for it. I have made great progress over the years in releasing grief, dealing with loss, whatever you call it, and trying to help others.

Running really helped me!

In fact, as I was headed out for a run last week, “Unchained Melody” came on my Pandora station and the wind was knocked out of me!  I immediately thought of you and mom and started to get teary! Wow!

A longing…you know?

Look who I married? You were on to something in those final words!

Look at your grandkids! You would love them!

They all resemble you, have your persistence, smarts, and sense of humor!

Can you believe you got 3 grandsons after having 3 girls?

Yes, males!  And one is a naval aviator!

All are engineers like you!

You must be so proud!!

Oh no….what did you say?  Our time is up? You have to go?

Dad, I could stay here talking with you forever.

I don’t want to leave you.

It is a dream to be with you.

I don’t want you to go now.

Thank you for listening. Thank you for being my Dad.

I love you so much.

I know you have to go back to Heaven now.

Please don’t go Dad….

I know you are not of this world anymore.

You must go. 

Thank you for visiting.

I need to go too Daddy.

My life on earth is calling.

I love you Daddy.  Always and forever. I love you.

Audience of One