Arranging the Pieces… Remembering those we miss on Father’s Day

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By Tabitha Bozeman

Father’s Day this year was a day full of fun and family, making new memories and remembering those who are gone or far away. It was a day for celebrating my husband in his role as “Daddy,” and for letting our own fathers know they are loved. Most of all, it was a wonderful excuse to cook too much food, let our kids and cousins run wild, hang out with grown children and enjoy having family around. We ate leftovers for a solid two days, and I swear they got tastier each time.

It was also a day, like every holiday, for noticing those who were missing, either due to distance, choice or because they are no longer with us. Even though it was a beautiful day of family fun and too much pasta, the day held bittersweet moments when siblings, grandparents and parents who weren’t present came to mind. During those moments that punctuated the loud, fun and hug-filled ones, I allowed myself to feel all the emotions and reminded myself to feel the gratitude for having memories and love for those I miss more than they will ever know.

Watching my father-in-law hugging on my girls reminded me of my grandfather and the time I spent with him. We made many precious memories hunting for fossils, picking blackberry, hiding under the counter or being in the back storage room at his pharmacy when I was a little girl. I later watched him care for his orchids and work on his newest project at his workbench. Still later, I recall him standing in the hallway with my sister as he gave our babies rides on his electric scooter, laughing as they squealed in excitement.

I was reminded of the rides my Daddy gave me as a little girl – on the back of a motorcycle around the army base where we lived in New Mexico, in the back of the old bread truck he’d converted into a delivery truck, in the front seat of his car as we rode through the dark to Birmingham to pick up the day’s newspapers and riding home under pastel sunrises, a hot Krispy Kreme donut in hand.

Later, Daddy would give me other rides that were just as important – to the grocery store a few miles from my dorm when I was in college, home from Georgia after an emergency and taking me to pick up my own baby. On Father’s Day this year, he was still off on the ride of his life, traveling and chasing the best weather. We all look forward to when he rides back into town for a visit.

I miss him and Grandaddy and all the family who for one reason or another weren’t with us last Sunday. In between the squeals from cousins chasing one another around, laughter and conversation with the adults, many memories played through my mind. I was struck by the intricate details that often accompany these images. They made me look more closely at the moment I was in so I could commit to memory the joy of those moments – the little baby arms of my nephew around my neck, the pride in accomplishment on the faces of the girls and their cousins as they showed us all new choreography, the closeness of my sister as we watched and listened and talked about our week and plans for the future.

I was proud of the parents my siblings and siblings-in-law are, of the Daddy my husband is, and I missed all those not with us that day. It reminded me of a quote from Samuel Johnson: “The true art of memory is the art of attention.”

I once again felt gratitude for the moments and the joy of the memories that attention gifted me – even as I miss those who were absent.

May you each have the joy of memory, the gift of paying attention and the hope of the future in the wake of this Father’s Day.

Tabitha Bozeman teaches English at Gadsden State Community College, where she is the editor-in-chief of the Cardinal Arts Journal. The opinions expressed are her own. She may be reached at tabithabozeman@gmail.com.

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