This weekend I watched the movie The Judge with Robert Downy Jr. I had no idea that this movie would tug on my heart the way it did.
Watching this movie made me think of my dad. The movie even ends with Willie Nelson singing. One of my fondest memories of time with my dad was singing Willie Nelson songs while we followed the Rhine River through some of the most picturesque little towns in Germany. It was one of the only tapes he had in the car, so we listened and sang Willie for many, many hours up the Rhine and then back down the Rhine.
Listening to my dad sing was then, and will always be a great comfort. He was not the best singer, but you could hear his heart in every note. It was like eating meatloaf and mashed potatoes, just pure comfort.
My dad died the week before Christmas this year. He had been sick for several years with no signs of doing the things he needed to do to get better.
While I had written and spoken to him at length over the years, the minute he was gone hundreds of things popped into my head that I wish I had talked with him about. I had been mad at him for choosing to kill himself a little bit more each day. I had been mad at him and tried to distance myself for what was coming.
I know he loved me. I know he was proud of me. But no matter how much you prepare, there is always so much more you wish they had said. I wish I had video taped him telling me he loved me. I wish I had video taped him telling me that he was proud of the woman I had become.
I know he would have written or video taped it if he had known for a second that there was ever any doubt in my head. I didn't ask because that would have forced us to deal with the fact that he was dying. That being said, I am sad I won't ever get to hear him rattle on with those long speeches about what he thought I should do or those tender moments right before we hung up when he would say "I love you Mel." Then he would blow kisses into the phone which was so unbelievably corny, until you realize you won't hear them again.
Losing a parent hurts, like deep in ways you cant begin to fathom. There will be so many moments when I will wish he was strong and healthy and by my side. But he wasn't strong and healthy. Losing a parent before they get sober is heart breaking. He was small and weak and unable to take care of himself. I didn't like seeing him dying. There is a smell to those who are slowly dying. I didn't want to smell that. It was easier to be thousands of miles away.
Losing a parent before you get your shit together as like a real grown up sucks too.
There will be a day when I am being interviewed about the work I am doing and the books I have written and he would have video taped it and mailed me a copy because he was so proud. There will be moments when I will holding my grand babies for the first time and he won't be there to tease me in all of my glowing happiness.
Next week I fly home to see my sister & my Mamaw and to lay my dad's cremains to rest. Full military honors, surrounded by tons of family in my very small home town. I can't believe he won't be there to pick me up. Just surreal to think through why I am going home.
The Judge was a really great movie. Anger, cussing, sibling bullshit, messiness and love, just like real family life.