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The Problem with Past Tense

My dad died in 2006. Death is a strange thing. It’s not like you stop missing someone, but you get used to it. I don’t think you get over it. I think you just learn to accept it. Dad is no longer here. It sucks. it will continue to suck, but it’s the way it is.

Today my mum and I had to re-add me to the safety deposit box because the bank ‘lost’ part of my access. DON’T GET ME STARTED – THIS BANK, MY GOD. IT’S NOT LIKE MY MUM HAS BEEN A CLIENT FOR FORTY YEARS OR SOMETHING. Anyway, we have to review the list of people for the safety deposit box. Guess what? My dad is still on the list. We said, you know, we removed him when he died. He shouldn’t be on the list. You should take him off the list. He’s dead.

The bank dude was like, “UMMMM, I can’t take people off the list without my manager *anxious shifty eyes*.”

We went back and forth for a few minutes, and I finally said, “well leave him on the list, I guess it’s not like he’ll be dropping by to access the box!” My mum laughed and agreed, “Yeah, it’s not like he’ll stop by!” We chuckled, but the young bank teller was visibly uncomfortable.

But, I have a problem with the past tense sometimes. It doesn’t always come up. I’m okay saying “My dad used to own a restaurant” – he sold it before he died. I can also say, ” My dad read Louis l’Amour books.” He did. Or, “My dad tried to garden but never had the time.”

Strangely, I struggle with, “My dad was Greek.”

I know this may seem odd, but it’s like when I say he WAS Greek that he’s no longer Greek or he lost his ‘greekness’ when he died. But he is Greek. He’ll always be Greek. Canadian too! But how else do I say it? He’s “Dead but Still Greek”?

I feel like I need a tense in between past and present.

Death, man. It’s weird even after millions of years of evolution.

 

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It’s that Time of Year Again….

Father’s Day ads popping up all over.

Le Sigh.

I mean, it’s not like I don’t think of Dad at other times of the year – his birthday, Christmas,  or just random times throughout the year [usually right after Jenge has done something very dad-like]. But Father’s day still kind of sticks out. And it’s not like we really celebrated it hugely when he was alive, but after he died, it really became not so much Father’s Day as HEY HERE IS A BIG DAY  DEDICATED TO YOU NOTICING YOUR DAD IS DEAD.

Only they don’t make a card that says that.

I guess I get the most bummed out on how much I feel like he missed. Or rather, how much I’ve missed not having him here. I do believe in an afterlife and I have this notion that he’s kept up with us all, but I feel bummed out and cheated on behalf of ME not getting to have him around.

 

Dad – Seven Years later

You're in the army now!

You’re in the army now!

The above pic is of my dad when he was in the Greek Army. I’m not sure of the year. Check out those pants! The beret! The mustache!

He died August 2006. After seven years, I wish I had something profound or helpful to say on the topic of his passing.

Death sucks. No two ways about it.

It’s tough because we all want there to be something profound and helpful to say, don’t we? When someone suffers a loss we’re all just praying we have that one kernel of wisdom that will help them through. The only thing I’ve learned is that sometimes there are easy or better ways for people pass over, but it’s always going to suck. If you had a good relationship, a bad relationship, an impartial one – something will shift in you and won’t ever be the same.

I’m very fortunate – I had a great dad. Seven years after his passing and I’m tearing up just writing this, like it was yesterday. Sometimes it feels like it was. Sometimes it feels like it’s been forever.

After seven years, I wouldn’t say I have wisdom but I do feel like I’ve learned some things.

1. He wasn’t just ‘mine’ to lose – it probably sounds so obvious, but it really through me for a loop seeing my dad’s friends distraught at his passing. His surviving sisters were just gutted – gutted in a way that I could appreciate but felt like couldn’t express myself. They’re Greek, and so expressing emotion is more… allowable (?) for them. Friends of his from when he first came to Canada told us stories about my dad when he first came here and it was so strange realizing that these people, who were kind of like strangers to me, had lost something too. My mother as well lost a husband and a partner.

2. I was so lucky to have my sisters and my mum –  I felt like with all these other people who had lost something, my sisters understood the same loss I had felt.

3. I hate when people won’t or can’t talk about the dead – I hated when, for the first couple of days, months, years I would bring up my dad and people sometimes seemed to ‘freeze’ – like the didn’t know how to respond. I understand it, but I hated it. Just because he’s dead doesn’t mean he’s not still a big part of my life. My feelings for my dad and my relationship with him didn’t die the same day he did. To me, not discussing him is a disservice to his memory.

4. It still sucks.

5. It’s not fair. Some people don’t even like their dads or have really shitty dads but they’re still alive. It’s cruel and it’s mean to think it but I do.

6. Father’s day still sticks out. Although I prefer to think of him or remember him on Father’s day or his name day or his birthday rather than his death date. His death date was the ‘least’ part of his life, yanno?

7. Everyone dies. As he used to say, “When St. Peter is calling, there is no ‘take a message’.”

I guess it all sounds pretty maudlin and depressing. I don’t mean it that way. But if anyone stumbles across this post after just losing their dad, all I can say is – It sucks, man. It really does. You learn to live with it and that’s okay. You’ll be okay.