Happy Father’s Day Norm David Matthews, where ever you are…
Father’s Day always sneaks up on me…I never pay attention to when it is coming…I suddenly see commercials for shavers (yesterday, on one of the rare days that I was watching real TV, not Netflix, I saw an add for shavers for Father’s Day…all I could think was, “Really…you can’t think of anything else to get your Dad? I think it is the equivalent of getting your Mom a blender or an iron for Mother’s Day. You may not agree…but that is the world we live in…)…and when I see those shavers I know that Father’s Day is upon us. That is my HARBINGER. ( I love this word…I think I have used it correctly…I googled it and found the information to be inconclusive…but have decided to go with it anyhow…)
Some of you (who are my friends or who know my work at all…) will know that my dad died when I was very young. Two days before my second birthday. Though I was not fully aware of it happening, being almost two and all, it is probably one of the most defining moments of my life. And I have to tell you, to not be fully aware of a monumental moment like that seems a blessing and a rip off.
Remember when you were growing up and that phrase came into being? A Rip off. “That is a fucking rip off…” expresses many situations very well.
I have explored (and continue to explore) this huge life event in my work…in my cabarets…I write about and think about this “theme”, this event and it’s fall out a lot. It influenced a lot of my dating decisions before I met my husband George…I have always thought that George and my dad might have been a lot alike (in the not weird way, people). The way I have dealt with and still deal with people is clouded by this event.
AND my family continues to heal 44 years later. Seriously. It is not an active everyday healing…it was like a bomb got set off in our family unit 44 years ago, and from that day on my people continue quietly to emerge from the crater it created, dazed and confused, and are then they are fine for years, but then something happens…it could be anything…and we unexpectedly fall back in for a while. That crater is always there.
It needs to be said here, my family is very happy…we are very healthy…we lead wonderful lives, challenged lives, fruitful lives…when we get together we laugh a lot…we love each other fiercely and tell each other all the time how fierce that love is…we don’t take many moments for granted…which is the gift of a happening such as my father’s death…and though George and I travel a lot…we see them whenever we can…I talk to one of my sisters almost everyday…the other eschews the constant calling but I know she still loves me…loves all of us. There is just this space…that exists alongside our mostly joyous lives. It is something.
The empty space in my heart created by a happening that was so immediate and catastrophic for the rest of my family almost didn’t seem like it was mine to own. But make no mistake, there is an empty space in my heart that will never be filled.
It is a comfort and a curse, this space.
Yes, as I said, it will never be filled but it blessedly serves as a reminder that I had a dad.
My dad is a story…a story that my mom told me…a story that my sisters told me…that neighbours have told me…and a tragic tale of the end of his days. It is a story that is epic, in which he will mostly always be perfect and will always be young.
And I have never really celebrated Father’s Day. It never felt like it was mine to celebrate. How effed. So, last year I took it back. I woke up that morning thinking, “Who is celebrating him today?”. I put up his picture and wrote a little story. I know all of my family thinks about him…but I felt that he deserved a space in the social media thread that day…in the space where all celebrate their wonderful dads.
So, Norman David Matthews, I salute you today. All that you were and all that you did not get the chance to be.
And to all the other girls and boys who are missing their dads, or who maybe never knew their dads…I feel your empty space…and I honour it.