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"i've Gone To Find Myself. If I Get Back Before I Return, Keep Me Here."

I never really had my dad while growing up. He was an alcoholic and it was rare that he ever saw us. About two years before his death, he stopped drinking and we became very close. Well, as close as we could be considering he lived 1200 miles away. In August of 2007, he came to visit me for two weeks. He brought three big scrap books filled with photographs and letters I wrote and pictures I drew and sent to him. He spent the entire two weeks at my house, but went out every day to visit friends he hadn't seen in a while. A couple days before he left, he told us he had lymphoma cancer, but reassured us that he'd be fine. He had his first treatment scheduled for the day after my birthday, August 21st. Before he left, he gave me my baby shoes that he had kept on his dresser all these years. He left my driveway 5 times. The last time he pulled away, it felt strange. I wanted to run down the street and chase him down and tell him to just stay with us, we'd take care of him. I just had this awful feeling that it was the last visit. October 2nd, 2007, as I was walking out of McDonald's and into my van, my mother called me to tell me he had passed away the night before. All the blood rushed out of my head and down to my toes. It didn't seem real at all. I told her I had to get off the phone because I felt dizzy. I called my little sister, and her reaction made me finally cry. Till then, it wasn't real, so I didn't cry right away. The drive to New York to bury him was cold and quiet, empty, strange. Choosing a casket was something I'd never imagined having to do. We found a shirt for my daddy to be buried in that read "I've Gone to Find Myself. If I get back before I return, keep me here." We couldn't find a tie dye shirt that we wanted, but this one was just as good. We buried him just near the Adirondaks Mountains in upstate New York, just several feet from a gorgeous lake. He can go fishing any time now.

I miss him...I miss him all the time. I finally got my daddy back, and he was taken away again. I'll cherish the time I did have though.

alleybow alleybow 26-30, F 2 Responses Jan 3, 2010

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I was looking for the text of that quote when I stumbled across your story. I could not walk past without sharing my experience with you.

I did not have my father for many years, not due to any fault of his own, but due to the bitterness my mother felt after the divorce. She would tell me again and again what an evil man he was. I was not yet six years old at the time of the divorce. The lies she told me got worse and worse. I grew up being taught to hate my father.

Fast forward a few decades. My sister, who had left years earlier to live with my father, had gotten back in touch with me, though only on a sporadic basis. My mother, bitter over my sister's leaving, had been teaching me to hate her too.

But then I met the woman who I would have for my wife. She did not meet my mother's standard. My mother then tried to do everything she could to try to break us up. One day, she went too far, telling me another lie that I already knew to be false. I got to thinking about all the other stuff she had crammed into my head. I called my sister, and asked for my father's contact information. I called my father.

To say the least, it was the happiest day of my father's life. We began talking every Sunday, and slowly but surely, peeled back the layers of deception. It turns out that everything, I mean everything, was the exact opposite of what she had told me. I also came to realize why she had been so hard on me growing up. It turned out that, even through that long separation, I had grown up to be very much like my father. The expressions we used, the way we would laugh, the penchant for punning. When we would go to visit him, Dad and I ( yes, he was now my Dad again ) would start swapping puns so pungent that everyone would leave the room ..... and shut the door....

We had a few years to enjoy each other's company. Until he came down with colon cancer. He survived the surgery ... he survived the chemo therapy... He called one day to tell me that "last week I was oncology, this week I'm off-cology". Two weeks later, he passed away.

I miss my father, my dad, but I feel he is always with me. Before he left this world, years before his death, he had given me a legacy that I shall carry with me until after I die. One Sunday after our usual hour long telephone call, he had gone to fix dinner for him and his wife. A few minutes later he called back. I asked what he had forgotten to tell me. He answered "I just peed on the the floor." I shook my head and said "Why did you do that?" Then the silent laughter before he answered. "I was in the kitchen fixing dinner when I opened up a bag of frozen peas. The bag broke spilling the peas on the floor."......... He had just "pea'd" on the floor..... .....

I lost my father as well, and I got him back. But before I lost him again, we shared so very much. I miss him deeply, but then again, I carry the memories we had made with me every moment of every day.

Thankyou so much for your wonderful words, they made my day. I can't believe how much we have in common. Me and my Dad would always write letters to each other and sometimes he would send me a little cash or a ticket to come visit, (I am famously broke all the time) haha. I kept all his letters in a box tied with a ribbon and after his funeral my Mom, sister and me went through his things and I found all my letters in his bedside drawer, tied with a ribbon, it was heart-warming and heartbreaking at the same time. It is true that I have resentment for my Mom, but not just over my nightmare youth, its how she treated Dad that hurt. He would tell me the hurtful things she would say to him and she NEVER showed emotion. I describe her as a mix between, "Hycinth" from "Keeping up Apperances" and "Cybil's mother". I swear she had split personalities, weird that only I saw the Mr. Hyde to her Jekyl. I think in a way she was jealous of me and Dad's bond, the more she pushed me away, the closer he and I became, plus he gave hugs and she don't show no emotion. I have a very BIG problem that maybe you could relate to or understand, I come from a very relgious Christian family. I love God and a big fan of Jesus and the Holy Ghost. I used to pray all the time and mostly thank God for sunny days, and keeping me and my friends and family safe, I prayed alot for him to help me be a better person and to help loved ones who needed a little extra help. When Dad died, I suddenly stopped, I am so sorry to say that the last few times I talked to God, I ask him to let me join Dad, I just missed him so much. Its been 2 years and I cant pray, I dont know why, I dont blame God for taking Dad, he's a real heavenly asset, haha. and death is part of life. I dont know whats wrong with me. I though about seeing a priest or something but I dont like organised religon, I have a person relationship with God, Ive read and studied my bible and have my own interpretations. Im stuck!!! On the scary side, my mom tortured me with religon, her favorite sayings to me were, either, "I wished you were never born" and "You are going to Hell, where its burning and there is gnashing of teeth" it started when I was 4 or 5yrs old. yikes!!! Any advice to get me started again, I think part of me maybe cant pray because I feel that my heart is tainted by bad feelings about mom, and God knows what Im feeling, but now that she is reaching out for more corispondence, I also feel like a bad person shutting her out, buuuutttttt, if a talk to the stubborn old mule she will play that same record about how much she thinks I suck and blow. Arghh

If you have any advice I would really appreciate it as I miss praying. And also if you have any questions, maybe I can help, Ive seen, and been through just about everything and I dont shock easily.