Just a reminder to anyone who feels like cheering me and helping me honor my dad on my first Father’s Day following his death: Pretty please with sugar on top, put a penny out (heads up) somewhere, then snap a quick picture of it and email it to me at email@example.com or post it on my Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/emilypageart/. I love you to pieces (large ones so that you’re easy to put back together again). You’re the best.
Hey all you fabulous peeps out there, I’m requesting a little help. As you know, Father’s Day is on Sunday, and, well, I’m in a downright panic. This will be my first fatherless Father’s Day. I want to do something to honor my dad, but I also don’t want to leave the house for fear that I’ll see dads with their daughters and I’ll lose my shit in public. So I’d like to ask you all for a favor. If you feel so inclined, please put a penny (heads side up) somewhere for a stranger to find, and snap a quick picture of it (with or without your lovely face next to it). Then email it to me at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to my Facebook page. Thank you in advance for your awesomeness. You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.
Flipping through my alma mater’s alumni magazine (titled this time, “The Writer’s Issue”), I was searching for possible future contacts once my book is ready to promote. When I was done, I did what I always do: flip to the Class Notes in the back. I generally skip over the older people and see if I know anyone from the years I attended that are having babies, or getting married, or dying, or changing the world. While flipping to the back, my eye caught the bottom right corner that had my dad’s obituary. I remember submitting it to the university when we sent the obit out to the world, but it honestly hadn’t occurred to me to look for it, so it caught me totally by surprise. I hate that. I hate when it knocks the breath out of you for that second. I hate the tears that come unexpectedly. I hate reading the date of his death.
I’ve been trying so hard to insulate myself from the onslaught of Father’s Day promotions, protecting myself in the bubble of my home. I avoid movies where people die. I distract myself with paint and stupid tv shows, my husband and the cats. It felt like a betrayal for the reminder to barge into my living room like that.
24 hours later, I’m still catching my breath. Repairing the bubble. Caulking the seams. Hoping the next surprise will hurt ever so slightly less.
On this Father’s Day, which may be the last one I have before my dad dies, I’m choosing to hold on tight. I’m choosing to remember who he was before the disease. I’m choosing to accept him as he is now with the disease. I’m choosing to believe that he still loves me deep down in some essential part of himself. I’m choosing to celebrate the fact that I had – for most of my life – the best dad I could ever have hoped for. I’m choosing gratitude. Thank you, Poppa Bear.
A word to the wise: If your father is dying, it is best not to leave the house or watch TV or listen to the radio for the month of June. Avoid all malls, grocery stores, florists, restaurants, bars, and anywhere with a TV or radio. The Father’s Day advertisements are EVERYWHERE, and they all tell me they know exactly what my dad wants this year. But let me tell you: He does not want the ultimate beer making kit. He does not want a tie or a mug. He doesn’t want a man-cave makeover in the basement. Nor does he have any interest in increasing his movie collection or getting tickets to see his favorite band. I already know what he wants: to pick his nose when he’s inclined, to eat the food off his neighbor’s plate at the table, to fart, poop, and pee wherever and whenever the urge presents itself, to wander at will around the dementia care facility, and to get and give hugs and kisses to anyone and everyone who smiles at him. So, until June 21st, I’m hiding in a hole I’ve dug under a rock hidden in a forest far, far away and surrounded with sound-proofed furry woodland creatures who give me wiggly-nosed kisses and don’t mind when I do all the things my dad wants to do.