It’s Father’s Day in New Zealand, and to be completely frank, I’m 11,379 kilometres away from his grave, I’m constantly sweeping up the broken fragments of memories I have into a paper cup with holes punched in the base and I know I don’t really look like the girl he called his daughter.
A disclaimer, I’m not actively grieving. I had a really amazing day today, and I’m incredibly grateful for where my family is at now and the wonderful additions that I couldn’t live without. It’s crazy to think that families are constantly evolving, and there is alot (alot) of good that can come out of difficult, tricky, awkward situations, if you so choose to let that good grow.
But I was inspired to write this after seeing a couple posts on Facebook about Father’s day.
Okay, so maybe up until last year or so it was a day I would squirm in my seat at church, while children gave balding men paper-cut out ties coloured in with budget crayons and Cadbury roses taped on top.
But maybe I learned something from his death that was valuable.
I played the cello when I was 13. I was 149cm, barely able to go on the rides at Rainbow’s End and too naive to know that the reason why I was benched was because my performance was possibly sub-par, and not because we had too many players on the team.
Somehow, the music department thought a bunch of us were worthy of a “music scholarship”. We had to fill out a registration sheet before class started saying what instrument we played, and nonchalantly I ticked that I was a pianist. I was probably the laziest piano student alive, and when class began and they found out there were 15 pianists out of 25 students, they decided to pass out the other, less popular, instruments. And so 4 of us got cellos, and free lessons. I think minus 1, we all detested the cello. Hence the dubiousness of us being worthy of the scholarship.
The cello is an awkward instrument to play. It’s big, you essentially straddle it, chicken wing-it and attempt to make some music.
I took the cello home every Friday and returned it back to the school on Mondays, so that I could “practise” on the weekends. Because it was heavy and awkward to carry, my mum would pick me up and drop me off in her car every week. It was a hassle and a half because we lived barely 15 minutes away on foot, and traffic around pick-up/drop-off times at school was heavy.
One Monday morning my mum couldn’t take me to school for some reason so my dad was enlisted to complete the task. We headed to his old Toyota Previa van, loaded my cello and hopped into the car.
But it wouldn’t start.
I looked up at my dad who in frustration, turned and twisted and tried to start up the car.
10 minutes passed.
Then he looked back at me and said, “I’ll carry your cello.”
It was ticking now on 8.45am, so I was already late to class. There were two possible ways I reacted to this, and I’ll give you an option to choose what happened.
- I thanked my father for his kindness, and we walked all the way up Sunrise Ave together, as we talked about my friends and my teachers and then when we got to school, I thanked him again, gave him a kiss and a hug and he went back home.
2. I bitterly stormed off up Sunrise Ave, my father trailing behind with my cello. I tried to hide my face as I saw other students, other parents dropping off their kids in cars, thinking how embarrassing it was to walk to school with my father. At age 13 even. When he handed me my cello I mumbled a thanks (which meant no thanks) and he walked off back home.
It was probably two weeks after this incident, that I saw him take his last breath. And I have spent the past 8 years reflecting on it.
As a child, as a teenager, and even as an adult, for some reason it is difficult to understand or grasp how grateful you really should be. You have an idea of the ideal: that there is something you are entitled to, for being a child, a student, a wife/husband or a parent.
Sometimes you may think:
- my boss doesn’t treat me right
- people don’t organise plans as well as I do
- she doesn’t love me like she used to
- they don’t drive like I do
- they should make their bed the way I do.
- I put more effort into this than anyone else
which all translates to simply:
I deserve better than this.
And maybe you do.
But maybe you should just appreciate everything you have been given and work with it. How painful, it was to realise this after he was gone. But how sadly beautiful, to realise how lucky I was to have him in my life, maybe only after he was gone.
So to my dad, I don’t know if my blog is read up in the world you rest in but I want you to know that I’ve gone months without feeling sad about your absence and then suddenly it will hit me like a truck running a red light. I want you to know that I will make it my goal to see you again, what that really entails is a mystery to me but I think… it will all work out. Happy Father’s Day.
Love from Kelly