Life Without Father on Fathers Day
Today is Fathers Day and the third day of Dave being gone. He awoke today in Barstow and called me before he was out of bed. He had the Fathers Day cards we had slipped into his brief case before he left, one from my mother, one from my daughter Amy, and of course, one from me. Even though I knew what each one said, he read them to me over the phone. Although Dave has no biological children for more than two decades he’s been father and friend to mine.
It takes a special sort of man to take on a huge household where most of the children are already half grown. Maybe part of his success is that in many ways, Dave is a big kid himself. Another factor is that he’s the second child of a family of seven boys. As if that wasn’t enough my mother-in-law ran a day care in the family home. Dave had training for having a big family.
Dave has never attempted to usurp my children’s biological fathers, but in Amy’s case he has—which is mostly the fault of hers—and he spoils her. I have remained friends with my exes for the sake of my children so we’ve had some family celebrations that could be viewed as odd to an outsider. We’ve actually had dinners when both were present. One evening when we were having a party and Amy’s dad was at our house she came to me asking where her dad was. I told her I thought he was in the dining room talking to someone. No, she said, she meant her real dad, Dave.
Dave has taken the boys to concerts and baseball games and is the favorite with their children. At our farewell dinner for him, we put Linda next to GranDave because she fit nicely into a little spot in the booth. Not to be outdone, her little sister Lydia demanded a spot there, where she stood on the bench and leaned her head on GranDaves shoulder. One of Dave’s biggest sorrows about leaving was missing out on seeing the little kids on a regular basis. GranDave is fun. How many grandfathers have a skating birthday party? Maybe I will call him and have them practice their music for them.
When Amy found out that Dave was leaving she came to me in tears. Just that morning I had been trying to figure out how to make my special needs daughter understand why he was going back to work (she had looked forward to having him retire) and why he wouldn’t be living at home for longer than she can understand. Dave said that he hadn’t told her so she must have just overheard enough conversation to figure it out. I had waited too long. It was not a conversation I had looked forward to because she’s known for being emotional. A favorite teacher died and she cried for three days.
Since Seattle Flight Service closed and Dave has been around the house he and Amy, frequently along with our daughter-in-law and grandson, have been going to the $2 movie at our local theater on Monday mornings and then getting Subway sandwiches. Last night I told her that I would leave money with Ana tomorrow so she could take them all out. No, Amy said; just bring her a sandwich after school. For her it is not about going to the movie. It is about going out with Dad. It may be a long while before she gets to do that and today, as he drives into a new chapter of his life and we figure out what ours without him will look like, we are thanking him for being a wonderful presence in our lives for 22 years and counting.