June is such a wonderful month, full of celebration of children, family, and rites of passage. Baby and bridal showers, weddings, graduations, and honoring our fathers are all special ways to ring in summer. It can also be a time of sadness for families who grieve loved ones who won't get the chance to experience these milestones and a time of reflection for those whose parents are no longer alive.
My father died in 1997, six months prior to our wedding. Steve's dad died in 2006, soon after we had purchased a home, ready to start a family. My dad had been ill, but his death was not expected. On the morning of his death, I was standing in front of the Washington Hilton on Connecticut Avenue (where my dad's band had played multiple times), waiting for my sister and brother-in-law to pick me up because we had received that infamous telephone call to come home. I remember standing there, in those moments of intital loss, shocked and devastated, but also sad for my dad because of the milestones he was going to miss. He died 3 days shy of his 67th birthday.
It was June, 2006 and Steve and I were doing chores in our new house in Wakefield, MA and the phone rang in that way you know it's not going to be good. Instinct is such a powerful thing. Steve's dad died suddenly; there was comfort in that he had been doing what he loved at his home on Lake Erie. He was enjoying the day, went inside for a rest and an aneurysm took him quickly. There we were again, just about 10 years after my dad's death, feeling sad that Steve's dad wouldn't be around to see us start the next chapter of our lives. Honestly, I felt ripped off. I was angry and at times, am still angry that our fathers are gone and our children never got to meet them. Our kids should've had grandfathers, damnit!
Gin's Parents and Steve
Garland Clement Bounds and Edward Bert Schaffer. Our fathers.
Steve's Dad and Gin
Without a doubt, having children makes us miss their fatherly presence that much more. My dad's famous line was, "I'm trying to teach you something." when of course, I didn't want to listen. I am very much my father's daughter and I can see how I try, even if it's a complete failure, to teach my kids. But, that doesn't mean that I stop trying, especially with the important stuff like my father's Air Force core values, "Integrity First, Service before self, and Excellence in all we do." I know that if my dad was still here, he would take my children to every single possible historical site, veteran memorial, and military base he could. So, we do and we do it to honor him.
Steve's dad was so skilled at building, fixing homes, cars, really anything I think - he built the house Steve grew up in; it's great that our kids have watched their dad do some serious renovation work to their own home. More importantly, the kids sometimes want to understand how something like plumbing works and I know if Ed were here, he would revel in teaching them important life, do-it-yourself, trade skills. Ed absolutely loved the outdoors - he loved planning trips to come visit us around visiting different state parks. We've made a fun tradition of going to Bass Pro Shops a couple times each year because it just makes us feel closer to him. It was really important to us to do a recent RV/camping trip for spring break so that the kids could get a sense of what it was like for their father growing up, spending time on the campground, hiking, fishing, etc. By the way, the Bass Pro Shop in Memphis is quite something; check it out!
We have an exciting weekend ahead of us. School's out and the summer can officially begin! I hope you celebrate fathers with all the love and laughter you can handle! And for those dads that are with you in spirit, I hope the memories shared bring you joy always.