Friday, March 13, 2015

Letters To My Father


It's been twenty-three years since I first started writing in a journal chronicling my father's struggle with cancer and his death, which came on March 14, 1992. It was an early Saturday morning at 2:30 am when my older brother called from my father's hospital room to say he had died. Oh, the million tears we all cried were never quite enough, there was always more when we thought of his last days. He was young, only 73 years old. It's hard to imagine that on Roger's next birthday, he'll be that age. My father seemed very old to me back then.

I started dreaming about my father soon after he died. They were stunningly vivid dreams, so palpable and real. I felt his touch and heard his voice like he was there with me and more than just my synapses firing in the night.

I wrote all the dreams down in the journal. The page always began, "Dear Dad..." I started to tell him stories of the family, what was happening in our lives. I told him of politics and wars. I told him of other family members who joined him there in world of the dead. I wrote down poems I found that helped me grieve.

Someone told me once that I probably shouldn't keep such a journal, because I would punish myself if I decided to stop writing in it. But I couldn't stop. My love for my father is still a part of my life, and writing him notes has been a wonderful ongoing story. Now, my family calls me to ask me to check the journals to see if I had written down something important that needed to be remembered, and when it happened. I always find it. I'm now well into my fourth journal.

Tonight my family will light a yahrzeit candle at sundown. It will burn all night and all day tomorrow. We will remember my father with a light and love that lasts forever. I will write him a note in the journal, it will begin, "Dear Dad..."

17 comments:

  1. ((( Robin ))) Cheers to Dad. Thinking good thoughts for your Mom. xoxoxo

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  2. Robin, so heart aching... well, we recall our dads and they live on. Mine is a surge of energy, zooming around the universe checking things out. At least that's what he used to tell me thought would happen.
    Best to you.

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  3. I have always neen deeply touched by your boundless love for your dad. Thinking of him and you in this day.

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  4. Oh Robin. I can't even leave a coherent comment. But thank you for this lovely post.

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  5. I was deeply moved when you first told me of your tradition of lighting a yahrzeit candle; I still am. It is such a rich, loving tradition. I'm sorry to learn your mom is not feeling well; good thoughts and wishes for her and for you and Roger and your extended family.

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  6. Robin,
    Thinking of you and thinking all Dads hope to be remembered so fondly.

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  7. How cool. I can relate to the dreams. My father died at 61 from a stroke ironicly in the kitchen of my house. Me I was lot with a couple of girls at the time and he had gone up to my house with mum to collect my washing which they did when I came back from a job abroad. The lasttime I saw dad was when I took him a cup of tea that morning. I never saw him again, I was 29. After that I had dreams about him where we talked and I still have the odd one and I still wish he was around even though I am older that he was when he died. Your journals are a nice way to remember

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  8. kathy-- Thank you.

    isabelita-- I love the image of your dad zooming around the universe. That's pretty much how I see it as well. Nothing is lost, transformed but not gone.

    Tara-- Thank you. I just looked at the photos you took a while back of the flowers you tossed in the bay for him. You do know the love.

    Miz S-- Thank you.

    John-- I'm glad you like the yahrzeit tradition. I remember from the time I was very young when my father would light a yahrzeit for his mother. It is a continuity I deeply appreciate. I hope someone will light a yahrzeit for me some day.

    R.Powers- I have a sense your children will remember you like this. You're that kind of dad too.

    Bill-- Thank you so much for sharing this story of your father. How sad to lose him so suddenly like that. You both were so young. It's a gift of the heart to remember him with so much love.

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  9. We all have different ways of dealing with grief. Since yours works for you, then it's a good thing. That does seem really young to die but cancer doesn't operate by the numbers :(

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  10. Such a moving post. I am reminded that love is stronger than death. Your father's kindness shines in that photo. Wonderful tree with roots. Splendid sun and fog bank. Thank you.

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  11. Rain-- I was never a keeper of journals, so I have been surprised and glad by my persistence in writing down the words for almost a quarter century. Love is very inspiring.

    am-- Thank you. Yes, love goes on. I watched my father keep his love for his cherished mother who died quite young. It was a lesson he probably didn't even know he was imparting.

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  12. I love what you have done in your letters to your father. I wish I had thought of a similar thing to do but I settled for occasional one sided conversations with mine. Like you, I miss mine so very much. I was a Daddy's girl also.

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  13. Arkansas Patti-- One-sided conversations are really good too! It always comes from the heart. I was named for my father's mother Rose. That meant a lot to both of us.

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  14. These journals are such a treasure and roll forward keeping our loved ones alive in story. I make little music videos these days using songs and lyrics that music man Trace so loved.

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  15. MandT-- It has been a wonderful journey, keeping these journals filled with stories for almost a quarter century. I had a sense that your music videos were songs to Trace. A lovely heart-felt tradition I hope you keep.

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  16. That is a really neat way to keep your father's memory strong.

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  17. Mark-- I thought you might appreciate this, knowing how deeply and lovingly you remember your parents.

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