He died at 12:05am, January 2, 1998.
Like so many things in my life, this whole SMC journey would be very different if he were still with me. I know for a fact that he would struggle with it — that he would be afraid that I was saying the role he played in my life was not important because of my saying that I could raise a child without a father. (We actually had a piece of that discussion before he died. I wish we had finished it.)
On the flip side, I believe he would be proud of me and support me and tell me I will be a good mother. And I know he’d be a wonderful father figure to have in my child’s life.
See, my parents had reverse roles in a lot of ways. My mother was the disciplinarian and day to day caretaker. She was the parent I was afraid to cross. She was the one who accused me of stalling when I wanted a hug and a kiss before bed.
My father, on the other hand, was the one who read bedtime stories and sang (off key) to us – when he was home in time. My father was the parent who went to church and took us with him – if we wanted (and I probably went more to get away from my mom and to spend time with him than because I liked church – at least at first). He was the parent who cried at special occasions. He was the one who loved to plan for Christmas and dressed up with us at Halloween. He supervised our evening baths and, I recently learned, he played tooth fairy. While both parents took me camping, I remember the trips with my Dad more – I think he was more dedicated to making it happen every year. He was the one who got most involved in helping me pick a college, though my mother dragged me to visit my second and third place choices. He was the one who noticed when I got homesick at school.
He was the sweet loving parent.
This is not to discount my mother’s importance. She is the practical one. And she was the one who fed us and shuttled us around to activities. And she still does that, to this day. In fact, she’ll be driving me to and from both the retrieval and transfer. And she was also the one who cared for us when we were sick. She actually has a gift for caring for sick children and infants – she can care for those who are physically in need extremely well (I’ve never been to the emergency room without her). That’s how she shows her love and support.
But, my father was special. And I miss him most sorely on special occasions. He would have cried at all my graduations. He would have come to my new church with me – especially when I joined. He would have given me a huge hug and perhaps a pep talk- or at least a reminder that he loved me and thought I’d be a good mom after each Big Fat Negative pregnancy test. These are things that just aren’t within my mother’s arsenal – I will go nuts if I try to get these things from her.
And I want these things for my child. But, I can be these things. I AM these things.
It saddens me that my child won’t know my father, directly. But, I know that I have my father’s heart. I even have his job (he was a lawyer, too). I have his coloring and his ability to show love. I have his tendency to cry at special occasions and I have his (lack) of musical ability. And like him, I’ll be the one to read to my child bedtime stories and then sing (off key) to my child. I will be the one to take my child to church.
In a way, my child may end up having a childhood much like mine. My mother may be the one providing a lot of the day to day care and shuttling my child to activities. And I will be much more like my father – doing bath time and bedtime and Tooth Fairy and Santa – and offering a hug and a pep talk or a reminder of my love when it’s needed. And, I suppose, that will have to be okay.