Yesterday was my Dad's birthday. I suspected that the date was going to feel bittersweet, but the strength of my emotions took me off guard. Every year I would call him to wish him a Happy Birthday. He might or might not have answered the phone, depending upon what he was doing. He might or might not have called me back after I left a cheerful message singing Happy Birthday. It isn't as if his birthday was a grand event, but yet I found myself missing him terribly.
A few days before his birthday I received an email which contained a tribute video that was played at a conference my Dad organized. I knew that watching the video would be difficult, but I was unprepared for the Pandora box of emotions that opened as I watched the tribute.
The man featured on the video, although he looked and spoke like my father, was not the dad that I knew. He gave the very best of himself to his profession, and to his family with Jeanette. I had glimpses at the man featured in the video, but my dad was a different person with me. His passion and priorities were his work, not his children. In a way it saddened me watching the retrospective of his professional life because I would have loved to have known the man featured.
The video, coupled with his birthday, made for an emotionally wrought weekend. I am sure that the grief, and my attempt to reconcile our relationship, will continue to ebb and flow throughout the coming months. In the meantime, I'm going to just try to push the conflicting emotions to the side and concentrate on my kids and family. I'm sure that psychologists would disagree, but in this situation I will rely upon my go-to coping mechanism, avoidance.