Divorce, Single Parenting, Dating, Sex, & Self-Recovery

Posts tagged “losing my dad

Missing My Dad and Becoming a Better Dad on Father’s Day

dad gets seriousSeveral months ago when my 25+ year mentor died of cancer I took my kids with me to the wake. I thought it was good for them to be touched, ever so lightly, by the idea that people die. And I knew that they would bring a bit of kid-light into the house while we were there.

Yesterday when I showed them my post about LiveStrong and my dad I was slightly surprised that they had no idea what the yellow wristband meant. They had not heard of LiveStrong. (of course, they are 10 and 8) And explaining my idea for remembering my father over the next 30 days, they both seemed distracted, or uninterested. I was important. But the concept of this grandfather, never met, who died of some disease, not really understood or felt, was a bit too far off for a Saturday afternoon. (understandable)

And then I asked them if they remembered the afternoon we visited the man’s house who had recently died. They both did.

“It’s sort of like that. He’s gone already, but we still love him and want to remember him.”

And then we were off to the swimming pool on a 105 degree summer afternoon.

Today is Father’s Day 2011. My father has been gone since I was 21 years old. I sometimes envy friends who still enjoy dad-time. But mostly I am happy for them. And I look for my dad-time in others. It is not often that I look for dad-time by being reflective of MY dad. I spent a good deal of my 20’s and 30’s doing that.

But today is different. Death has spirited off another wonderful man and I am left fatherless again.

What I want for my kids is to have much better memories of me than I do of my dad. And in the shortness of it all, if I only had another 11 years with my son, for example, I really need to make it REAL. And part of that realness is self-awareness for me about my father, feelings around the loss of my father, and even in some ways a better awareness of the cancer that took his life.

While I was at the coast with my kids last week I made an impromptu PSA about wearing sunshirts in the summer. It wasn’t a publicity stunt. It was just a moment where I woke up on the beach and said, “Wow, if my dad had been wearing these kind of shirts, if we’d just known…” And in my sharing fashion I wanted to honor that thought.

This 30 day memorial is similar in its discovery. I am not doing a “branding” experiment, but branding is something I do. It’s something I understand. And the LiveStrong “brand” is something that I am quite curious about. And I’m in marketing. So when the little yellow wristbands took over the country I was fascinated by the program, message, reach, and impact of the concept. I didn’t join in.

So today I’m joining the LiveStrong army. I don’t know much about LiveStrong or all the things they do. But there are two significant things that connect us. 1. I understand branding and the development of social communities; 2. my inclusion in the LifeStrong family is as simple as putting on the yellow wristband. As a marketer I really am curious about the “value” of the yellow wristband in generating awareness for LifeStrong and cancer support and community.

As a person who’s life has been impacted by cancer, I really want to feel the connection with others. I want to talk about it. I want to hear about their stories. I want to connect. And from my limited understanding of the LiveStrong mission, I think this is one of the main objectives, I want connection.

So today, in honor of my dad, I’m putting on my LiveStrong wristband and I’m going to tell his story, Dan Jones’ story, and I’m going to LISTEN. Most of all I want to listen. To the connections that are formed by such a simple symbol. A thin yellow band that took the world by storm.


The Off Parent


Team Dad, “Even When We Can No Longer Be Together”

doing dad's day with livestrongI put on the LiveStrong band on Father’s Day this year. I was wearing the band in honor of my father who died over twenty years ago, and my long-time mentor who died six months ago. That’s why I put the band on. But the conversations I did have, were with MY KIDS.

For both of my kids the yellow band was a piece of jewelry. Like a watch or another colorful band. Both of them kinda knew who Lance Armstrong was. Neither had ever heard of LiveStrong, or knew what the band was about. But as a TEAM we wore the bands for our own reasons. I can see how binding up your positive energy with other cancer survivors or families of cancer survivors is a powerful support. With just the three of us, there was something magical about giving my kids these bands and having them wear them.

We talked about cancer. We talked about my dad. We talked about my friend who died. They had accompanied me to the wake at his house. And then we went swimming. And we put on lots of sunscreen.

Celebrate togetherness even when we are no longer able to be together.

And so the 30-days have passed with very little conversation outside my little Team Mac. And we’re over halfway through the summer. And what a summer. I’ve been taking Friday’s off to simply hang with them. Do what they want to do. Do nothing. Go to the pool, the lake, the movie, the corner convenience store to get a slurpee. And something occurred to me. I didn’t really get much “hang time” with my dad.

So I am basking in these moments. Storing my own warm times and giving my kids the memory of a Dad who knew how to hang and be flexible and had the strength to throw them high and far into the water. And that I think is the lesson I learned. The Team Mac picture was taken just before I let them go watch a terrible summer movie by themselves while I tele-computed from inside the mall. They wanted to go, I didn’t. I really didn’t. So we worked out a compromise. And the bands and even the picture symbolized that bond we are establishing. Trust. Care. Togetherness even when we are apart.

And maybe that’s the biggest lesson: Celebrate togetherness even when we are no longer able to be together. I feel their connection: my kids AND my father and father figures. While I am here, I will make this connected team of three the most important goal of my waking hours. And even as the yellow bands lose their charm and get put in a drawer, the memory of the throws into the cold, deep, lake water will never be lost.


The Off Parent

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