Dance With My Father

There is a song that I have held close to my heart since the very first time I heard it. It is called Dance with my Father – By Luther Vandross. 

I dedicate this blog to my father, Dennis. 

It started one day with a fall, so they say. Then surgery to see what the mass was on your lung when the bruising didn’t go away. The operation proved so I had been told, was not what they wanted to hear, a mass on your right lung. The hardest part was not just the mass, but the oxygen that attacked your lung while you were under anasthesia proved fatal as it spread your cancer that much faster and within 9 very short and fast months, you were taken from us. Your body worn and tired, but your spirit ready to feel alive, no longer in physical or emotional pain.

I remember moments with you Daddy, a little girl all of 7 years of age. In my mind, I saw us sharing time together in the kitchen, while you made breakfast and I, wanting to show you I could tie my shoes. I remember being outside in the back yard you working in the vegetable garden, I on my swing set, holding a kitten, then OOPS I fell backwards and off to the hospital I went. Mom said that going with me to the hospital was always easier for her lol and few stitches to the back of my head we were off, no worse for the wear. I learned that I will never forget that Mint Chocolate Chip ice cream will always hold a sweet memory for me. Dr. V said if I stopped crying he would give me a quarter for me to choose my favorite ice cream that day. 

Dad as I am hopeful you will know, life has been hard without you. So many firsts we missed out on and yet I know if things could have been any different, you would have been there. I’ve been told you were hard on me, perhaps, but I don’t hold memories of this. Grandma and Granddad showed me pictures of you, in your youth, with mom and friends, to your wedding with mom. For the first time, I felt like I got to know who you were, I learned this when I was in my late teens to early adulthood. 

At the age of 20 I went to your grave for the very first time, I felt this intense connection to you, my hand on your headstone, tears down my cheeks. Don’t be sad for me Dad, for I felt that I had been given a chance to share a piece of your world, that I hadn’t been before.  

The one thing I have not been able to escape is this subconscious level to protect you Dad. I had thought a few years ago, I had truly let this part of you go and perhaps I did to some degree and with anything in life there are ebbs and flows and I realized the other day, to which it truly left me speechless, how quickly I connected to a trigger with the words “owe him”. The context that this sentence was used wasn’t even with me in the conversation, but I was part of the conversation.  It was like I had an epiphany at that moment and I had to stop listening and go inward. 

Dad, I have to say, that this really bothered me as I was in the middle of listening and learning something LOL!  I have always had this craving to please you Dad and at times if anyone would take notice and I did get praise, I was always so very happy that I had done something that someone liked. Dad my being a people pleaser has caused me a lot of hardship, a lot of times, the wrong people have walked over my soul, my spirit, and my body. I don’t blame anyone for this, I believe it comes from the complexities of growing up in a household where life wasn’t what it seemed to people on the outside. Remember Dad, the “well put together, happy go lucky family?” I remember somewhere in my growing that “kids were seen and not heard, and that you never aired your laundry to strangers.” Granddad was very protective of his family, and even more so of his grandchildren. 

I’m not going to go into details as to all the things I have been through, I’d like to believe your spirit is within my heart. The other thing is I want to stay present, in the moment and mindful of where I am. I am learning Dad to walk face first into the wind. 

I feel like I have just scratched the surface with writing to you. In all my years of therapy, counselling and life in general, writing you a letter has never come up before. Perhaps I wasn’t ready, or I was at a different part of my life and other onion skin layers had to come away first.  The words “owe him” still resonate within my mind, ever hopeful I will find a way to put myself at ease. As my heart knows you are at peace, yet the small child who lost you, the image of “one minute you were here and then you were gone” is something I’ve tried to tell myself I had no control over, somehow, at least right now, won’t let go. 

I love you Dad.