goodbye to my dad

young dad

The burial service went well enough. More people came for the short service than I expected. I like some of the little old ladies from their church. I think Pastor was born to speak in an evangelical church. But he is a kind man and was always there for Mom and Dad, showing up at the hospital whenever Mom was admitted, even in the middle of the night. He means well.

It’s hard to know what to say about Dad or how to let go. I was looking around the internet, seeking help to find the words, and I found this song. So much truth the tears finally came. He was not a perfect man – he was in fact sometimes incredibly mean – but I also saw him trying. And I will miss the man he could have been, the man I maybe did not see as often as I would have liked. And I do appreciate that he tried.

Goodbye to My Dad by David Roth

The old guy got sick, faded real quick
My sister and I took two planes to Chicago
Some hospital room on a Tuesday at noon
A fearful and frail eighty four year old man

Who once was so proud, always barking out loud
Now I’m helping him go to the bathroom
His place in the world once secured by a snarl
Now reduced to reluctant dependence

Two-door red sedan, that’s what he drove
Now I’m out on Lake Shore, and I roll down his window
I was always amazed how an angry old man
Could make another grown man feel seven years old

“Are you making a living?” he’d snap out at me
“You’re not getting much younger,” that’s all he would say
It was fear that was talking, and that’s where he hid
And the Wizard of Oz passed it on to his kids

It was different for him, he did not have the tools
And now here his two children with the luxury to choose
We’ve chosen families and he moved away
On the day I got married, that’s where he stayed

The last time we talked he was getting so weak
I was holding his hand, it was all he could do just to speak
Brought my mouth to his ear
I sang him two songs in a whisper

Then I kissed him goodbye, and we left him alone
About four in the morning we all heard the phone
He died how he lived, by himself, in his sleep
There was loss, there was pain and reprieve and relief

My very worst critic had drawn his last breath
And now what would I learn from my own father’s death
I won’t miss the judgment, the guilt or neglect
And I’ll forgive who I love, but I will not forget

“I don’t need a thing” that’s what he would say
If I tried to get close he just pushed me away
But I did what I could and that’s all that you can
And I let the rest go
I let the rest go
Oh, I let the rest go

And said goodbye to my dad

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6 thoughts on “goodbye to my dad”

  1. Beautiful lyrics–so REAL. Saying goodbye is hard, no matter what the relationship. I’ve always identified with this Robert Anderson quote: “Death ends a life, but it does not end a relationship, which struggles on in the survivor’s mind toward some final resolution, some clear meaning, which it perhaps never finds.”

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    1. Oh, Margaret, that is so true. And something that is so hard to express. That’s what I mean when I say I will miss the man he could have been. I wish things had been different but they weren’t and there were good things as well. And you never totally resolve that, I think.

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    1. Oh, I agree with that Ally. I spent a lot of my younger years bitter and angry. It took a long time to accept that he did the best he could and mostly be okay with that.

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  2. It was when I saw my parents stricken with their terminal ailments that I grieved the most. Once they were gone, the process was mostly behind me, except for those “voids” at the holidays. But everyone grieves in his or her own way. Hoping that you will find peace.

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    1. That’s very true Guy. I know it’s different for some people, but I feel I’ve been grieving them for years and it doesn’t feel that different now. So many times over the years I would suddenly think, oh I need to call Mom and tell her that – and then remember that I couldn’t. I still have those thoughts now and my feelings are about the same when I realize I’ll never do that again. With Dad it’s a little different because, as was said in the song, the aspect of reprieve and relief. But I am finding peace with those feelings as well.

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