Here I am, 30 years old and it has already been thirteen years since he died. Nearly half of my life. I was an annoying, self-involved teenager the last time I saw him - what a strange thought to have as I am now transformed into a "responsible" wife and mother to three children. Would he even recognize me? Am I even the same person? It is downright weird.
It goes without saying that I often feel the absence of a father in my life. It's the singularity of the relationship that makes it the hardest. Most of us only get to experience that father/daughter relationship once in our lives; even in the case of remarriage and step-parents. Even if another man had stepped into my life, trying to fulfill that role, I wouldn't want it. It is fleeting and seems insincere to try and replicate it. I had more years with my father than some have, but also many less years than others.
What I mourn is the personal loss, the loss of stories that are no longer told. I won't pretend that everything would have been rosier and perfect if my father was still alive; but I'd still have my father. He would still be recommending what movies I should watch (the classics! Invasion of the Body Snatchers, Little Shop of Horrors, Pulp Fiction) and critiquing their remakes. He would weigh in on our home improvement projects. I would have another perspective on my childhood and his piece in making my random quirks make sense.
I told him once in high school about a nightmare I'd had. I was trying to walk down the alley beside my house in Sewickley, but I couldn't get my grip on the gravel and seemed to be running in place. There was a huge storm looming in the sky, closing in on me. My dad then told me that it must have been a lingering subconscious memory. There had been a time when I was a baby, that he was walking with me and my mother, that we had been walking down that same alley and a thunderstorm was beginning. The loud sounds and lightning had scared me then and apparently surfaced again in a dream about sixteen years later. Of course my mother probably has that same memory, but everyone's rememberance of that past is different - and I miss that I don't get to hear his perspective now.
His genetic influence on me still pops up in unexplainable ways. Being a weirdo, I always like to take pictures of my feet when I go on vacation. Looking through our honeymoon pictures, there are at least ten shots of my feet on the boat, in the Panama Canal, covered with sand in Acapulco.
Like father, like daughter? I don't know. In many ways that is NOT true, but his genes are a part of me whether I realize where it surfaces or not.