I Always Feel Like... Somebody's Watching Me!

Friday, April 16, 2010

An Unfortunate Anniversary

This week marked the 12th anniversary of my father's death in 1998. I call it an unfortunate anniversary - for obvious reasons, but also because commemorating the date of someone's passing is complicated. Should it even be called an anniversary? Anniversary is a word used for celebratory, happy events. Should I be focusing on what was my Dad's birthday instead?

However you look at it, the day comes every year - usually sneaking up on me. I start to feel crappy at the end of March, dreading the passing of another year gone by and walk around with a sick feeling in my stomach the entire day of April 14th. I can function; I don't reserve the entire afternoon for mulling over the questions of existence at the cemetery. But it brings me back to the original day I found out my father had died twelve years ago. And the fact that is has been so unbelievably long since that day. Twelve years! I was a senior in high school the last time I saw my father - now I'm on the verge of 30, deep into motherhood with two kids and one on the way, a homeowner, a registered Democrat (which would have surely pissed him off!), incredibly happy in my marriage and a college graduate.

The perspective turns towards the ego-centric when so much time has passed from one important life-changing event. How much I have changed, how much I've done, the places I've seen. How much Pittsburgh has changed! My Dad would be blown away with my cell phone and PNC Park alone. But that's not what is important. The relationship was (is) important. All of the things I learned from him - either the right or wrong way, since he was far from a perfect person.

I always listen to Billy Joel's song "Summer, Highland Falls" to put my emotions into tangible words. I have no idea what the song is supposed to be about - but for me and my relationship with a parent with bi-polar disorder - it gets the message across quite nicely.

"They say that these are not the best of times
But they're the only time I've ever known
And I believe there is a time for meditation
In cathedrals of your own
Now I've seen that sad surrender in my lover's eyes
And I can only stand apart and sympathize
For we are always what our situations hand us
It's either sadness or euphoria

So we'll argue and we'll compromise
And realize that nothing's ever changed
For all our mutual experience
Our separate conclusions are the same
Now we are forced to recognize our inhumanity
And reason coexist with our insanity
And our reason coexist with our insanity
It's either sadness or euphoria

How thoughtlessly we dissipate our energies
Perhaps we don't fulfill each other's fantasies
And as we stand upon the ledges of our lives
With our respective similarities
It's either sadness or euphoria"


  1. Hi Alexis,
    third time trying to get wordpress to recognize me so that I can comment to say: I know the feeling. I still get ticked off at my father sometimes for dying too young and without knowing his grandkids. I loved him fiercely though, and the fact that he was troubled and unhappy doesn't change that, even if it changed so many other things.

  2. i didn't get to read this until today...shooting up some prayers for ya...july 28 always sneaks up on me too...

  3. I love these lyrics... I have some seriously fond memories of your Dad, from singing Jesus Christ Superstar to us making the poor guy drive us around to go shoplifting! It may be an unfortunate anniversary, but it is so important to make a point to reflect on him and his life and even better to put out the call to others to keep their loved ones' memories alive.