Fathering Continued Beyond the Grave

Robin Botie of Ithaca, New York, photoshops an old photo of her father who is still fathering from beyond the grave

Father’s Day when your father is no longer around can be a time of bewilderment. Especially when it seems your father continues fathering from beyond the grave. Although my dad has been dead for eight years, I can still hear his words. Sometimes he is encouraging. Proud of me. Other times his words are filled with doubt and directives.

My father’s ghost shows up every time I spend more than the cost of a meal in a good restaurant. He says, You don’t need this; spend your money on something worthwhile. Dad makes me feel like mopping the floor with my tongue when I’ve spent money on something that doesn’t work out, like the Roto Rooter guy who charged me the $175 minimum service fee and then left without fixing the garage drain problem.

Dad sneers, This is the way you balance your checking account? and I shrink. He tells me, Never lend money to family. Be good to your sisters. Be generous to your friends. Spoil your dog; that’s your best friend. You don’t need a husband.

When I race home from Wegmans, throw bags of groceries in the fridge, wolf down dinner, and drag the dog for a quick potty before dashing off to some event across town and, in the scurry, misplace the car keys… Dad says, This is a hell of a way to live.

When I burn dinner, he suggests, Okay, now we go out to a nice restaurant. He chuckles at me dancing with the dog to John Philip Sousa’s marching band music, and persuades me to play every army bugle call I can find online.

Dad points out the honeysuckle that needs trimming, and the tiny dings in the car’s fender that should be painted before rust sets in. And the raccoon that lives under my deck, named Oscar after the squirrel Dad used to feed on his porch – sometimes I think the ‘coon is my father reincarnated, now overseeing my weed-whacking.

From the other side, from beyond the great divide, from wherever he is or is not on Father’s Day, I can hear my father louder than usual. His words comfort me like old familiar songs even though they mostly remind me I’ve been careless or done something stupid. Most of the time he has a valid point.

What voices do you hear from your father? What does Fathers Day mean to you?

 

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2 thoughts on “Fathering Continued Beyond the Grave

  1. Elaine Mansfield

    Ah, those male voices within. Mine are benevolent–and I’m grateful. The driven and self-critical voice is my mother’s voice, like it was in life. I’m trying to get that inner mom to stop name-calling every time I don’t get something accomplished or any time I fall behind schedule which is often these days. She had a sweeter side. I’m trying to hear that, too, but it’s faint. Thanks for looking at it straight on, Robin.

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