What happens on Father’s Day for the family whose Papa has passed on to another dimension?
Is there a way to connect from afar? When my dad passed away in 1994 I wondered, with my siblings, how we could live in a world where he was missing. Each child whose father–or special person–has passed on finds the answer to these questions in their own way.
When dad was alive, he and I created a custom to stay in tune and in touch. We’d meet for lunch at Marie Callender’s. It was fun to drive him there and order our standard Chili & Cornbread meal and catch up. After the meal he’d buy a pie for me to take home to my family.
A few years after he died, I ended up at Marie’s for lunch on a workday. I was in full “break-time mode,” thinking only about my stomach and the book I brought with me as my lunch companion. When I stepped through the door, a song from my dad’s funeral was playing–Nat King Cole’s Unforgettable. It stopped me in my tracks. Tears flowed instantly and I said, “Hi Daddy…thank you.” Moments such as these show how the Flores family, my family of origin, keep our loved ones close when they pass. When it feels like they’ve reached out to us, we allow our tears to fall and remember them with love.
I’ve been told many times that holidays, or anniversaries, are hardest as you see them coming toward you.
Many folks report “the day of” being easier than waiting for it to arrive and not knowing what it will be like. As Father’s Day draws near, my heart hurts for my children. I want to rescue them from the pain, even though I know that is not possible.
Caring for Dan in the final two months of his life brought our family physically close after a long separation through the first year of Covid. Each of the siblings made sacrifices with work and family to give their dad the best care, and to support me in making his last weeks and months positive and filled with love. To a one, they reported it was the hardest thing they’ve ever done and that they would do it all again without hesitation. It was life-changing.
A deep down tenderness takes root in our psyche when we are well-cared for by a parent or an important adult.
Authentic love touches an essential human need: the need to love & be loved and the need to belong. Over the years, Dan became an expert at giving the kind of love that earns you names like “Daddy” or “Pops” or “Papa Bear.” With his inner compass set on unconditional love, Dan parented with an eye on those basic human needs, to love and to belong. When he missed the mark, he was quick to apologize, even in the midst of the hard work of dying. He taught by example all the way to the end.
In this afterword to Father’s Day, I know we will create rituals and customs to honor Dan’s life as we travel through the years. Some of us will have private ways to reach out into the universe and connect with him. As a true-blue Flores, I know we will see him. I know he will offer surprise visits when we least expect it. He will continue to love us well from afar and we will hold him close in our hearts by remembering him and honoring his legacy.
Please know that I am remembering your special person with you as I travel my own journey of grief. Long Live Love!
In solidarity and respect, Kathie
Lyrics from the Movie, Co-Co, for Father’s Day
Though I have to say goodbye
Don’t let it make you cry
For even if I’m far away
I hold you in my heart
I sing a secret song to you
Each night we are apart
Though I have to travel far
Each time you hear a sad guitar
Know that I’m with you
The only way that I can be
Until you’re in my arms again
“Remember Me” composed by Robert Lopez and Kristen Anderson-Lopez for the Pixar movie Coco.