In America it is Father’s Day. And whilst I celebrate the solid Dads out there, I am missing my own with a lump in my throat.
I equally hate and am honoured that I was the final person to be with my Dad when he ended his journey on that rainy January morning. I knew it had to be me, an ambassador for my Mum and 4 Brothers. But also I was resolute that there was no way I was going to leave him alone.
I slept on and off in the large chair in his hospital room. Then a change in his breathing had me look up at the clock on the wall. 4:00 am. With only the hallway light coming through the door, I moved over to him and put one hand on his chest and the other in his hand. I stayed that way, my eyes on him and on the clock, realising only then what was about to happen.
In his final breath, at 4:19 am, I felt him deflate and depart, like a mist in his last exhale.
I miss my Dad. I miss him calling me Pal. I miss talking to him about golf tournaments on TV. I miss sharing my work with him. I miss the physical completeness of our Lucky 7. I miss that he ate hamburgers with coffee.
Paul and I shared that our Dad feels very much present in our lives. In no way has he abandoned us, he’s sitting to the right of our hearts and still very much a part of our daily decisions. We consider that a testimony to what it means to be a Dad.
Recently, my Dad visited my Mum three times, in what she is calling a waking dream.
On the first visit she heard him breathing first, then could touch him. She asked him if he was okay. He said he was. She asked him if her parents were alright. He said they were.
On his second visit she heard again first his breathing and reached out for him. She asked him once more if he was okay and he said yes.
On the third visit, hearing him breathing and able to touch him, my Mum asked my Dad if he could stay. He told her he couldn’t.
My Mum said that third visit was so real that she got up and looked around the house for something that may have been moved.
My family are active night dreamers, all our lives. When I have dreamt of my Dad, he looks like my Dad from about ten years ago. That is what I expect from my dreams.
When I asked my Mum what Dad looked like in those visits she said, without hesitation, that he looked like nothing. It was his voice but in a formless entity, like a concentrated mass of air that she could touch.
The moment she said that, I thought, like I always knew: That’s right. That’s right.
It is impossible to ignore that her experience is something more profound beyond the dreams that we dream.
There are many things I miss about my Dad. But most I miss speaking his name. Dad.
Last night, in the kitchen, I called out to him. It came out in the form of a question.
The sound echoed for a few seconds, then disappeared into silence. I felt silly. I stood there for a minute, wiped the tear off my cheek, locked the back kitchen door, closed the lights and called it a day.
Today feels very personal. I don’t want to talk to anyone. I just want to be quiet for awhile … maybe run out and find something for dinner tonight. Pesto meatballs sounds pretty good. The final day of PGA at Pebble Beach is this afternoon. I’ll be front and centre.
Whaddya say Pal? Rory? Brooks? Or will Gary Woodland continue the lead to the 18th?
Happy Day Papa.