In all these months, I haven't thought very much about my dad and I couldn't say honestly that I've grieved. At first I thought it had something to do with my growing up years but as the memories have been coming back, I think it has more to do with not letting myself think about or remember my dad. I've been looking at pictures of him lately because I've been scanning lots of loose pictures, the ones not in albums.
The memories coming back of my dad are not terrible at all. Some are unpleasant but you know what? Most are pretty good. My dad had a different relationship with me than he did with my brother because, I'm sure, I was a little girl. Expectations of girls by their fathers are dramatically different than the ones dads have of their sons. I benefited from that. I was as much a 'daddy's little girl' as is possible, especially when I was little.
What changed was the drinking although I don't remember my dad ever threatening me or calling me names. The problem that developed between us was because of his relationship to my mother and brother.
I have a feeling that I will grieve a lot as soon as I let myself.
Anyway, the memories:
1. I don't remember anything from infancy, of course, but this picture represents how my dad felt about me. There is one picture I do remember but can't find it (or my mom has it): my dad is holding onto my brother and me and we are at the beach. I do remember my dad teaching me to swim. He put his arms under me and held me just above the water as I practiced the movements to do a forward crawl. I felt ... safe.
2. On graduation day from junior high, Dad wanted a picture of me and him together. We didn't have many pictures of those because usually he was holding the camera. I wasn't too crazy about this because I felt really fat but he said, "no matter, you are beautiful to me."
3. Another picture of my dad and me, taken in 1976. We'd gone up to Long Island for a big family get-together. My Uncle Russell and Aunt Lee had come in from California for a visit so it was the first time all of us had been together in many years.
4. My brother and I threw a surprise 25th wedding anniversary for my parents at my apartment. We got them but good! I remember my father's eyes filling up with tears and spilling over when he realized what was going on. It was a great party!
5. My dad and I liked to swim and we went every day if we could. My parents bought a mobile home in 1978 and I lived there with them briefly before moving to New York. We'd swim laps at the community pool, which was always a lot of fun!
6. My dad and my Uncle Bob were as close as brothers. I have another picture of them I like better. They are barbecuing together, something they loved. It was part of our tradition when our families got together in the summer time. I think this picture was taken just before my cousin Bob's marriage to wife Diane way back in the early '80s.
7. My parents came to LI to visit me around Christmas, 1983. The tree on the left was a "Charlie Brown" tree, the very first tree I'd bought on my own. They met Rich, who I'd begun dating in October of that year. We had a nice little visit.
8. My wedding day October 19, 1985--I really like this picture but I have another favorite. Still, I remember how proud and happy Dad was that day. Once again, always emotional, my dad's eyes would fill with tears and spill over that day.
9. My dad loved being around his family. This picture was taken in 1986 and I think it was at my cousin Mary's house. When he was in his cups, my dad would make up his own brand of poetry, make speeches and "sing" in sign language. He'd also use his voice. When he was happy-drunk, he was fun.
10. Here is a picture of Dad with his brother, my Uncle Thomas. The picture was taken in 1987 and we were in my brother's backyard. He was having a family cookout and we had a tremendous time. My dad was always very close with his brother.
11. My parents came for Kristin's christening. Here's one of those rare shots when all of us were together.
12. In 1994, Rich and I joined Weight Watchers and lost a great deal of weight. We went to visit my parents at their trailer and Rich snapped this one of me, Dad, Mom and Kristin. I think we were there for my parents' anniversary.
13. There are actually fourteen pictures in this slide show but one of them is a cropped close up of dad from this picture of him, mom and my brother. It's the last picture I took of him with my camera. It was taken in 2005, at my son's high school graduation party. My brother, my niece (his daughter) Tricia, and my parents had driven up from Maryland to come to the party and it was really the first time I'd seen any of them since 1999. I feel sad about that...
I am sure more memories will come back as I scan more pictures and reflect back. I am happy so many good memories of my dad are coming back.