Today marked the fourth funeral in a week and, as a result, four more of my good friends being inducted into the Dead Dads’ Club. When I first heard that term, I’ll admit, it was a bit of a shocker. Dead Dads’ Club. Seemed so harsh. And what a crappy club to be a member of. Funny thing, the people who gave it the moniker were all charter members. They all had dead dads, and knew, firsthand, just how lousy that was. And is. And so, if anyone is allowed to coin a name for a club, harsh or not, it’s for sure a bunch of people living the life. People with dead dads.
Here’s the thing. I’m not yet a member of the club, but my heart breaks for all of my friends who are. Dads are supposed to be around for a really, really long time. And when, somehow, inexplicably, sometimes before you even had time to catch your breath, something happens that takes your dad from you – well, it’s pretty awful. And that’s an understatement. My husband’s dad has Alzheimer’s and he feels as if his dad was stolen from him years ago. But he can still go sit with him, take our kids to see Grandpa and read him The Big Red Barn while feeding him Cheetos dipped in peanut butter. It’s not the same as if Grandpa were “normal,” but at least he’s there – somewhere. And we get to have him in our lives.
Once you’re a member of the Dead Dads’ Club you don’t get to visit, eat Cheetos or read books. You just get to remember. And wish that maybe you’d done things a little differently. Called more often. Visited more regularly. Appreciated more and gotten frustrated less. Forgiven more and remembered less (dads are only human, you know). Paid more attention to your dad and less to yourself and your busy, busy life.
So this is for all you people who, like me, aren’t yet members of the Dead Dads’ Club. Wise up. Let this be a reminder that you’ve only got one dad and he’s only around for as long as God decides to lend him to us. And, that can be taken away, often in the blink of an eye. And certainly before any of us are ready – if there’s ever such a thing. Pick up the phone, get in the car, book a flight – do whatever it is that you need to do, but make sure that your dad is a part of your life. Right now. Before it’s too late.
You might even thank me.