3 months ago I lost my father.
He passed away at home. We think he had a massive heart attack.
My dad and I never had the best relationship. He’s an old school, short, Greek man. And in traditional Greek culture, the men are viewed on a more prestigious pedestal than women.
Men carry down the family name, own the land, make the money, blah blah blah BS. So, in other words, my brother could do no harm in my father’s eyes.
I tried my hardest to have the relationship I wanted, and deserved, to have with my dad. I’d call him to see if/when we’d see him. I encouraged him to come to anything school related I was in. I called him on the holidays and his birthday. I always made in effort.
I hope he’s realized how hard I tried to make it work.
There was a lot I didn’t know about my father and the lives he lived…
Yes, I did mean lives.
When I went down to Florida, where he lived the last six or so years, I learned more about my father in four days than I did in 25 years.
I never knew my father was sick.
In fall 2017, I received a message from my step-sister saying my dad was in the hospital. Didn’t tell me what but that he was admitted. I cried a puddle of tears in fear, and I called him, like any daughter would do. He yelled at me for knowing because I wasn’t supposed to know. He told me it was pneumonia and that they were only keeping him because “they want money.”
He never wanted me to worry about anything, especially about him… so I didn’t.
I never did worry about him.
Two years later, I learned it wasn’t pneumonia. He was filling up with fluid, turning his legs black and blue. His retaining of fluid led to a week in the hospital and diagnoses of heart failure, respiratory obstruction and diabetes.
No pneumonia after all.
At the time of his passing, my dad was roughly 42 inches circumference. All my life he was 36 inches.
I had no idea. He sounded like my dad on the phone. I miss the tone he used when I’d say, “Hi, daddy,” and him saying, “Hi koùkla.”
He was always so excited to talk to me.
I learned about the life he led in Greece. Why he left and what happened next.
Through my dad’s passing, I finally got in touch with my half-sister. We’re both into the arts and theatre, which to be quite honest without you, I had NO IDEA where my passion of the arts rooted from. I also didn’t know that she reached out to my step-mom in 2014.
That’s a whole different story I’m not going to tell but it leads me to my next point.
My father wasn’t the nicest man. He held grudges, he had a temper, he had a dark side I’ve seen too many times. He kept everything and everyone separate.
When I moved to Ithaca when I was 13, he was furious. Furious that I was leaving, having the convenience of knowing I’m right down the street. He always said he made a mistake of “letting” me go.
Between 2007 and 2012, I went back to NH every other weekend for my father. He came to see me in Ithaca twice.
He moved to Florida without telling my brother and I. I hope he sees that what he did and I did weren’t too far a part. Only difference is that I told him and made an effort.
He lied and kept secrets from me.
He told me he stopped smoking after the “pneumonia” incident; he did stop but picked up vaping. He stopped working when I turned 18 since he didn’t have to give child support anymore. I learned so much from my step-mom, a woman I was made to dislike by my dad.
My step-mom never heard much of us after I started college, I probably wouldn’t be wrong by saying high school, too. Not because she wasn’t interested but because my dad never spoke of us.
She said he’d always go outside when I called. She’d ask about us but he never told her. She’s the unsung hero in this whole story.
My dad made her out to be evil and manipulative. She paid for child support some months, she told him to call us and see us. When I visited them in 2017, my first time being in Florida as an adult, she suggested all these different places to go and see and take me to.
We didn’t do anything she said.
My dad stopped working in 2012 and they’ve lived off a single income for over seven years. And my step-mom is one of the hardest working people I know.
She practices putting peace into the world, hoping to receive that back. She came to my high school graduation and I didn’t even know it because my dad kept it from us. She always asked about my brother and I. I feel bad I ever thought ill of her because I was made to believe she was bad.
She was never the bad one in the equation, far from it actually. She put up with a lot shit from dad and I commend her for doing such thing because it couldn’t have been easy.
Maybe all I’ve written is word vomit but the truth is I’ve been trying to wrap my head around all I’ve learned about my dad and who I thought my dad was. I know he’s gone but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Parts of me are really angry. Parts of me are effing sad. Parts of me feel bad for him. Parts of me want a redo. And parts of me are trying to let go.
My dad did a lot of things to himself; not making the effort to see us or financially support us, taking noticable interests in our lives. Remembering who we are.
My mom never spoke one negative word about my dad, even when she was mad at him. She’s even said he was never the same after they separated and divorced; as we’ve gotten older, she’s said he wasn’t the man she originally married.
She always knew what was going to happen by the choices he made.
And she did say he would die alone.
Part of me believes he did. Part of me knows she’s right. It’s like being in a crowded room and being alone at the same time.
My mom told when she was younger, already married to my father and pregnant with my brother, she saw a psychic. Take it for what you will on what I’ll say next; the psychic told her that her husband would die when she’s 47.
I never thought about it much, almost forgetting about it completely. How true could it be???
My dad passed on Sept. 11 at the age of 75. My mom turned 48 Oct. 30.
It didn’t hit me with that connection until my mom went to the ER and her ID tag showed her age.
Through it all, and believe me when I say this, I love my dad and I miss him so much.
I took for granted that I could call him when I pleased and knew he would answer. I look in the mirror and all I see is my dad; I look, and I’m built, just like him. I gave good traits from dad; I’m ambitious, I’m a hard-worker, I’m curious.
Not a day goes by where I don’t think of him; or have his voice run through my head so I don’t forget it.
I burst into a puddle of tears when I had to mark an “X” on deceased next to my dad’s name. I cried over the fact none of my family asked me how I was doing over losing my father during the holidays.
It made me think I was crazy for missing my dad… I know I’m not. I have every right to be sad, he’s my dad.
I’m learning to slowly let go of negative emotions I have in other to remember him for the good. It doesn’t excuse him for anything bad he did but it’s more energy to worry about the things I can’t change or redo.
I know he’s given me signs that he’s here with me, making up for the time he chose not to be there. I truly believe that he’s letting me know he’s here with me every step of the way. Certain things that have happened weren’t by accident; I believe everything happens for a reason.
I have a lot of feelings to work through. I have to decide what to do with his ashes that are sitting up in my coat closet. I have to make peace with a lot of things. I have to let go. I have to fully accept all the things between us that I haven’t been able to do yet.
My mom told me, “just because you’re not crying, doesn’t mean you’re not grieving.”
It couldn’t be more true.
My dad wasn’t perfect. He’s not the type of father I want for my children. I wouldn’t wish what I went through on anyone. But he was meant to be my dad. And I love my dad so much.
And I miss him more than anyone could possibly know.