Yesterday, December 3rd would have been my father's 66th Birthday. (It is a birthday he shared with his first granddaughter, my oldest niece, Timika.)
He passed on Wednesday, (Ash Wednesday) March 8th, 2000, but I lost him a few years before that.
I was always, unabashedly, a Daddy's Girl.
There was nothing better than having Daddy's undivided attention.
When I was growing up, we would talk about anything.
A few of the things that I love that are directly linked to him are:
my sense of humor, my sarcasm, golf, football, tennis, Lorna Doone's (shortbread cookies), jazz (the classics; Miles Davis, Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald), art, the joy of walking around your home with a song in your heart, dancing, and beautiful lines on a well made auto...
I thought we talked about everything. In my mind, there was only one other person in the world who would accept me without question, and with open arms, my Mama (Mom's mom).
I learned to question everything from my father. There was no such thing as a dumb question or anything out of bounds.
I watched what he did and what he said.
I thought I knew him.
Coming out was difficult for me. I knew I was attracted to girls in grade school. I thought one of my best friends, Karen, was beautiful, and I had the BIGGEST crush on Wonder Woman.
Yeah, really, Wonder Woman. (blushing)
My Big Mama(Dad's Mom) was a "dyke, bulldagger, you know, funny" and two of his brothers were gay. He loved them all unconditionally.
I thought my mother would have a problem with my sexuality. I thought my mother would reject me. I mean I learned all those alternate words for lesbian from overheard conversations on my mom's side of the family.
(I never heard the word 'lesbian', until Jon Lovitz, doing a skit on Saturday Night Live, rhymed it with thespian)
It took forever for me to come to the point where I just could not try to be who I thought others wanted me to be.
Actually, it took a major depression.
My mom had a problem initially, but eventually it was not an issue.
My dad had a big problem and everytime he saw me, made a point of letting me know it.
So, I started avoiding him because we argued all the time.
When he became ill, sick with cancer, he still did not let up.
The day he passed, I was at home painting. I had been in my art room for 2 days, working on a sketch and rough draft. I was listening to Cassandra Wilsons' Traveling Miles.
My mother called to tell me he had passed.
I am still mending.
Usually, I am on guard beginning December 1st because I know that his birthday sends me into a tailspin. I feel worthless and useless. I feel like I am of no use to anyone I love. I cry without understanding why.
Last year I was able to celebrate him.
This year it caught me unawares.
On the evening of the 2nd, my daughter began talking about Mama (mom's mother) and the time just before her passing (which happened to be 1 year and 1 week after my father's). The tears blindsided me. I thought it was all about Mama, and pushed it away.
That evening, I felt that I could not do anything right for Myra, felt useless to her. I cried. I could not explain why; I did not know why. (Imagine her confusion.)
Every year I call my sister on Daddy's birthday. Later, I called my niece. She was down, said she doesn't want to celebrate it without him. I told her to celebrate. She was listening half-heartedly to half-hearted words.
The truth is I don't know how to comfort her. There was little anyone vould do to comfort me. I thought of him as soon as I woke up yesterday and then I wondered how Timika would get through the day.
Maybe next year will be better.
Happy Birthday Daddy.