Originally published on Poetry Perfected. Republished here due to moving and claiming my content.
I wrote this a week ago Sunday night, the very night I turned 43, as my dad ended up in the hospital due to a severe illness. Although he is on the road to recovery right now (today is August 25, 2014), I was really scared. I’d never seen my dad like that before, and the reality of his mortality started to affect me. So I wrote him the following, both in between tears and while they fell from my eyes.
I’m gonna miss you when you die. I know I’m not a perfect daughter but I always wanted you to be proud of me.
Sometimes I felt like nothing I did was ever good enough for you. Sometimes I stopped trying to please you and began living life for myself.
Sometimes I even hated you, and thought you hated me.
I always feared your angry side. I hated that part of you.
What happened to that guy who used to play “catch” with me?
I used to wait for you on the front step every day, for you to come home from work. I remember I used to get excited when I’d spot your car coming into view, two blocks away. I’d run and scream to Mom, “Daddy’s coming!” and then I’d go back outside to the front step and wait for you to park. You had a gray station wagon back then… then you had a blue one.
I remember annual trips to Duluth and being able to ride in the very back of the car. It was so much fun to be back there!
Those were some of the best childhood memories of you I have.
Playing crib, doing math problems, learning card tricks… those were others.
I love math because of you. I wrote my first good poem because of you. I was so upset, mad, and disappointed that you didn’t come to my university graduation ceremony… but I understood… sort of. Why didn’t you make the sacrifice for me? Five years I worked my ass off, going to school… to make you proud of me.
Yeah, I still resent you for that.
But… I was really happy when I wrote a book blurb for a fictional novel and you said, “That’d be a good book to read.” I was even more thrilled when you read my book of short stories and said I should charge more money for them!
Now you’re really forgetful, somehow smaller, and sick.
Before you die – whenever that should happen to be – I want to tell you a few things.
I don’t want to be the daughter who never got to say goodbye, who never told my dad I loved him, who never told him I cared, who never thanked him for reassuring me when I was scared.
So, Dad, I want you to know I love you and care about you. I appreciate all you’ve done for me throughout my life and I wanted to tell you all of these things while you’re still here and can comprehend them.
I also wrote you a poem. Here it is:
Today I Cried For My Dad
Today I was faced with a sad reality:
my father is not always going to be there for me.
Today my dad got sick – no one knows what’s wrong,
And I shed a few tears when I thought he might not be here for long.
Tonight my dad’s at the hospital, and tears are rolling from my eyes.
It saddens me to think that, one day, he’s going to die.
Even though we sometimes bicker and are often at odds with one another,
He’s the only dad I have, and I love him like no other.
He may not be the greatest dad in the world,
But he’s my dad, and in some small way, I’m still his little girl.
We’ve had our good times, and our bad.
There’s no denying that, no matter what, he’s still my dad.
I’m going to have regrets when he dies;
I know I’m going to be filled with many “What ifs?” and “Whys?”
My dad has never been your typical handy man;
He doesn’t know how to fix things,
But he can make you laugh like no one else can.
He never obtained an education higher than Grade 8,
But he was a great salesman, and always made you believe you were getting a great rate.
He has the gift of gab, and a friendly smile.
He loves to gamble, too; betting was his style.
He is a great storyteller and met many people in his life.
He was protective, too, especially of his one and only wife.
The other day, I took a good look at him;
He was never huge, but now he’s kinda slim.
His hair was grayer and thinner.
His shoulders weren’t as wide.
His back was a bit hunched over.
His arms hung limply by his side.
He seemed like he was defeated, broken, and sad.
I didn’t recognize that stranger;
That guy was not my dad.
Gone was his laughter, his joking manner, and his fight.
His larger-than-life personality was replaced by one that’s slight.
I know one day my dad will die,
And I dread that day.
I don’t know how I’ll cope with his death,
But I know, forever here, he cannot stay.
If I could have one realistic wish before that day is meant to be,
It would be to hear one specific thing… to hear my dad say he’s proud of me.
I am his eldest daughter, after all;
His firstborn child, whom he named.
I’ve never heard him say, “I’m proud of you, Lorraine.”
But our family has never been the type to voice our true feelings, or even hug one another.
It’s sad to say, but that’s the truth, although I sometimes get a hug from my mother.
And with that said, I’ll end here on that note,
Because what I have to say about HER is in another poem I wrote.
But before I go, there’s one more thing I want to say,
Which is I really DO love my dad, and will always miss him in my own way.
I hope you liked the poem.
P.S. I’m also sorry for the many things I’ve done and said that have hurt you and made you hate me, including the whole issue with Jacoby. I know I’m not perfect, I know I’ve done things to cause you disapppointment and anger. But I’ve tried to turn over a new leaf and make a name for myself with my writing and editing business… and becoming an author… so I hope you can forgive me for being a failure in the past… now that I’m on my way to success.
*** I also wrote a letter to my son. I figured that, because he is in the photo with my dad, I’d mention that. 😉