A very long time ago, I lost my father to ALS. It was a couple of months before my third birthday– he had gotten sick just before my first. I was so young that I really don’t have any memories of him. Some would say it’s easier since I don’t know what I’m missing, but that’s not true. I’m very aware of what I’ve missed, but also what I’ve gained.
When I was in kindergarten we had a Father’s Day breakfast. As all of my friends’ dads showed up I started to finally get it: My dad wasn’t coming. I wasn’t going to show him my picture I drew or take him to my favorite slide on the playground. I became aware of my father’s absence that day. But even though I didn’t have my dad there to share pancakes with, I wasn’t alone. My amazing mom showed up to be with me. She was the only mom there, but that didn’t faze her, nothing really does.
After that day I had some pretty hard years. I knew there was nothing to miss of a man I couldn’t remember, and yet I missed everything. I wanted him at my recitals, and to teach me how to fish or play golf (his favorite sport). I wanted us to watch football together on Sundays, and for him to be the rock I sought out on my worst days. I didn’t even know what he sounded like. Even though I had many people to tell me how much he loved me and how proud he would be of me, it wasn’t him saying those things.
It cut pretty deep for a while, and led me to look for father figures in some not good places. But then one day I looked around me and saw all the men and women I had been blessed with.
I did learn to fish and play golf and I did have someone to come to my recitals and watch football with. I also had someone who taught me how to cook. Who made sure I had everything I wanted on my Christmas list. Who picked me up when I fell down, and taught me how much worth I have in this world. I had someone who was proud of me, and never let me forget it. I had many “someones” and they all stepped up to give me the daddy I so desperately desired.
I’ve come a long way since kindergarten. It still hits me sometimes though. That he didn’t get to see me graduate high school or torment my first boyfriend, that he won’t walk me down the aisle or cry when he holds his grandchild. But in those moments I remember who will be there and who has been there for me, and I am grateful.
Oh and I did finally find some old home movies. Everyone was right, he really did love me and would be very proud.