So convinced our family is, that had he lived, he would surely have changed the world. To this day, we still hold his death on par with that of JFK and MLK. To this day, I still believe it. It's how his death touched me personally that I had never really thought about.
The last time I ever saw my father was during my ninth birthday party. He had been suffering from lung cancer for the previous several years, and on this evening, he couldn't breath. The ambulance was called, and off he went, and that was that, and the party went strangely on. It was a slumber party, and Tam Tam was there, and the only other thing I remember from that night is the hairbrush, comb, mirror, and little string of pearls she gave me for my birthday.
The last time my father ever saw me was from a fifth floor hospital window, as my sisters and I stood in the parking lot behind the building. I remember looking up, waving as if I could see him, pretending I could see him, when really I couldn't. Later, I had wondered what the point had been, since I couldn't see my father. Then I realized the point wasn't so we could see him, it was so he could see us, his three little girls, for the last time.
When he died several weeks later, I became a girl without a father. The implications of this didn't really hit me until the last several years, almost 30 years after the event. At some point, I just assumed that everyone lost their father somehow, and that was the way it was.
When I was getting divorced, my sister-in-law, who was also getting divorced at the time, handed me a rather large wad of cash. My utilities had all been turned off when my ex left, since I naively allowed him to put everything in his name. I was being starved out waiting for an agreement that would let me refinance the house, putting groceries and gas on my credit card, along with thousands of dollars in lawyer fees. Still, I have a ton of vanity and pride, and refused the money.
Then she said "Paula, you need to take this money. You don't realize the difference it makes to have your father behind you, and the impact it has on the outcome, because you don't have one. If you did, like I do, he would never allow you to be treated this way. So take this money and don't worry about paying it back."
I've been thinking about it ever since, and that she was totally right. So, maybe it's time to write about girls without fathers, and allow myself to understand what it truly meant to me. So there you have it.