If people, whose love and presence in your life does not force you to forget, you go through life with some degree of emptiness that no one can understand but you. Not even your siblings can understand the degree of emptiness you feel, because they have their own feelings to define.
There are days when I am immersed in a sea of thoughts about my father. I seem to have memories of him, and of us, none of which really exist. I have never met him, except our meetings in pictures and dreams. He met me at birth, and the “made-up” memories I conjure up of him, must have begun there as I sometimes feel like he is with me and has been with me all my life.
I find it peculiar that I miss the presence of someone I don’t even know. I get emotional at the thought of him. I sometimes cry when I have a need to talk with a grown man and he is not around. I sometimes cry when I am in a lonely place dealing with matters of the heart, and feel that if he were alive, I would be happy talking to a man who may have some understanding of what I need. I for sure cried the times when I visited his gravesite in Birmingham, England. That is a time when nothing anyone say, can satisfy my soul.
When someone mentions his name, one of the things I do well is to listen carefully. Always, it is a time when I am trying to make a connection on any level with a person whose blood in in my veins. I listen to hear every detail I can about the person I know in my fantasy world, and am always pleased when something heard matches up with the image I have of my father.
On a recent visit to my island home, I visited my father’s maternal home, visited the grave of his mother my paternal grandmother, and walked on roads he had strolled on in his youth. I thought of him, and wanted to see him as I imagined. Some of my inner cravings for information about my father were satisfied when I visited a family member in another area of the island. At her home, I met a gentleman I had not known before, but who knew my father from their childhood days. The family member mentioned to this gentleman that I was asking about my father and as soon as that was mentioned, the gentleman without hesitation, began sharing details about my father’s life that left me smiling, laughing, thrilled, and having an insatiable appetite to hear more and more. I was excited beyond words, and the smile on my face never left as I heard stories about how he was an impeccable dresser, how he had the voice of an angel and loved to sing, how he was the best dancer on the dance floor at any given time (now I know why I like to dance so much), how he had a temper when bothered by others, and didn’t tolerate anyone making him angry. My father I was told, was a hard-working farmer who liked to have a good time, and was pursued by women because of his charisma. I wondered out loud if he ever objected to their pursuits and smiled reluctantly. I told our storyteller that if he were alive, that is a discussion I would have with him.
It’s only in moments like this that I feel some degree of contentment. Those are the moments, the moments when I hear stories about my father, that the missing parts of me receive some degree of comfort. Hearing stories about my father brings me a kind of satisfaction that only those in my shoe can understand.
What that visit to my island home did for me was to temporarily plug the hole that my heart carries on a daily basis. It placed a Band-Aid on the scar left by his death. It made me get a step closer to accepting that his loss in my life though permanent, can be lived happily when I make connections with people who are willing to share the experiences they had with my father with me. I am thankful for that.
I think about my father often and some days I manage my emotions better than some. I empathize with the population like me who are fatherless and sometimes get envious of those families where a father exists in the home. The envy though is all in love, with a hope that they understand how lucky they are to have a man called father to watch over them.
A big thank you to all the fathers present in their child’s life.