Wednesday, May 26, 2010

May 26, 1970

Forty years ago this morning (Wednesday), I was sitting in the front seat of my mom’s car, my three little sisters in the back. Mom was about to back out of the driveway to take my sister Tracy, who was in kindergarten, and me (7th grade), to school, when the Sheriff pulled up across the street. He wanted to talk to my mom.

Every year, for forty years now, I have looked at May 26th on my calendar, and remembered that this was the day my dad, who was 46 years old, took his life, leaving my two older brothers and me, behind.  I was 12. We never got to say goodbye.  (The Long and Winding Road by the Beatles was popular at that time, and the only line in the whole song I ever heard was, ‘You left me standing here’)

Dad was an only child, and wasn’t supposed to be born. His mother had polio and was not to have children, but 18 years after she wed, dad was born. Dad was drafted into the Army (1942) after graduation, but was dishonorably discharged to come home and take care of his mother.  I’m guessing dad and mom were married in about 1952 or 1953 for about 6 years.  Mom divorced him, and during the times he didn’t pay child support, she didn’t let him see us. He was lonely. I won’t say we never got to visit, because we did, but it would be in spurts, depending on his financial situation. Mom might have thought she was punishing dad by not letting him see us, but she was really punishing us. We needed our dad, and he needed us.


Life got to be too much for dad. The alcohol affected his job, and his life, and he decided to leave.

 I don’t have many pictures of dad, and the ones I have are not very good, or clear. This picture, obviously, was taken about 10 years before he passed away, and that is me with him in our front yard. It could have been about the time they divorced. The time span would be about right.                                                             daddy 001

Even though I don’t have many pictures, I have many memories. In my mind, I can clearly see his filter-less Camel cigarette hanging out of the left side of his mouth, causing his left eye to be closed most of the time. I remember how his house was always spotless, and how he was such a good cook. He liked to take car rides, and he was up before the birds in the morning. We liked riding with him too. My two brothers always got to ride in the front, and I was in the back, with my knees on the back seat, and my elbows on the back of the front seat, right in the middle, and happy to be there. Sometimes, I would just lay on the deck under the back window. I know some of you did that too! I don’t know how he ever saw out of his rear view mirror.

I remember how we used to snuggle on the couch, and as he would hold me next to him, I would put my head on his chest and listen to his heart beat, with my left arm hugging him, while he told me he loved me. He could fix, or make anything. My brothers are much like him, but especially my brother Jack. Dad was a mechanic by trade, but I don’t think there was anything he couldn’t do if he put his mind to it. I also remember that he would do anything for anybody.

I remember mom letting me go across the street to dad’s Aunt Mildred’s house every weeknight about 5:30 after he got off work, when I was about 8 years old, so I could sit on his lap while he ate supper. I loved spending time with him. His heart was full of love, and there was no doubt that he loved my brothers and I. His Aunt Mildred was his mother’s sister, and she was so good to him. I think she tried her best to take over when grandma passed away. She did so much to try to help him. She loved him and he loved her, but the alcohol was stronger. 

My dad kept kind of a journal, and I have some of his pages. He would just write on loose paper. He would write about our visits, what we did, and what we had to eat. He might also write about how we were feeling, but also how he was feeling. On the days we were not there, and mom wouldn’t let us see him, he wrote about how he missed us. To see his handwriting just brings him closer, and to see how lonely he was, brings tears and sadness.

I know I’m rambling, and I guess this post is more for me, than anyone.  I can’t believe it has been 4o years. Shortly after he passed away, I believe he did come back to say goodbye to me. I saw him as clear as day, in a dream. I reached out for him, he disappeared, and when I woke up, tears were streaming down my face.

I miss you so much dad. I love you!


 Five girls

Me 1970. Don’t be jealous of the glasses! They were my first pair, and so bowed, I broke them trying to make them straight. I didn’t get glasses for a long time after that, so I would learn my lesson.


That corgi :) said...

I'm so sorry about the circumstances about your dad's passing and your parents' divorce that prevented you and your siblings from having a closer relationship with him. he sounded like he loved you and your brothers. I'm sorry he wasn't around to watch you grow up....


shelly said...

I am so sorry for all that you lost! I'm sure this is a super hard time of year for you--I'll be keeping you in my prayers (hugs)

Pokey said...

Hi, Michelle, these kind of days are hard. Thank you for sharing.

Amelia said...

This tragedy was caused by the desease of alcholism...thanks for sharing your rememberance of your father.

Try to have a happy day...

Hugs from me to you.


Hazel said...

My prayers are with you today, but its nice you remember the good times .It sounds like your Dad was special to you ,I'm sure he's watching over you and is very proud .

jillquilts said...

I'm so sorry for your loss!!! {{{BIG HUGS}}}} to you!!!

Love ya!!

Andrea said...

You've got me all choked up this morning...I'm so amazed at how vivid the memory is from 40 years ago. Such a profound moment of time stamped in our brain. I'm sorry about your dad's passing, today is a hard day. I hope by sharing you have shared or relieved some of your grief. You've reminded me (in a good way) that others deal with those moments the same, no matter how long ago it was. My mom passed 6 years ago this july and the day is so clear in my head too. Thoughts for you today...perhaps a sewing day or a thrifty day to keep the mind busy ;-)

Lori said...

So sorry for your loss Michelle. But isn't it great to have fond memories of your Dad to reflect back upon? Thoughts are with you today.

Renea said...

I don't think I ever knew this Michelle. I know how dates can bring back good and sad memories. I have been thinking of you today. May you find peace in your heart from your loving husband and from all your friends.

Karly said...

My heart is breaking for you. I know all to well what it's like to lose a father. My dad died at 49 yrs old when I was 20. I like you have the very vivid memories from that time. My dad died of a heart attack at the wheel.

I'm so sorry that you lost your dad so very young. You always have the precious memories to look back on. Take care, Michelle!


Valerie said...

My heart broke for you as I read this. This is so good that you think he came to say goodbye. I know that was so hard. My prayers are with you this week and always. Thankyou fro sharing your heart.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry this is how you had to lose your dad. I'm so glad you were able to write out your memories. Love the picture of the 2 of you in the yard.

StitchinByTheLake said...

I hear the pain in your writing and my heart hurts with you. blessings, marlnene


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