Sunday, June 2, 2013

The Awkwardness that is June 16. Or: How do you celebrate Father's Day when he doesn't know who you are?

Two weeks from today we celebrate our fathers. We dote on them with gifts, or complaint free fishing trips, or barbeque, and cards that say things like “#1 Dad”. As you can guess, dementia done came in and shitted on that celebration for us kids. Yep, dementia don’t care.

This year is the Father’s Day I imagine (and secretly hope) to be the most painful. It’s the Father’s Day where the physical body that belongs to the man I identify as dad is present, but my dad, my dad, is missing in action. 

When I visit I see the man who gave me my short legs-long torso, the source of my butt chin, the thick-haired and tanned-skin man that shares my most prevalent of features. While he looks the same (except much older and wild-eyed), he is not my dad as I knew him. In fact, I'm no longer Amber, his baby girl. I'm my mom, my sister, an employee. This Amber is a mystery name only to be repeated, not recognized.

This year I'd love to resign myself to tears and heartache over the dad that isn't here and the daughter whose memory is no longer. How cathartic it would be to lie around in self-pity over the loss of the man I can't find inside that broken and bewildered mind. But my dad would have a fit if that's how I celebrated and honored him on what will be a beautiful spring, almost summer, day

He was a glass half full man. And if it felt empty in any way, he busted his ass to fill 'er up. Instead of tears and sorrow and self-pity -the way society tells us to "celebrate" a loved one lost- I'm going to do it the way he'd prefer; a celebration only complete with a dirty martini (I prefer extra olives), the great outdoors, and a meal fit for a king.


He was a man who taught me to be thankful for what I've got (and had) in my life, because it's uniquely my experience and you haven't got forever to enjoy yourself. At 60-years-old he is dying, slowly and sadly. But, he was right. (Oh how he'd love to hear that from me!) Wasting just one day feeling sorry for myself over the loss of my dad is a shame with all the joy there is otherwise. So today, in two weeks on Father's Day, and always, I grasp to an attitude of grateful enjoyment. 

I love you dad. 
Thank you for lessons that'll last a lifetime. 
I promise to pass them on.
And to be the life of the party. 

If all the pictures doesn't have you convinced we look the same, this little video will do the trick! 

1. He is wearing Perfect Push-ups as his dancing shoes, should any of you desire a pair.
2. We did not dance like that at my wedding -I did that only spinning that night.

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