This Father's Day I Remember

By Chelsea Irvine

As I gently brushed the dust from the 1968 edition of The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, it hit me: he’s gone.

Perhaps this is why it took me nine years to finally do as my mom asked and clear out the hundreds of books my dad had amassed over the years.  Fifty seven years of hard- and soft-bound literature on topics from 9/11 to Charles Lindberg were some of the last tangible reminders of who my dad was.

IMG_1448This realization made my heart ache and a lump form in my throat.

Maybe it wasn’t the best idea to tackle this project the week before Father’s Day, but that’s a lesson I’ll just have to learn the hard way.

I allow myself three days every year to feel sad and not feel bad about it: his birthday (two weeks after mine), the day he passed away and Father’s Day.  Every other day I insist to myself I just suck it up.  Get over it.  It’s been almost a decade. You can’t be sad anymore.  The statute of limitations on tears has sailed by.

No matter how I tried to fight, when I boxed up the last of the books and left the house I spent my teenage years in, I lost it. Reality can be harsh.

I did serious wallowing for the next couple of days, unsure about how to drag myself out of it, with Father’s Day staring at me from the weekend ahead.

That’s when I realized that this is exactly the opposite of what he would want.  Tears?  No chance.  Rob Irvine wouldn’t stand for that business.

So I made a decision.  Instead of feeling bad for myself yet again, this year I start something different.  I’ve been going over in my head the many things he taught me over the years:

  • How to make people smile
  • The importance of making everyone feel welcome (even the drunk homeless man who let himself in our home to get a drink out of our kitchen sink, to which my dad simply asked him, “Would you like a glass?”)
  • How to laugh off my first heartbreak
  • To learn from said heartbreak what is really important to look for in a significant other
  • To live in the moment and have no regrets
  • That everyone deserves a good nickname that tells a story, whether or not it’s the story they themselves want to tell (I was stuck with Piglet for years)
  • That you have to respect your family, but sometimes your friends are your closest family
  • Always tell them you love them and they are important to you
  • Being successful takes hard work
  • Being educated is so important, and a good education doesn’t come from sitting in a classroom
  • Always know your facts before you enter the debate
  • The key to being the best parent you can be is simply to be present and interested
  • Every child should be embarrassed at one time or another by their parents (and in my case, many times)
  • Life is oh so short, and should be lived to the fullest

So this year, I’m starting a new tradition.  Today, I stop being afraid and start going for it.  Today, I tell my loved ones how I feel.  Today, I remember everything that I loved, and everyone else loved about him, and I let it make me happy that he could touch so many lives, and not sad that he’s gone.

Maybe I’ll even move past my fear of ever having children, knowing they would grow up without the amazing grandfather I know my pops would have been. Because maybe, just maybe, I could teach them the things he taught me, and a little part of him could live on.

To all you dads out there, you are important.  There is no more important job on the planet.  Enjoy every second and tell your kids you love them.  Go to their games and wear that shirt you know will make them cringe.  Talk to them about what’s important and what isn’t.  Teach them all the things they will hold with them forever.

Thank you for everything you do.  Being a parent is hard work.  But the reward lasts far longer than any of us know.

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