Welcome to February's Poetry Collaboration. Each month a group of us bloggers get together, pick a theme, and submit poetry based on that theme. This month we chose the theme hearts. Considering I think of love and hearts and romance and friendship and cupid; whenever I think of February, hearts seemed like an amazing theme to me.
Now, I warn you now, I am going to get a bit verbose in this post. It is because I need to explain about the "poem" I am sharing. I am not even sure if it really is a poem. I had originally planned on writing a poem about this guy I once gave my heart to, and maybe one day, I will still share that. Something happened, as I was laying in bed, it was after midnight, I had woken up to use the bathroom, and curled back up in bed two nights ago. I was snuggled with my dad's Sherpa lined jean jacket, as I have been since the night I first took it from his house. We had arrived in Wyoming to handle his funeral and his final affairs. I walked into his house, and walked into my old bedroom, looked in my closet and saw THE jacket. The jacket I had loved for so many years, that he had told me "If I was a good girl, he might just give it to me one day". In the meantime, he let me wear it all the time, and I really loved it so very much.
So, as I was laying in bed, cuddling my dad's coat, I started thinking about the poem I was going to be writing for today. I had the basic outline. I knew how it would begin and end, and I knew I would create a few rhymes in the middle to tie it together. My thoughts then wandered to thoughts of my dad, and I started crying, and then the "poem" I have decided to share today came pouring out of my heart. It is weird. When I write my poetry, I do often write with my heart, but my brain is very much involved. I have to make just the right rhymes and I have to convey just the right images. However, this "poem" did not involve my brain. It is just my heart. So, I figured that whether it is a poem or not, it definitely fits the theme of hearts.
My tears are streaming down my face, onto your coat.
It reminds me of all the times in my life you held me, and I cried, and my tears wet your t-shirts.
Sometimes my tears were because of you. Sometimes they were because of life. Sometimes they were because of boo-boos.
I do remember that you gave the BEST hugs, and your boo-boo kisses were magical.
You came from a different time. You were forty years older than me, and the gap between our generations was quite vast.
I never thought much of it as a kid. I just knew you were old.
It is funny that I thought you were old, because as I stood beside you laying on the hospital gurney, your heart no longer beating, all I could think of was how young you were, and how you had so many years left, and that cancer took you far too soon.
It is weird how time changes perspectives. It is funny how death changes perspectives.
For many years, I would tell people how much I hated the way you raised me.
How I hated that you never spared the rod. How you never let me do anything fun.
How I hated how you held me back. How I hated how you were so overprotective.
I hated that your discipline was so excessive. I hated the bruises. I hated having to cut my own switches. I hated not being allowed to go to birthday parties for friends. I hated, I hated, I hated.
Yet, despite all that, I always told everyone that I loved you. That you were my dad, and I loved you wholeheartedly.
For so many years, I held onto these things that felt so huge, and I let them weigh me down. I let them help form the person I was becoming. I let them keep a wedge between us, that never seemed to really go away, and never let us be as close as we could have been.
When I was eighteen, I called you, and I told you that I forgive you for all the bad things you had ever done to me.
My therapist told me that I needed to forgive, so that I could move on. She said I would probably never forget, but that I could forgive. I could choose to release the control these weights had on me, weighing me down and molding me.
So, I called you, and I forgave you. You were confused, and I think a bit hurt, but you heard me out.
You told me you were sorry I felt that way, but you only did what was best for me.
Forgiving you was good for me. I am glad I did it, because it enabled me to move beyond a lot of these self-imposed issues I had made for myself. It also helped me to look forward far more, than I was looking back towards the past.
Despite forgiving you, I still remembered things, and at times they would come up in conversations with people. I still felt pain over how I was hurt as a child.
Now, as I cling to your coat, and my tears are making it wet against my cheek, I realize that I am not crying for what was, but for what could have been.
I wish I knew then, what I know now, but I think that is something we can all say.
Since you left this Earth, my view of you has changed.
My view of the past has changed.
My view of my actions have changed.
My view of your actions have changed.
I spent a lifetime focusing on all the wrong things, and I did not even know it.
When you died, when I got that call my heart broke so completely.
My Daddy was gone.
My mind flooded with memories.
It took me a day to realize something so profound, that I wish I had realized long ago.
The memories that flooded my mind, weren't the memories I spent all those years dwelling on.
They were memories, that I had filed away, because I was too focused on remembering the things that had upset me.
I had forgotten all the good, and you know what? There was so much GOOD.
I realize now that you were the best dad you were able to be.
You did the best you knew how to do.
You were a country boy, from a farm in North Carolina, and you had a little girl to care for all on your own.
That is exactly what you did. You cared for me.
You fed me. You clothed me. You made sure I got an education, a luxury you didn't get the benefit of.
You taught me right from wrong. You taught me to respect my elders. You taught me the importance of helping those in need, even if you did not have much yourself. You taught me to be strong. You taught me to speak my mind. You taught me to stand up for what I believe in. You taught me to volunteer every chance I get. You taught me that mistakes happen, and to learn from them. You taught me to be kind to everyone, no matter who they are, and that if they aren't kind back, to be even kinder to them. You taught me the importance of respecting my parents. You taught me the importance of music. You taught me to believe in myself, even if nobody else does. You taught me to stand up for what is right, no matter what I may lose in the process. You taught me how to fish. You taught me not to judge people until I get to know them, and even then to understand it's only my opinion which isn't even worth a penny. You taught me what great food was. To this day, your cooking is my favorite, and I regret having gone so long without eating one of your delicious meals. You taught me so very, very much. I am forever grateful.
You also taught me that things were way different in the 30's and 40's, than they were in the 80's and 90's. I realize now, that your means of discipline weren't you being abusive. It was you doing what you grew up knowing as right. Now, that I am thirty-six, I can confidently say, that if you knew how much your discipline hurt me emotionally, you never would have done it. I wish I had talked to you.
I wish I had talked to you about so many things. Not just things from when I was a child, but things from every year of my life. I wish I had gotten rid of the wedge that I let keep you at a distance, and I wish I had let you in so much more. You deserved that. I deserved that. I did us both a disservice, and unfortunately I did not realize it, until it was too late.
I know hearts heal. I know mine will heal. I just know it will take time.
I can honestly say, that now that you are gone, I am so much wiser. Too little, too late.
I have been bombarded with all these amazing memories, that were just sitting in the recesses of my mind getting dusty. I was so focused on all the wrong things, and I never got to enjoy the good things.
I miss you. I miss you so much. Gigi misses you. I am going to continue to tell her all these dusty memories, so that she can get to know you better. She deserves that.
You deserve to be remembered.
I am so sorry that I realized all of these things too late.
I am so sorry I was not a better daughter.
I am so sorry I was not a better communicator.
In my defense, I am pretty sure I got that from you.
I found all the cards and letters I sent you over the years, and I saw all the little notes to me you wrote on them. You must have known I would see them one day. I wish you had said those things to me. Many of them, I had no idea.
I honestly thought you thought I was a terrible daughter, but to see you write that you were so thankful to be my dad and you were so proud of me, really felt wonderful.
Let's make a deal, when I get to Heaven, let's communicate way better there, than we did on Earth.
I really wish you had told me things, Dad.
I know why you didn't. It is the same reason, I have not really told you the depth of how sick I am.
I wanted to protect you.
I just need you to know, if I had known just how badly sick you were, I would have come to you.
Chad said that is exactly why you never told me, and I am guessing he is right.
I honestly thought you were invincible and would outlive me.
You are the strongest person I have ever known. How you kicked cancer's butt so many times, I will never understand.
I am so sorry that it finally won.
I am so sorry it happened before I figured out that the good things are the important things.
I am so sorry I spent so much time focused on the bad things.
I promise that I will make sure Gigi knows to focus on the good.
She's stubborn like her Papa Charlie. So, as you can imagine, I have my hands full.
My heart hurts so badly, but it will heal. Hearts heal. That is what they do.
I love you.
I genuinely felt so badly, that my contribution to this poetry collaboration, was not much of a poem, so I decided to do one of my favorite types of poems, just to give this post a bit more of a poetic feel.
Start of a happily ever after
So, as I warned, my main content really isn't a poem, but it is just what spilled out of my heart, and so it is what I decided to share. My dad and I always had a difficult relationship. He was a single dad in his forties and fifties, raising a stubborn girl. I was a hard kid to raise. I was a good kid, but I definitely had issues processing emotions, and it often got bottled up into these weights I carried on my shoulders. I honestly think, if I had communicated with my dad better, we would have ended up having an even better relationship.
He was such a good man. He taught me so much about the importance of being a good person, doing good deeds, and helping others. I am so grateful for that. These days, some of the biggest joys in my life are volunteering. Now, that I have Gigi to volunteer with me, it is even better. I can only hope my dad enjoyed volunteering with me, as much as I enjoy volunteering with Gigi.
One undeniable truth about my dad, is that he was always there for me. For many years, he had a 800 number, connected to a land line in his home, and I could always call him anytime day or night. He wanted me to always be able to reach him, and if I were out and about, (pre-cell phone days), all I had to do was find a payphone and I could call him right up. I have been blessed with many wonderful people in my life, but my dad was definitely one of the most dependable people in my life.
Before he died, my Dad and I had a conversation, and he told me that he loved Chad. I was pretty amazed by this, because in all the years I have been with Chad, my dad had never really given him the nod of approval, and my dad was notorious for hating any guy I ever liked. He told me to thank Chad for always taking care of Gigi and I, and for helping to give him Gigi. My dad loved Gigi so much, and I was grateful for that. He and Gigi would talk on the phone often, and he kept her laughing. I will always regret they never met in person, and that I have no pictures of them together.
My Dad did not tell me that he had Pancreatic cancer. He simply told me his cancer was back, and he would be fighting it again. He had battled cancer and won so many times, I honestly thought he would win again. He purposely did not tell me how sick he was, because I think he knew that I would have gone to him. I would have needed to bring Gigi with me, and I honestly do not think he wanted me or Gigi to see him so sick. I found out he died of Pancreatic Cancer, when I received his death certificate in the mail.
I just really want to tell you guys something... Life is full of good things and bad things. It is full of ups and downs. Please, don't ever get so focused on the bad things, that you forget the good things. Let yourself enjoy and remember the good things. Those are the important things. Also, communicate openly with the people you love. Let them know how you feel. Let them tell you. Do not bottle up hurt. Do not let it weigh you down. Talk about it.
I am so sorry that my poetry post was not poetic. I am also sorry it was such a sad piece. Lucky for you guys, you can now go check out the rest of this month's poetry posts, and enjoy some awesome poetry!!
Links to February's Hearts Poetry Round-Up:
Karen of Baking In A Tornado
Dawn of Cognitive Script
Lydia of Cluttered Genius
Diane of On the Border