Unheralded

NICK HENNEN: Now I See — Tuning In To Dad

Father and son, my dad and me were always tight. He was a cuddler, a lover and a deeply feeling man. He had the heart of a poet and lucky for me, I inherited this way of being in the world.

He was so in love with my mom. They were always affectionate and gazing into each others eyes. Love notes were such a common occurrence, my two brothers and sister eventually stopped having even the curiosity to read them.

They were taped to the fridge or stove, the bathroom mirror or the car windshield. To pictures hanging on the wall, on doors and in hallways. Him to her, her to him, back and forth in an endless circle. Constant loving communication through sweet, little love notes.

Jean,

I’ll never forget the first day I laid eyes on you. I am so lucky! Part of me is with you today.

Love,

Jer

Sometimes long and flowing, other times succinct and to the point but always loving.

I love this way, as I learned it by observation growing up. It comes to me naturally and what a gift! I observe things many people never think about in all of my relationships and I take the time needed to pay attention to significant details that are often forgotten inside our hurried, technology-filled lives.

This is part of what makes me miss them both so much, and honestly most especially my father — because I believe his great love for my mom started it all.

This love broadcast doesn’t fade away. In fact, I would argue the signal grows stronger as days turn into months and years.

So on my drive home from work today, I tuned into that signal and had a “talk” with my dad almost the whole way.

I asked every single question I could think of.

The responses were a bit iffy, but I’m telling you, they can hear us. They can and he did. I just felt it.

He left Earth July 7, 2009. Why does it feel like yesterday and forever ago all at once? (Not really asking.)

Radio and baseball. Two things central to my father’s life. I miss him every day, but I still think of him as being here. He’s probably watching a lot of baseball and other sports, traveling the globe and maybe, just maybe still broadcasting live.

Up there or somewhere, there is no time. In an instant it ceases to exist for us as well one day.

Yet while here, we dread the minutes in line at the post office, waste it wishing we were somewhere else other than where we are. We mix it with fear out of loneliness forcing seconds to feel like hours instead of getting out of and finding some good.

At least, I do these things.

It is only when I stop to breathe, to cherish, like the last minutes of a beautiful sunset surrounded by pink cotton candy clouds, or gaze deeply into a loved ones eyes, maybe to say goodbye, to do it proper justice and just be present while you stare. Only then, really, do I realize how fleeting life feels.

I actually did do this the last time i saw my father. I cupped my hands on his cheeks, pressed his head to meet mine, kissed him and told him that I love him. It still is routine for me, to tell someone I love that I don’t see every day, goodbye in this way. (Not goodbye, goodbye but goodbye as in see you soon.)

I’m very grateful that I have that as our last encounter.

I remember my glasses fogging up so much I had to take them off so that I could get a good look into his soulful and sparkling hazel eyes. His eyes were filled with so much life, they told an entire story every time you paid enough attention.

Like so many things in life, we don’t always take time to do that really matter.

This time, Dad’s said he wasn’t terribly fond of my military style buzz cut or the Buddy Holly frames I was donning, but they also said that he loved me endlessly anyway. It’s weird how you can see all of that at once.

I also told him some things in the car, you know? On that drive home.

Like, “Hey, you need to forgive me for anything I ever said or did that hurt you while you were here, anything that let you down or any place that I could have been better, OK?” I said, “I need to know that I’ll see you again sometime” and I explained that knowing that would be really helpful. Because these are things I spend time thinking about.

I imagined him thinking “how earthly” of me and perhaps understanding and replying in a way I can’t hear or understand but instead feel.

And feel I did in waves and through the static in between the stations on the dial.





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