On The Passing Of My Father

Whenever anyone asks me about my favorite gift that I have ever been given, I always say that it was a piano that my dad gave me when I was about thirteen, just a few years after the difficult divorce of my parents. Dad told me that his roommate had bought a new piano and that I should try it out. I was playing for about ten minutes, when dad said “actually Kate, the piano is for you.” I was very surprised. That gift meant so much to me.

Two weeks ago my dad passed away.

That sentence is loaded with so much emotion that I can barely even write it down. Winsome emotions attached to memories I have as a little girl, sitting in his lap and feeling the rough stubble on his chin against my face. Aching attached to the fact that he was so sad the last few years of his life that it was very difficult to connect with him. Anger that I was not able to say goodbye.

I have often wished that I could have a father that hugged me often and used his words to express that he loved me on a more regular basis. Physical affection and words of encouragement are the ways that I best understand love. Those were not often his ways of expressing love. But I am learning now that his lack of outward affection didn’t mean he didn’t love me. He loved me very deeply. He just expressed it in ways that I didn’t always see or understand.

My dad sold the house he lived in and moved into an apartment just weeks before he died. He didn’t want my brothers and I to have to deal with the mortgage. It seems that he sensed he didn’t have much longer to live.

At first I was angry that dad didn’t invite us into those last few months of his life. I always thought that I would have the deathbed talk that you see in the movies where everything is made right. Where you knew your dad loved you. Where you knew you were a good daughter.

But something I realized after he died was that my dad was loving us even in his last days the way that he knew how to love. He didn’t want to burden us. He didn’t want us to be in pain by seeing him in pain. He wasn’t leaving us out because he didn’t love us. He was leaving us out because he did love us.

I know now why that piano always meant so much to me. It was a picture of the way that my dad loved. He knew that I loved to play and that I didn’t have a piano. So he found one for me. He saw the need and he filled it. That was his way of loving. Now, I can sit down at that piano and accept that gift with deep gratitude. I can accept that this was my dad’s way of loving me.

One of the greatest skills we can learn in life is to try to understand the love languages of the people in our lives. To learn to accept their love as love, even when it doesn’t feel like love to us. To truly believe that it is love despite our missed signals and misconceptions. Really, all of us are trying so hard to love one another but just aren’t always sure how to do it. Wouldn’t it be wise for us to simply realize that the people that are closest to us are trying really really hard to love? Just like we are trying so hard?

There are many ways to wrap a gift. My dad may have wrapped his messily with a brown paper bag and masking tape. I may put flowers and bows on mine. The truth is, one is not better than the other because of the wrapping.

When you open them up they both contain the same thing:

Love.

Do any of you have instances where you realized that someone was loving you even though you didn’t perceive it as love? Any favorite memories of loved ones that you have lost?

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16 thoughts on “On The Passing Of My Father

  1. Been thinking of you and how the memorial service went. I’ll bet it was a real tribute to you dad. This is a beautiful post. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    • Thanks Cheryl. The memorial service was really beautiful. This post started out as a comparison of our celebration of Car’s life and dad’s memorial but it wasn’t quite working. Probably it will be in another post. I’m so glad I got to be with you all this week…I really needed to be with a family this week and you guys always make me feel like I’m a part of your family.

  2. Dearest Kate, Thank you so much for sharing your heart so openly as always. I remember the time that I too realized the truth about the way my Dad showed me love. It was a profound moment and totally changed the way I perceived him. My dad rarely showed emotion,positive or negative, but one day when he found out that my husband had hit me he could hardly contain his anger. It was at that point that my mom shared with me that his dad had abused his mother and thus his strong reaction to what had just happened to me.
    It was like the Lord turned a light on for me. Suddenly I understood why dad avoided emotionally charged situations and seemed to always have his emotions in check. It was out of his love for us and his desire not to repeat the sins of his father!! It totally flipped the coin for me. Instead of seeing his lack of verbal expression as a lack of love I saw it as a great sacrifice because I realized his restraint was put in place as a safeguard.
    Years later when he gave his heart to Jesus he was able to say I love you and began a journey towards more freely sharing his heart, Although he still “walked with a limp” as we all do, because old habits die hard. I was thankful for those moments but I have to say that the greatest revelation came just as yours is coming now, when Jesus gave me eyes to see the ways my dad showed his love to me.
    I thank God for His grace towards you in opening your eyes.to your dad’s love. That is one of the greatest gifts He could give you now. Oh what love the Father lavishes upon us!!!
    I pray that as you are reminded of your dad’s love every time you sit at your piano that the memory of his love and the love of your heavenly Father would collide and break open the fountains of gratitude and praise!!
    God Bless and Keep You Kate
    In His Love
    Pat

  3. So I just lost my mother six weeks ago. Kinda sucks doesnt it. I too always thought I would have the movie like deathbed scene. My last words to her were Im coming as she was crying in pain in the hospital. Around 6 hrs into the 12 hr drive back home they put her on oxygen and under heavy sedation. I never got my scene. Funny thing is after she passed all I wanted to listen to was I want to hold your hand by the Beatles. She passed two days and a night after I got to her and it was then and still is the most gut wrenching heartbreaking thing I have ever endured.
    The one thing I can be thankful for is the reparation of our relationship these last five years. My mother was my biggest fan an she loved me with a selfless love. I hope to someday experience that love with a wife, or a child, I dunno, but I do know how much I miss that and her. Just to hug her one more time ya know.
    It is a small(ish) comfort to know I will see her again soon but if I live a natural healthy life it could be some 45+ years and quite frankly that sucks to have to wait that long. I do miss saying I love you to her, something she was very particular about with every phone conversation…
    My heart goes out to you awesome writer of this blog. Truly. I pray you can find peace and cling to God as I am so desperately trying to do. Its not easy.

  4. I’m so sorry. You have strength and amazing clarity to understand and accept your father’s love. I struggle with that for sure with my mom. I read her worrying as assumptions that I’m too stupid to look out for myself, but of course it’s her love for me and need to believe I’m safe. My heart goes out to you and your family. (And what a great picture!)

  5. Thanks Kate, and prayers for you. I cannot imagine the situation that you’re in right now; of all times in life, this time you need someone with skin on. I remember one of your posts, about going to your dad’s for the holidays and trying to make it a holiday for him, and for you. That, perhaps, was one of your gifts of love just as the piano, or the move, was his.

    I am so blessed to still have both of my parents, but I perhaps can empathize slightly remembering the death of my grandmother, who lived just down the road. It took me a long time to grieve – I mean, to really grieve, beyond the tears in the hospital and at the funeral. More than a year really, because I was gone most of the first year after her death. It was when I came home and encountered daily the things that were hers, then my heart broke. Now, those same things often bring a smile. To this day I love to wash dishes because she loved to wash dishes. I like pink, because she liked pink. And I strive to be a lady, because she was a lady.

    Enjoy the gift of your dad. Cry. Rest in the arms of your Heavenly Father.

  6. Many hugs for you, Kate. I’ve watched a lot of friends and family members die this summer and fall, and every one is a space no longer filled. My grandfather, I think, was the hardest, because he’d been ill for so long and yet living through it for so long that it was actually a shock when he finally died. He had a habit, when we’d hold hands for prayer before dinner, of stealing a kiss to the back of your hand before you let go. He was always so proud of himself when he managed it; I don’t know if he ever realized I stopped fighting it years ago and embraced his silliness as part of how much he loved.
    My cousin told me, after he died, that the best way to deal with loss is to ask a friend you really trust to go have ice cream with you so you can tell stories about the person who died. I haven’t been able to do this, yet, but it sounds like a grand idea. Perhaps it may be something that works for you?

  7. Oh goodness, this is so very hard. I am extremely sad for you as you mourn your father. My dad died three years ago when I was 27 and it’s just awful to lose a parent as young as we are. Thank you for sharing about your dad, the good and the hard. When my dad died, I found grief share to be extremely helpful. I looked it up, and I think there is one starting in your area in the new year. You can search on http://www.griefshare.org, but maybe this will work for you?
    Risen Savior Lutheran 3031 W 144th Avenue
    Broomfield, CO 80023 303-469-3521 Mondays, 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm
    (01/14/2013 – 04/08/2013) 6 miles
    It’s a Christian group that teaches about grief and God’s plan for life and death and also has a support group element, where you can share with others who are going through the loss of someone they love. I honestly can’t stress enough how this helped me! Hang in there.

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