Scars

February 8, 2012

My father died when I was four.

I don’t actually remember when he died. I honestly don’t remember losing him. I don’t even remember seeing my mother cry over what I know was, and still is, an unbearable loss – not only for her – but also for every person that ever knew and loved him.

I have always known, and just accepted, that he is gone.

For the past 32 years, I have kindly thanked the people who have offered their condolences when they realize my father is no longer alive. Most of the time, I quickly dismiss the conversation. I tell them it’s ok, everything happens for a reason, and that my mother and I are very lucky…that despite this loss, I have been loved so very much. We went to Disneyland every year. We made macaroni and cheese (with hot dogs of course). We wore matching pajamas and we did book reports. We went to Greece. We sang and danced in the living room and we swam on hot summer nights. I STILL get an Easter basket. Long story short, because of my mother…we NEVER fell apart. I am admittedly really hard on my mom (she can be a real pain in my a$$) – but she made cream of tuna on toast (the WORST dinner ever) fun. I dare you to try and feed your children that @#$%. Only a real woman, only a woman with some real fire in her belly could convince her little girl that meal is a treat – before they watch their favorite shows together.

It wasn’t until recently that I realized it wasn’t normal that I couldn’t remember anything about my father’s death. I spoke to a therapist (thank you mom – for letting me know – from a very young age – there is nothing embarrassing about asking for help) about this period of time and how it just seemed…blacked out. The therapist had small children of her own. Coincidentally, one of her children was the same age I was, when my father passed away. She told me something that comes to mind – at least once a day. She told me that her children’s father was one of the two most important people in their lives. And, if they were to lose their father, if he was to disappear, tomorrow – they would be wrecked.

While she did not expect me to remember every detail, she was certain I had buried the pain of that loss somewhere very deep. We talked for as long as I could stand talking about my dad, which truthfully, wasn’t much longer. Then she gave me some homework to do. She asked me to go to the cemetery. I had not been in months. Maybe even years.

It took me weeks to complete my assignment. I cried all the way there. I cried the entire time I was there. And I cried all the way home. It was as if someone had ripped the bandage off (of a huge wound I swore wasn’t even there in the first place).

I never thought I’d have to take a ride on this daddy issue rollercoaster right now, at this age, at this stage in my life. I’m still not really comfortable talking about it. At all. But…the more honest I am about the way it’s impacting my life, the more other women (and some men) have opened up to me about how their own losses and their own relationships – specifically with their fathers – are currently impacting them. And selfishly, I feel a little less alone.

I’m not brave enough to get more specific about how the loss of my father haunts me. Some of you know. Some of you will learn over time. And some of you will just hear me make really bad (although funny) jokes about it (sort of like the fluctuating size of my thighs).

For some reason, at this moment, I just had to get this off my chest. I already feel like I’m going to regret putting this blog post out in the universe…but I just could not keep it to myself.

So…thank you for listening.

And thank you Uncle Win, Chris, Tommy, Tony, Greg Miller, Tony Tamagni, Tony Santich, Dave Quirk and Gary Guenther. I know, throughout my life, if I ever needed anything at all – you would treat/love me like your own (even those of you I have not seen in years). I will be forever grateful for that. Your children, my best friends and family, are so incredibly lucky to have you – some of the most amazing men (yes, even you Tommy) I have ever met in my life.

I have so many other people I could thank for their love. But I’m drained. I want to stop writing about this now. Like the scars, the writing makes it real.

my father's headstone with fresh red flowers

{ 19 comments… read them below or add one }

Peggy Seitzinger February 8, 2012 at 11:25 pm

you don’t need any words from me, because you already have my heart

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Natalie February 18, 2012 at 4:42 pm

I just wanted to say thank you all for your comments. After I wrote this post…I literally walked away from it. I just couldn’t come back. I saw all of your comments and I am and have been beyond grateful for them. Writing about this was obviously cathartic for me but also difficult in ways I cannot even begin to describe. I sort of needed to wash my hands of the topic for a little while and toughen back up (if you will). In any event, I was surprised to see some of your names pop up…which meant more to me than you will ever know. Thank you so much for taking the time to read Natalie Daily and thank you so much for all of your love and kind words. I’m a little teary-eyed even just writing this…which is why I’m going to go back to avoiding this post for a while. All. My. Love.

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Paul Lanning February 8, 2012 at 11:47 pm

You are such a fabulous and amazing person, and your writing and the emotions behind it make that more clear with every post. I’m so touched by this one. And I’m thankful that I know you.

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Aaron Hageman February 8, 2012 at 11:56 pm

Hey Nat –

I won’t get into it, but thanks for this post. I lost my dad a year and a half ago and even my wife asked me why it “doesn’t seem to bother me.”

Your insight into your own situation has given me perspective on mine… perhaps it’s time to follow up.

I enjoy reading your stuff (even the estrogen driven ones!)

Aaron Hageman (from way back in the day!)

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Amanda C February 9, 2012 at 1:09 am

Oh Natalie.. I can empathize so much. I lost my brother when I was 11. While I have a lot of memories of the time before him, and very vivid ones about the day he passed, like you it’s not something I can deal with thinking about easily. Those scars burn. I generally try not to dwell on it over it, but everytime someone asks if I’m an only child, my chest throbs. It’s like the sympathy makes it hurt more. I cried when my best friend got married when I realized my brother would never get to see ME get married. I have only visited my brother’s grave once since he passed – when my great grandmother was laid to rest in the same cemetery. I cried so hard during her service and burial I thought I had lost my mind. All the memories of my brother’s passing were as fresh as the day they had happened. I still can’t bring myself to go back; lord knows the strength my mom has for visiting him once or twice each year. So *big big* hugs from me to you – I know SO how you feel.

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Danielle February 9, 2012 at 2:31 am

Natalie…..I applaud you for being so brave, for opening up and for sharing your heart! You truly are an AMAZING woman!
Thank you!
D

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Sue February 9, 2012 at 2:55 am

Nat, so much courage, vulnerability and beauty to open up and share some of your deepest emotions in this amazing writing; but then you have always been and remain to be an amazing, beautiful person. Thank you for sharing ~ Love, Sue

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Karen February 9, 2012 at 3:04 am

Natalie. I lost my father when I was 5. Like you that time of my life was blacked out. My brother who is three years older than I am does not remember our father’s death or even time with him prior to the time he became ill. I am now 59 years old and I still find myself deeply affected by his loss. I understand how you feel.

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Stephanie Claire February 9, 2012 at 5:36 am

Exceptional. You are rare, and very special.

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Lesley February 9, 2012 at 6:42 am

This makes me so very sad, for so many reasons. But I am very proud of you. Wish I’d read this before I had you ever tonight so we could chat a little in person about it. Maybe it’s better that we didn’t…

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Ashlee February 9, 2012 at 4:19 pm

You’re my hero. Also, food for thought: what’s more expensive – traffic tickets or therapy? They seem to be accomplishing the same thing….you should probably consolidate. Love you, friend.

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Griffin Reome February 9, 2012 at 4:34 pm

You have been able to describe the one thing no child or wife should go through. And you have done it in a way that was truly touching. After it all you have risen above certain misfortunes in life, when others in the same situation have chose not to. Those around you know and love you for that.

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Jennifer Myers February 9, 2012 at 6:05 pm

Bravest bangs I know. Love you, and love your writing.

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Delores Paulsen February 9, 2012 at 9:02 pm

I am a very lucky woman in so many ways. I have the most Amazing Daughter in the world.
I love you forever and always. Stars N Moons, Your Momma..

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Pam February 10, 2012 at 12:51 am

Natalie,
How special you are to all of us that love you! I cried after reading this today, not tears of sorrow but tears of happiness to see how much you love both you Mom and Dad! I hope someday Matty can write something this special about his Dad. You’re not alone and we all love you dearly.

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Richard February 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm

Natalie, I´m so sorry that the two of us never really have a chance to talk about our Dad. He definitely would of made a major impact on your life as he did to mine. I´m not going into detail, or get sentimental, because it hurts. You may not know this, but he was like a father to me. The Lyrics from James Taylor: You´ve got a friend
Winter, Spring, Summer or fall all you have to do is call I´ll be there.
Maybe we should talk.
Miss ya
T

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Ashley February 13, 2012 at 12:24 am

thank you for sharing this. i love how open you are.

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Papa Greg February 14, 2012 at 1:00 pm

Well Nat (more affectionately known at the “Brat”), you have forced me to peel back the skin of sacrasim and speak from the layers within. I’m honored to be included in the list of men in your life that have added value and insight into experiences that you missed with your Dad. I’m positive that he has been watching over you and is now at peace knowing that you are healing and and have becom the young woman that he is proud to call his daughter. Your Mom has done an incredible job raising you and filling the roles of both parents. No easy task for anyone, but expecially challenging when one’s daughter is so “opinionated and sarcastic”!

So, enough of the fluff – where are those taxes!

Papa Greg

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Susan Johnson Lanning April 25, 2013 at 12:06 pm

I can totally relate to what you went through losing your father. My dad died at 43, when I was just 14. It was so sudden; no chance for good-byes. I still remember hearing my mom crying in her bedroom every evening for many days, or probably weeks – their room was next to mine. My brothers were 10 and 16 – we were all so young – my parents had only been married for 18 years; my mom never dated anyone else, as far as I remember. They met in junior high school, both went away to college, but they were destined to be married to each other. We all had a wonderful childhood, until my dad passed away. My mom had to go to work and finish raising three kids, and we still had a great life, considering everything that had happened. She will be 96 soon!! I miss my father every day and wish he could have known my sons and my granddaughter. Your mom sounds like an amazing woman (like my mom!). All the best to you!!

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