That’s my dad, looking dapper in his signature bow-tie, working the room at the wedding of a family friend in 1982.
The photo is, in many respects, unremarkable. Except that it was taken the day before he died.
The bride found the picture of him with her wedding photos and brought it to us this year.
I have studied the photo, over and over again, to see a glimpse of Dad’s last day of life. I search for some indication of his thoughts and feelings. Was he happy? He looked it. Certainly he had no idea it was his last full day of living, or that he would be gone within 24 hours of this photo. Did he feel any twinges or signs of the heart attack that would stop his heart the next day? Does he look like his arm or his chest hurt? I cannot tell. It doesn’t appear so.
One day he’s at a wedding, dancing and talking and celebrating with friends. The next day, he’s gone. Just like that.
It was pouring rain that day my dad died. I remember so much about that day, even though I was only ten. My mom used to say it was “morose” to think about that day, that I needed to move on.
I’ve moved on. Still, thirty years later, sometimes it actually helps to remember the rain and the pain I felt that day.
Oddly enough, when I’m having a really bad day, or if I’m feeling lost, I remember the rain. And no matter how bad my day today has been, or what is upsetting me, it suddenly pales in comparison to how I felt on that stormy Sunday in 1982. And I know that, because I survived that, I can get through just about anything.
One of the worst days of my life, now helps gives me the perspective to get through the storms, three decades later. That, along with my memories of my Dad, on better days, make me realize how fortunate I am to have had him even for a few years.
When I had a dad, life was all about ice cream, bike rides, barbie dolls, and fireflies. My greatest responsibilities were doing my homework, making my bed, and helping with the dishes. Because I was so young when I lost him, I become ten years old again, whenever I think of him.
For many years, I only felt pain from losing him so early. But eventually the clouds parted and the sun could shine again.
My time with him was very short, but it was a good time in my life, when I had a Dad.