I can't describe how I feel today.
At least I'm not angry anymore.
For a long time after he passed I was angry. Angry with both of us for not spending more time together, angry for not talking more and keeping in touch, angry for all the time that we would now never get to spend together, angry that my cousins' children got to know their Uncle better than his own grandchildren did (he lived with his sister and they visited often when she babysat), angry that I really didn't know the first thing about him anymore or he me, and perhaps a little angry too that he may have known he was sick with cancer along time before and yet didn't act on it.
My father and I weren't estranged but we certainly weren't close either. He had only met my two daughters once, just before my eldest daughters' third birthday. My son could count on one hand how many times he saw his Grandad and he is seven! We very rarely spoke on the phone. Yes, I am as much to blame, I know that. I did try, some years before to reconnect. I found it so hard to call and talk to him. I felt like such an outsider in his presence and around other family members.
Even though he lives within an hours drive of my home I couldn't drive any distance for over three years. When I lamented at his wake that it would have been nice if he could have come to visit me during that time, an old friend of his said he probably found it hard to leave his watering hole.
I defended him to my mother, his ex wife, the love of his life (he never got over their divorce). She thought it was so unfair that he should contact me only weeks before he was admitted to hospital (he was diagnosed with lung and brain cancer). This may sound strange but I had told her at the time, after he visited I thought he might have been sick because it was so out of character for him to come visit out of the blue. And I had also received a birthday card in the October with some money inside. I think I was eight the last time I recall my father personally gave me a gift. My response was that I was thankful for the fact that at least all my children could now say they had met their Grandad. And although it wasn't pleasant, it was nice to be able to be by his side in his last days, finally spending time with each other, reconnecting with his family. It was also nice to know that he had been surrounded by people who loved him and who he loved.
And then in a flash it was over, two months later and he was gone.
Tonight I had a drink with friends and honoured him. As I am sure most of his friends and other family members did. There were many smokers at my friend's party (my hubby and I don't smoke) and I commented how appropriate it was that on the anniversary of my father's death I was surrounded by people drinking and smoking. He would have loved that. He loved a drink and a smoke.
I'll leave you with a poem I read at his funeral:
'His Journey's Just Begun'
Don't think of him as gone away
His journey's just begun
Life holds so many facets
This earth is only one
Just think of him as resting
From the sorrow and the tears
In a place of warmth and comfort
Where there are no days or years.
Think of how he must be wishing
That we could know today
How nothing but our sadness
Can really pass away
And think of him as living
In the hearts of those he touched
For nothing loved is ever lost
And he was loved so much.