I took this afternoon off to travel to my father’s grave site. It was a spontaneous decision for me and quite unusual to do on the spur of the moment. I am a planner of all things; a scheduler of when to do something and how to do it. Today was not that day.
I typically visit Dad’s grave with family as we take Mom to the cemetery, usually two or three times a year. The Dallas Forth Worth National Cemetery is enormous and usually takes a map to navigate it. I’ve memorized that Dad is in section 14F, site 116. He is in the row with three trees standing as sentinels. I’d like to think this is reflective of his three children; Joni, Jeff and me.
Today I felt that I wanted to visit with Dad alone. I’ve been feeling in the last few days that I needed to feel his presence. I wanted to tell him that everything is all right. That his family is moving forward in life as he would have wanted. I felt compelled to let him know that Mom is okay. I wanted to let him know that I’m trying my best to fulfill the promise to take care of her as he asked me to do on the night he passed away.
I wanted to assure Dad that even though it's been just Quentin and me for many years, his youngest grandson is doing well. I wanted to tell him that he is working hard to earn his bachelor’s degree in business and he will do so in the next year. I wanted to let Dad know that Quentin has grown into the man who he wanted him to be. That he is strong and kind; faithful and true.
I wanted to tell Dad that I missed the times when I could talk to him about anything. About the joys I’ve had, about some of the sorrows. About where I am now as well as where I am going. I wanted to let him know that I missed the times I had with him and that even when we sometimes disagreed I always loved and respected him.
I think this desire to visit my dad was brought on from a conversation I had recently with my friend, Siobhan, who I have known for 25 years. We began our friendship while both serving in the military. The other day Siobhan asked about dad. I told her he had passed away over 10 years ago. I shared with her how difficult it has been to deal with his death and his absence in my life.
I had forgotten that Siobhan and I had, many years ago, discussed the sometimes complicated relationships with our dads. I think this is often the case, particularly when a father and daughter have different outlooks on life.
Siobhan said that although we had both experienced the loss of our fathers she felt it may have been more difficult for me. I asked her why she thought this was the case. She replied that when I lost my dad, I also lost my best friend.