It’s “Top 10” week at Velvet Ashes (so far my fav list is Top 10 Podcasts –– I’ve added four of them to my podcast listening). I love a good list, so my mind has spent the last week organizing my thoughts into Top 10 lists. Here’s one from a couple of years ago with Ten Ideas for Pastors on Father’s Day.
I think my mind enjoys these mainly because writing Top 10 lists is energizing and fun compared to editing my book.
(True story: One of my mental Top 10 lists was Top 10 things I like about editing because as I say, “what you feed, you move towards” and I’d rather feed appreciation than annoyance.)
But the truth is, the Top 10 list that needs space today is 10 Things I Miss About My Dad. You know how it’s common lore in grief that the first year is the hardest? Well, that hasn’t been my experience. I miss my dad more now, in the second year, and it’s surprised me.
In wondering why the second year has been harder, I’ve come to this conclusion: I was used to not seeing my dad for a year or more at a time. Living in China conditioned me to rhythms I wasn’t aware of.
(This is true for all of us. Of course it is.)
So though I didn’t realize it, when my dad died and I didn’t seem him for a year, it wasn’t that different than the last twenty years. And then we rounded the year corner and I started crying more than I did the first year. In working out my grief and making myself articulate and honor what I miss about Dad, I bring you 10 Things I Miss About My Dad.
This picture was taken twenty years ago this summer when Dad drove out to Kansas to help pack up my apartment (and with the help of my dear friend Marla and her folks) before moving to China. He drove it home while I detoured to Wichita to visit my friend Amy who was convalescing after donating a kidney to her brother. We both look so young :)!
1. I miss that he will never again ask me if I want some Kraft Mac-n-Cheese as he makes some for himself.
2. I miss calling him after a Broncos game and talking about it. I knew I had to be fast because Dad’s friend Frank also like to debrief with him. Thankfully, I’m quick on the dial.
3. I miss Dad retelling the story of a June evening in the early 90’s that recounted an adventure Dad and I had. I miss that I will never hear Dad tell it again and then put his head back and roar.
4. I miss hearing Dad call Mom “honers” (a variation of “honey).
5. I miss the way Dad could seem to not be paying attention, but then would notice the smallest detail that showed he saw beyond the obvious. When Elizabeth got engaged, Dad loved to introduce Del to people. Loved it. Del was a catch as a son-in-law, but instead of saying, “This is Del, he’s a stand up guy who loves Jesus, has a house, lots of friends, is employed, and has minimal debt,” Dad with great joy would say, “This is Del, he’s going to be my son-in-law and he has a truck!”
6. I miss Dad being in the know. Several big events have happened to our family since he died and it’s just weird to think we know things he doesn’t.
7. I miss reading out loud to him on road trips (poor Mom is stuck with me chasing her around when I have a passage I must share). The picture we used of Dad when he died was taken on a short September day trip to look at the aspen. On that day I read from Love Does by Bob Goff.
8. I miss seeing Dad beam from the back of the room, seated next to Mom, whenever I’d speak. I could have talked about anything and they would be there. I miss his proud smile and puffed out chest that said, “That’s my daughter.”
9, I miss the air sucking-in sound he’d make when he was thinking or figuring something out. I can’t describe it well, but I can hear it in my head.
10. I miss TA Hua. TA are my dad’s initials and hua is the Chinese word for dialect. When I learned about “hua” and how it describes regional dialects in China, our family had a way to describe Dad’s communication: he was the only one fluent in TA Hua! One small example is that if you asked a question, a speaker of TA Hua gives an answer that on the surface has no relationship to the question, but makes perfect sense to the answerer. I didn’t know I’d miss it, but I do. I miss TA Hua.
I don’t mind talking about you, Dad; but what I really, really miss more than anything else, is talking with you.