Sunday, December 18, 2005

Not this year

I wrote the following post 2 years ago, after we'd lost Dad. It still resonates today, and this year, it will have a new poignancy while we continue to adjust to a new person in the family picture. For all those who are remembering someone dear this Christmas, this is for you...

It’s not the Christmas Eve phone call that I’ll miss. I never particularly liked rushing out to the shopping mall on the busiest day of the year because he hadn’t gotten around to buying Mom a gift.

And it won’t be the delay he caused each year by picking the very moment everyone was ready to open presents to go outside and feed the pigs.

It’s not his stubbornness or his lack of focus. It’s true - some things will be easier this year without Dad. I’ll get to relax on Christmas Eve. We’ll open presents sooner. We won’t have to plan meals around his unorthodox schedule.

But it’s the sound of him I’ll miss. His voice as he sang “Who is He in Yonder Stall?” His annual reading of the Christmas story in Isaiah or Luke – before any gifts could be opened. The silly sounds out of his mouth while he drifted off to sleep on the couch - still trying to participate in the family cacophony. His inquisitive tone as he pondered a new Christmas question – why does tradition assign the number three to the wise men? What makes us think Mary was riding a donkey?

It’s the feel of him I’ll miss. His shaggy whiskers on my cheek when he hugged me hello. His work-worn hands when he patted my shoulder in greeting or congratulations. His insistent fingers as he tapped my hand at the busy Christmas table to get my attention so he could share his musings.

It’s the smell of him I’ll miss. The Old Spice aftershave lotion he saved for Sundays and Christmas. The lingering odour of the barn embedded in his hair and the blankets Mom covered the couches with.

It’s the sight of him I’ll miss. The tilt of his head and the tiny grin that said “I’m happy to see you” louder than words. The bushy eyebrows over twinkling sky-blue eyes as he teased the grandchildren. The freckled hands cradling his well-fingered black leather King James Version Bible. The gentle smile saved especially for Mom for picking just the thing he needed for Christmas.

We’ll still gather at Christmas. We’ll still eat a big meal and exchange gifts. We’ll still read from the Bible – probably even from the same black leather Bible he fingered for all those years. We’ll play games, we’ll laugh, we’ll sing a few Christmas carols. That’s what we do at Christmastime – we won’t change that because Dad died.

But the heart of it won’t beat the same way this year. The Bible won’t sound the same from someone else’s lips. “Who is He in Yonder Stall” will sound empty without his voice or his unique line of questioning. Mom won’t get that special smile, and I won’t feel his whiskers on my cheek.

We’ll still celebrate the birth of Christ, but it will be the death of Dad that will hold captive our thoughts, our tastes and our smells.


ccap said...

And I might cry a little extra this year thinking that he won't get to hold his new granddaughter.

Dale said...

You know, Heather, the most important thing I take from reading about other people's Lives is this:
We all hurt.
My troubles are no greater or lesser than yours or his or hers.
I'm thinking of you now, and hoping you'll continue to recall the special things your dad did to make lasting Christmas memories for his family.

Anvilcloud said...

This should carry a warning: "A Three Hankie Blog." I trust that your many fond memories will greatly overshadow your continuing sense of loss. May you feel his spirit as you sense the loss of his physical presence.

Linda said...

Oh he'll be there! His spirit lives in all of his children.

Gina said...

What a wonderful tribute to your father, Heather.

Thanks for posting that.

Suzanne said...

Thanks for sharing these memories of your father, Heather. Christmas can be such a painful time of year for those who have recently lost family members.

Cuppa said...

This one made me shed a few tears way over here in my corner of the country.

"God has given us our memories that we might have roses in December."
JM Barrie

I hope you receive a big bouquet of "roses in December" and your dad's fragrance fills the room as you gather together with your family.

Michele said...

i'm so glad i met your dad, but so sorry it was before i knew how special his daughters and sons-in-law and grandchildren would be to me. thanks for evoking the memories of a wonderful after-church conversation with a delightful man. i wish we would have talked longer...

Simply Coll said...

My dad died 6 years ago .. hard to believe, that much time has passed. We light a candle in his memory every Christmas. I still miss him every day.

This is a lovely post and a lovely tribute to your dad.

Judy said...

Heather, I wish I had met him too!