…the day that my father died, September 11, 2002. I have to admit that I barely knew him, but have had to piece together his life from my brief memories and stories that his friends, family, and loved ones shared. I was a daddy’s girl, up until age 5. According to all accounts, he spoiled me rotten. After my parent’s divorce, we moved to California and 18 years passed before I saw him at the age of 23. I came to Florida out of my own accord in 1999, seeking reconciliation, seeking to find a part of myself. My mother was never one to bash my father, although she was often disappointed that his contact was sporadic. He made no effort to send for me and I spent years trying to placate that void. I understood his pain and forgave him for failing me.
During the first year anniversary of 9-11 I remember listening to radio broadcasts commemorating the dead. Loved ones shared their stories of their last words or things they would have shared had they known that they’d never see their fathers/mothers/brothers/sisters/husbands/wives/daughters/sons/friends ever again. A deep urgency and anxiety filled me to reconnect with my father and family in Florida in light of the loss so many had experienced that day. I anticipated that the search wouldn’t be easy, but vowed to get started once I returned home from work. But the moment I stepped in the door and turned on the answering machine and heard, “Margari, this is you cousin Nancy…” I knew he was gone. I called her and she confirmed my greatest fear, I no longer had a father.
My father was a flawed man, but he had many good sides. He was a sensitive soul, haunted by his memories of the Vietnam War and wounded by his own failures and by those around him. At his memorial services I talked to his friend. She told me how he used to speak of me, how sad he was that I wasn’t in his life, but that he felt too ashamed to contact me. I learned that he took care of family members on the sick beds as they went through the long drawn out deaths. His family members spoke of his generosity and the ways he stood by people to take care of them. My cousins on both my mother and father’s side often tell me he was one of the coolest cats you knew. I experienced him, I got to know him, I got to see his protective side, his jealous fathering side, his gentleness, and his story telling. Sometimes I envy those who knew my father more than me, but try to let those feelings rest and be grateful that someone can tell me bits about him.
I just want to commemorate my father and provide a reminder for each of us. I pray that each one of us who has lost contact with someone we love to try to reconnect. Don’t let the time slip past. Don’t worry about being ashamed for failing them. But just try…