‘Though you’re still with me, I’ve been alone all along’

I’m so glad my friend C. is blogging lately, although the nostalgia that comes with knowing someone as long as we’ve known each other is sometimes overwhelming, in and of itself. And maybe it’s that he’s a phenomenal writer, coupled with the fact that he hasn’t had it so great either, and I can’t help but hurt and heal right alongside him.

Today he spoke of his father, whom he lost in 1995. And this is my first Father’s Day without the man who raised me as his daughter. And how sad is it that I’d rather my biological father were the one in the ground and not my grandfather.

I’ve never been a fan of these Hallmark holidays. But when it comes straight down to it, would I have ever set foot in one of their card-and-gift emporiums otherwise?

My grandfather loved greeting cards. He always lovingly selected the most-perfect one for you that could possibly have been printed for that particular occasion. I am spot-on with card-picking because you just couldn’t take any old card off the shelf for him. No, you simply couldn’t receive his cards, which always contained a couple poignant lines he wrote just for you, and even begin to think that something average would do for this extraordinary man.

So, every year, I picked the best of the best cards — oftentimes visiting a handful of stores, just to find the “right” sentiment — before finally deciding on the prettiest card and writing a half-page or so of my own thoughts. The cards were just folded paper with half-assed sayings, as far as I was concerned. Not even close to being worthy of this magnificent man. So I made them worthy.

And he loved them. Loved the cards, the “extra” thoughts, the very gesture of knowing he had crossed your mind before you saw him.

Mom and I don’t exchange cards anymore.

We never had money for gifts. Well, nothing exotic, anyway. Father’s Day was always cologne — Boss. That was a splurge. Christmas always brought necessities for everyone. And in the leanest of lean times — when I got older and that horrible year when I wasn’t working — Mom and I decided to focus the holiday on him.

That Christmas, I couldn’t contribute anything other than my presence, but it was socks and underwear and other not terribly exciting things. But yet, he opened every gift like we handed him the sun, moon, stars and a passport to slide down a rainbow.

I was sort of not thinking when my grandfather’s birthday came and went in February. I found myself in Nordstrom, headed to the cologne counter. Mom had mentioned, right before he passed in November, a new cologne he wanted to try. Boss was of course going to be a purchase, but I wanted to grab the new one, too.

And then, there I stood in the middle of the department store, and completely dissolved into tears. Funny how my feet had carried me that far but my mind had been checked out enough to keep me in denial that there was no one to buy these things for.

That’s what really hurts. When he was alive, I had nothing to give. At all. Not that he even cared — he just wanted love. I tried to be good in any way I could, but I always hoped I could do better. And not that I’m rolling in dough these days, but I can at least breathe. Which, I never could.

My rent is triple what it was five years ago, but I’m still doing better overall. I wish I could share that with him, somehow. Now that I have a spare room where he could have stayed so that he could have visited me. We sure as hell didn’t have money for a hotel so he and Mom could come down.

Fuck, it’s like I missed the last five years of his life, as I made my own down here.

He died a week after I got my promotion. The thing I worked so hard for. I don’t even think he really knew, he was so delirious in that hospital from untreated pain. And really, my victory wasn’t all that important at the time, anyway. But I was hoping it could have allowed me to spoil him a little bit.

In any event, what C. pointed out, and it was something I learned later in life, too, was how much he did without so we could have what we did. If the family was happy, then he was happy. So different than so many men I’ve met throughout my journey so far.

Mom and I have often wondered how we could ever settle for someone who merely loves us when we were once treated like royalty, like our very arrival on this earth was to be revered? He showered us with compliments at every opportunity — and meant every word he said when he said it.

How do you go back to “normal” after that?

You don’t.

You can’t.

I never wanted for anything from him — anything was mine for the taking. Love with an extra side of compassion and a double-dose of unwavering support. Seriously. I don’t know if I really ever knew how good a man he was. I think I did. I sure do now.

I guess the toughest part of all of this is that the man who made sure I never wanted for anything can’t honor the one thing in this world I want right now more than anything … which is simply to have him back.

Now that I don’t have anyone for whom to look for that perfect card anymore, I wonder whether this holiday will hold anything but tears for me ever again.

One Lonely Response to ‘Though you’re still with me, I’ve been alone all along’

  1. chris :

    You flatter me…..