Today I outlived my father.
Before anyone sends condolences, I should clarify. My father died in 1976. Today I am one day older than my father lived to be. I am 17,940 days old, which translates into 49 years, 1 month, and a dozen days.
How do I know this? Microsoft Excel.
Why do I know this? That’s harder to say.
Probably, it is for three reasons: Big Brother, Buster, and Big Man. If not for them, and all they’ve added to my life through fatherhood, I likely would have never thought about this milestone.
The eight years I had with my father boil down to about five years of faded memories. Beyond that, he’s mostly hearsay from others and conjecture on my part.
For most of my life, I recalled my father through the eyes of a child – the last eyes that saw him in real life. My own children have allowed me to relate to him as a father.
Children are remarkable adapters. When my father died, I adapted to the way life must be without him. I lived as children live, thinking about today, leaving yesterday behind. My mother pulled double duty to provide her children good childhoods.
Like lots of kids who lost a parent, I considered my life to be normal. I never felt sorry for myself. That hasn’t changed, but something else has. Once in a while I feel sorry for my father. This empathy is a gift to me from my own children.
As a child, I coped with, and moved past, my own loss, and that was the end of it. I didn’t consider things from a parent’s point of view. I couldn’t conceive of the tragedy of being pulled away forever from a house full of young lives embodying all your hopes and dreams. I didn’t appreciate the sadness in not being there to share the joys and sorrows.
I don’t know what comes after life, or if there is a time or place for a departed soul to feel the sting of this separation, but now I feel it for him. I feel it when I realize how precious my boys’ smiles, and even sometimes their tears, are to me. I feel it when I think about how much they have to learn and how much I need to teach them. I feel it when I realize that most times I am called by name, that name is “Daddy.”
On my father’s 17,939th day, he had eight children, aged 5 to 19. The next day, we all were forced to rebuild our lives without him. Faded, with my memories of him, is the sadness of losing him. More vivid to me now, is a sadness for his losing us.
I visit this sadness now and then. It reminds me to enjoy the great gifts of fatherhood while I can.
Scott, I think this is one of my favourite pieces you have written to date. Probably because I am big sap.
More likely because you have so eloquently put into words, one of my biggest fears when I was a parent of younger children. The fear of not being there for them should something happen to me.
Your words truly touched my heart today my friend.
Thank you, Lynn. I always worry that, with the usual tone my blog, any serious posts I write will come off as sappy. If that turns out to be the case, it’s good to know I’ll still have one reader.
My father is still alive, and you know what? I think I’ll call him right now! 🙂
I bet that makes his day.
Wow! I didn’t realize you were that many days old! You have a nice youthful heart. and of course, the most perfect outlook on life with kids. I don’t know any parent in the world who doesn’t say it went by too fast. So when is #4 due? Haha.
Yes, I’m that many days old, but having been a permanent intern at work for the past 17 years has kept me young on the inside.
What a beautiful post… I get what you are saying. So totally get it. My Dad almost turned 95, my mother is still alive and in her 70’s. They saw me grow up and have children. I hope that I will be able to do that too one day, watch my children as grown ups and be there for them if they need me, when they need me. All those milestones… But I also take every day with them as a gift.
Every day is a gift. Sometimes it’s hard to remember that. But then you clean the ice cream out of the DVD player and be happy for what you have.
Oh that just made me laugh… What did they want to produce??? An ice cream movie???
Ice cream goes with everything.
Such a beautiful, powerful post Scott. I’ve got a few tears here in honor of your father.
Dry those tears and go hug your awesome little guy.
Scott, this is one of the most heart-full posts I’ve read. It is touching and real. I’m sorry for your loss and … I’m just so happy for you right now ❤️
Thanks, Angie. Amid all the chaos of boys, it’s good to be me right now.
I have to agree with Lynn…this is the best thing I’ve read from you…other than your books off course!
I almost cried. Almost.
Hang on – you can get through this (without tears). And that was a great idea, putting in a book plug. You’re a genius.
I’m interested in your Excell spreadsheet. This sounds like a short story to me.
Anyway, a really touching piece. It’s hard to imagine what I won’t get to know about my kids. Hopefully, they will go on into life for a long haul without me and do things that are mysteriously wonderful to those of us alive today. It feels like I’ll always be there, but now that they are both at college their lives are already diverging…and that’s good because I need to watch football without interruption on the weekends.
You’ve got me thinking that I need to calculate how many more days I need to live before I can watch a game without having to go get somebody some juice when it’s fourth and inches.
Powerful post. I hardly have words.
Now I feel like I’ve pushed the RED button.
Oh, Scott. Oh wow. You have me all in knots. What a powerful and emotional piece you wrote. How proud your father would be of you today and all that you are juggling on your plate. Poignantly penned with the emotion transferring to my Heart. (((HUGS))) ❤
I’m glad it touched you, Amy. It was difficult to write.
Sometimes in writing that which is not easy to write, heals us within, Scott. I felt so many emotions while reading your story. Thank you for being so courageous! (((HUGS))) ❤
Well I have to build up my courage for when I have to face three little boys who want to wrestle.
Just picturing this has me in the giggles ….
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Very thought provoking post, Scott. By the way, from what I’ve seen here in your blog, I suspect your boys feel they have a wonderful dad. ;O)
Children. What do they know?