Missing my Dad for 28 Years

Today is my birthday and it will mark nearly half my life without my dad. My father died in 1986, on an Easter Sunday, while he was visiting my house. One minute we were talking and joking, the next he was gone, victim of a heart attack. Since then, not a day has gone by when I haven’t thought about him or wanted to talk to him again.

My feelings of loss, and the anger I still feel about the suddenness of the loss, and about him likely ignoring warning signs of heart troubles, motivated me to write “Talking with My Dad.” The play is based on my dad’s experiences, and my recent bout with heart trouble as well, but many of the details have been changed for drama’s sake.

My mother and father on their honeymoon in Atlantic City, 1949.

My mother and father on their honeymoon in Atlantic City, 1949.

Writing it, though, caused me to wonder how he would answer some of my pain and some of my questions about his health. And I fear in pursuing those thoughts I may have left out what I always thought was his most amazing quality — his sense of humor.

We were joking just before he died. My dad always had a theory that you should never buy the right, front leg of a lamb. Leg of lamb was a traditional Easter dish for us. Lambs scratched themselves more with that leg, he said, seriously most times but occasionally while laughing as he was that day.

We were standing near my kitchen sink preparing a leg of lamb I’d bought to make for Easter dinner. The two of us and my mother were holding it up, trying to figure out which leg it was. As my dad went down the back stairs of that house to a basement bathroom, he was joking it looked like the right, front leg. Those were the last words I heard him speak. When I found him downstairs later, he already had died.

I miss you every day dad. I never ate that lamb, we threw it away after coming back from the hospital and the undertaker’s that day. And I only tried making leg of lamb once more after that. Without you to help tell me which leg I was buying, I feel lost.

John

P.S. To read my Father’s Day tribute to my dad, click here.

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