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Sunday, 10 June 2007

Little Girl Lost (for Father's Day)

By Joy Des Jardins of Joy of Six

My dad died when I was twenty-one years old, six months before I was to be married - one day, in fact, after I mailed in my order for my wedding invitations. In the middle of the grief of losing my hero, all I could think about was how I had to call the company printing my invitations to have my dad’s name taken off of them. How awful would that have been? I actually had my cousin, who was in my wedding, make the call. I just wasn’t in good enough shape.

I remember thinking how ashamed I was even thinking about such a petty thing considering what just happened to me. My dad, the man I aspired to be like, prayed to be like. The man who taught by example how you should treat people in life. Not a selfish bone in his body, full of love, generosity, patience and humor. It was about this time that I came to know what my dad was really about.

I learned that he was everyone's best friend. “Buddy,” as he was called, never had a bad word to say about anyone. It never entered his mind to be mean-spirited. He never got mad at people. Never raised his hand, or his voice in anger.

He was a big man – six feet and somewhat overweight, with a face that could light up your day. My dad was just SO full of love it oozed from him.

For a long time my dad was the ONLY hero in my life. There would be one or two others to come much later in my life. I don’t come by heroes easily.

I remember as a teenager, my cousin’s wife lost her entire family in an awful car accident - father, mother and two brothers. We all went to the funerals. It was painful to be sure. Everyone gathered back at my aunt’s house afterward. We lived very near my aunt’s and my parents thought it was fine that I just went home, particularly my dad who thought that I had seen enough.

I wasn’t home for long before I left my bedroom to go to the kitchen and there in the near dark of the living room I could see my dad sitting in his chair. I turned on the light and there he was. Tears streaming down his cheeks.

He never said anything. He just held his hands out to me and I sat in his lap like so many times before. I don’t know how long we sat like that, but neither of us said a word. I could just feel my dad’s arms tightening around me. He hated to see people in pain. It was just all too fragile a situation for him to watch. He was used to making things better, but I’ll never forget that night. Right there in that moment, the love I had for my dad couldn’t be matched.

He was my hero from the time I could recognize him until the time he died in my arms when I was a 21-year-old adult. And it wasn’t until then that I realized his magic was not exclusive to me.

He left me way too soon, before my womanhood really. Before he got a chance to see how he affected me as an adult, how I benefited from his very existence, and that I was watching and listening all those years as a child to all he said and did. Before MY babies, my sweet babies that he would have loved with every ounce of his being. Just like he did me.

From the time he left my life I’ve felt cheated and that my kids were cheated out of his beautiful lessons, giving spirit, and amazing love. I would have been glad to share him as THEIR hero too. There was plenty of him to go around. My dad, my Buddy.

Posted by Ronni Bennett at 02:30 AM | Permalink | Email this post


Maybe I needed to cry this morning, Joy - you provided the perfect opportunity. I miss my dad so much, but I had mine in my life much longer han you did. I'd like to think they know how much we love(d) them.

As I read your post the tears are streaming down my face.

My daughter is due to marry in under two weeks time. She had a dad like yours but alas cancer took him away from her two weeks before she was twenty.

He may not be with us on her special day but his spirit will live on as long as she walks this earth.

My wish for her is to be happy and continue to bring love, laughter, generosity of care,and quick humour to all she meets along the pathway of life.

We can't necessarily be the heroes our fathers were. Still, I like to think that just having known and loved our fathers, or whoever else has been a hero in our lives, shows our children how important it is for them to seek their heroes. Reading your story makes me believe that you’ve probably instilled in your children a love of the grandfather they never met. And who knows, maybe you instilled in your father, at an early age, a love for the grandchildren he never met.

Thank you for this. You made me think that I also need to honor my father (who died when I was 8) by writing a piece about him. Your piece was a blessing to me.

Kenju...I bet we were very similar daughters. I hugged and kissed my dad every chance I got; not because I thought I would lose him at such an early age, but because he was just so warm and lovable and I couldn't help but show my love to him. I'm sure our dads know how much we loved them. Thank you...tears and all.

Grannymar...Your daughter's and my situation were so very similar. There's not one day that my dad doesn't pop into my mind...just like your daughter I'm sure. You couldn't have made a more beautiful and nurturing wish for her. Thank you.

Oh lilalia....what you wrote was beautiful and I hope with all my heart that it is true. We can only teach our children by example, and I was blessed for 21 years with a perfect one. Your words are so wise. Thank you so much.

Ann....thank you so much. I would love to read your piece about your dad. I've never been to your blog before, but looks like I'll have to start making some visits.

I'm sure your kids and grandkids know about your dad's goodness because you carry it on. Your humor, joy and love have built on what he taught you and lived.

A lovely tribute to your Dad, so well written. The wedding without him must have elicited some thoughts of if only he could have been there, but you could be content knowing he probably was in spirit.

What a lovely remembrance! I am smiling through my tears because I suspect you are very like your dad, my dear friend, and know that he is very much with you!

Joy, thanks for letting us meet your Dad through your beautiful tribute.

Travelinoma, Joared, Kay & Suzz...thank you for your wonderful words. I hope I've been able to share my dad with my kids through my love...it's the best that we can hope for when we lose someone so early in our lives. There's no better way to honor them.

A beautiful tribute to your father. Although he was taken from you much too soon, you were fortunate to have had such a loving man in your life.

Thank you Darlene...you are so right. I learned so much from my dad that whatever time I had with him was a blessing. I've known that every day of my life.

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