There are moments that grip. They don't let go and threaten to hold on forever. They never do but the feeling is there.
I was driving to work on Thursday, two days before my father's birthday. He was a Valentine's baby born in 1946. In the lead-up to what would have been his 69th birthday I was overcome with grief. This is a rare occurence. For a while it was regular and I was ready for it. On Thursday however, I wasn't ready. It grabbed and held on. I wondered, should I pull over? Should I let it take it's course or should I fight it? I held onto the steering wheel and kept driving.
I wasn't gripped by my father's death or the hole in my recent calls list where his calls would have been. I was gripped by regret. I was gripped by anger at Influenza B. At trying to "help" him be healthier. I was gripped by the regret of lost moments and at the frustration that I wasn't able to learn his lesson the easy way.
My father was a funny old guy. Funny in the sort of funny becuase he was different from me sort of way. He was also very predictable. Around the Valentines day before he died he had contracted Influenza B. A strain of the flu that wasn't covered by the flu shot. We were advised to not be around him because "you don't want to risk Alma getting IT". After this year's rounds with the flu I realize now that we should have gone. Regret.
We didn't go.
February 14, 2012
My father always bought his own presents. He knew what he wanted and needed, which wasn't much I could afford. He needed medication. Cancer isn't cheap. He needed nice. At his age he wasn't going to settle. He needed us. We weren't there.
We could have afforded to be there but we weren't. We could have taken the time for a 45 minute drive. I don't know what we did. I know we called and I apologized for the lack of present. Little did I know that we were the present. The easiest to give and we didn't give. Was this his final lesson to me? Perhaps.