Last night I tried to outrun Father’s Day. It didn’t work.
I have always been a “Daddy’s girl.” My father was not just Daddy – he was my hero, my role model, my North Star. When he died very unexpectedly (anaphylactic shock) in January my brother’s response was “The King is dead.” It felt that way. Our childhood had plenty of drama and tumult with our mom’s health issues (of all types) – but Dad was always there, always steady, solid, reliable.
I still can’t believe he’s gone.
So when the calendar turned to June, the grief I’ve been slogging through got pretty thick and murky. I have been waiting for this month, especially this day, Father’s Day, to pass.
I don’t watch TV so I haven’t been assaulted with ads there, but the radio has been nonstop with “Buy, buy, buy!” messages about this day. So last night, with time on my hands and a heavy heart I decided to outrun it. Had I felt better physically I would have outrun Father’s Day on my motorcycle, but after 3 days of being sick enough to lose 3 lbs that didn’t feel like a safe or sensible option. So I hopped in my car, drove up to Country Club Road – my refuge – and then took off on side roads, just pointing Molly Moonroof (my car) north. North – you know, as in North Star. So that was the first Dad sighting as it were. Hmm.
Then I drove by the Scandinavian cemetary (Dad was half Norwegian). When the heck did they put THAT in there – hadn’t noticed that on my rounds before. Sign for a barnstorming event (Dad was a World War II pilot). Well, hello, Daddy.
Open farm fields, corn starting to grow, old tractors. How did I think driving through rural McHenry county was going to be an escape from the guy who grew up in rural Doon, Iowa on a farm? Even the scent of cow poop, pungent in the early evening, reminded me of our grandparents farm – and Dad.
Decided to make one stop on my outrunning Father’s Day trip. There’s a little General Store in Greenwood, Illinois that looks like a store from the early 1900s except it has modern food in it. In fact, it looks a lot like R&L Foods in Doon, Iowa, now that I think of it. I had discovered this store whilst out for a motorcycle run last year, and just recently stopped there while out riding with my good friend Candace. Last year I bought an Izze soda pop there, but on Thursday, with Candace I discovered they had my favorite candy bar – Bun maple candy bar.
You see, when I was a kid in Ft. Wayne, Indiana Monsignor Manoski, the pastor of our church and thus connected to my school, St. Joseph’s, was friends with the guy who owned the Bun candy bar company. Every year when we came back from Easter weekend we would have Bun candy bar on our desk. But one year, when we were out at recess on the playground, a small plane flew over the schoolyard and dropped candy all over the playground! Bun candy bars falling from the sky!
That sense of a benevolent male, watching over me – that never felt like God to me (whom I picture more as a warm, loving chubby grandma) – but it sure felt – and feels – like my Daddy.
I guess it wasn’t my beloved Daddy – or even Father’s Day – that I was trying to outrun, but rather this deep well of grief accompanying his loss. And my best friend said it best when i called last night for consolation. She said “Many of us grieve not having fathers while our fathers are still alive. Father’s Day was problematical for me – how best to honor and celebrate this man who was my father and yet so NOT a father? But you. You really DID have the best father in the world, so his loss is huge. But you can celebrate how wonderful he was and how lucky you are.”
And that is what I will do.
So on this Father’s Day, for all of you who are missing YOUR dads too, I offer this lyric from Bob Dylan:
“I’ll look for you in old Honolulu
San Francisco, Ashtabula
Yer gonna have to leave me now, I know
But I’ll see you in the sky above
In the tall grass, in the ones I love
Yer gonna make me lonesome when you go.” ~ Bob Dylan