May 29 was the 4 year marker of losing Mom, and June 3 marked 4 months since the loss of Dad. Of course, I already knew there would be something (maybe many things) different about the loss of Dad from the loss of Mom. That has borne itself out to be true.
One of the ways was expected, the other not so much.
I expected the loss of Dad would be different in the experience of what I call the “orphan syndrome.” That’s what occurs when you are a child, even an adult child, who has lost both parents. I have definitely felt the loss of both parents now in a way that has an entirely different emphasis than when we lost Mom, and still had Dad.
The more unexpected difference since the loss of Dad has been the tension I have experienced between the unresolved parts of our relationship and the true desire I have to honor his memory.
To be clear, when Dad died, and since, I have had no regrets. We had a good relationship, and I was able to spend a considerable amount of time with Dad in his last couple of years. It wasn’t an easy task since I had moved across country four years before he died.
The unresolved parts are not regrets for me. They are the parts of life we never talked about simply because Dad wasn’t a “talker.” I long ago released trying to get him to talk and answer my questions, recognizing the value of just being present with him even if all we were doing was watching TV.
For the last year or so, my siblings and I have made a habit of meeting by video every Sunday night. Dad lived with my brother. An inside joke was how long Dad would be on the call before he declared, “y’all take care now!”, which meant he was done talking. I think his record was about 15-20 seconds!
I didn’t expect the unresolved parts to be an issue that would be in tension with my deep desire to honor his memory as well. I’m not done with it and don’t have answers. Not sure I will have them when all is said and done.
However, I did recently hear a counselor talk about family of origin issues, and an individual’s common pushback to doing that work by saying, “I thought we were supposed to honor our parents.” The counselor simply said, “there’s nothing more honoring than telling the truth.”
That statement has brought a measure of freedom from that tension for me. Maybe this Father’s Day, it will to you too. This will be my first without being able to hear his voice, and I already feel the missing of him as the day approaches.
For more regarding the topic of honor and honesty check out this article by The Allender Center: https://theallendercenter.org/2018/06/fathers-day-honor-honesty/