I am a fatherless daughter. Many of you that don’t know me, or my story, might not think that is so unusual for someone of my age. You might think, yeah, I am without my father too. But I have been a fatherless daughter for most of my life. For over 50 years now. I lost my father when I was only 4. I don’t remember anything about when it actually happened. My aunt told me that when they told me my dad died, I said, “Oh, you are just joking.” I wonder now, how much my four year old self even understood then.
I do not remember the man who is my father. I don’t remember how he sounded. I don’t remember how he looked. I don’t remember how he smelled. I don’t remember what it feels like to have a hug from a daddy, from a father. I don’t know what it is like to be a teenager who is angry at her father. I don’t know what it is like to have your father give you away when you get married. I remember nothing on how it feels to be a daughter of a father.
I read a book once on how such a loss affects you. Not just for a little while, but for a lifetime and in many ways. And it does. I learned at four that nothing is forever. My world was changed in so many ways. At age four I learned that sometimes the things or people you love are taken too soon. I have lived with a fear ever since of that happening. It turned me into a worrier. And no matter how hard I try to get over that, I always know how fast things can change. I still try to live life each day to the best I can. I try to find that joy in every day that I tell everyone else to find.
So what was it like to not have my father? After he was gone and my mom remarried, we had little contact with that side of the family. I felt for a long time that part of me was missing. I wanted to look at people that looked like him. I wanted to feel whole, or as whole as I could. I did try to reconnect with them when I was old enough to do it on my own and for the short time that his sister and brother were still alive, it was good. I do have cousins out there, but we are virtual strangers to each other.
Growing up, I did not know if the abilities I had came from him. Was my personality the same? How was I like my father? I obtained his yearbook many years later and found out that many of my interests and abilities were the same…and interesting my children also had those same interests!
One of the times that it really hit me that I missed out on so much was when I traveled to my cousin’s wedding. She danced with her dad to “Daddy’s Little Girl”. I started sobbing. My brother told me, sometimes you just can’t listen to the words. Sometimes, I think, you just can’t help it.
My dad never got to know my kids. My wonderful, kind, loving, talented children. I know he would love them. I know they also feel the loss of him. They never knew what it was like to have a grandfather. How wonderful it would have been to see him hold them as babies, and see them grow into adults.
I have very few pictures of him. None of them in color. I look at his picture every so often. I try to feel that this man in this picture is my father. Why can’t I remember him? I want to. I want to remember just once how that felt. To have a father. To have THIS father.
He is the reason I am here in this world. I thank him for that. I try to not sweat the small stuff, to enjoy every day. I try to honor his memory by being the best person I can be. I only know my life as it has been. But sometimes, I can’t help but still wonder, what it would be like, this life, if he had lived. Who would I be? How different would I be?