Friday, December 3, 2010

30 Days of Thanks—Day #9

I am grateful for my dad. He is here this weekend for the umpteenth time helping us do repairs and improvements around the house (among the many, many other things he’s done for us at this house and our rental houses at home, he helped Ed paint Hudson’s nursery when I was pregnant and couldn’t paint). When Hudson was alive, he came up on numerous occasions to watch her so that we could attend some special event, most recently last January, when we spent our first (and ultimately, our only) night away from Hudson to go to a spa for my birthday.

But on top of all the practical help he gives us, he’s trying, as a 67-year-old guy, to change some things about himself. Men in my dad’s generation were not raised to discuss their feelings. My dad was no different. He and my mom spent 30 years largely talking past each other, in part because all my mom wanted to do was talk about her feelings (of which she had a lot, and many of them were dark, complicated, and very difficult to understand, even for herself) and my dad just didn’t really know how to deal with that (really, none of us did).

Recently, I noticed that my dad never seemed to talk about Hudson when he was around me. Sometimes it felt like he was purposely trying to avoid talking about her, even when I was crying in his presence, which I didn’t understand, because I knew that her death had deeply affected him—I knew that he was suffering a lot, too. So I decided to talk to him about it. He told me that he worried about how upset I already was all the time and he didn’t want to make it worse by talking about her to me (I imagine this was not the only reason, but I understood what he meant). I told him that it’s good for us to talk about her, that I don’t always cry when I talk about her or think about her, and that even if I do cry, that’s OK, too. I told him it it’s way worse when it felt like we just try to pretend like she never existed.

And so he changed. Now he talks about Hudson freely with me and with the rest of our family. He spends time in her room when he comes to visit. He tells me when he’s been feeling sad. We cry together sometimes.  And what a difference it has made for me.
It’s not easy for a 67-year-old man to change his ways, particularly not his emotional ways. I’m grateful that mine is working on it. I’m grateful for him. (And I really hope he’s not embarrassed by this post.)

I love you, Dad.


  1. Mandy, your Dad sounds like a wonderful guy. My father is six years younger than yours but we never talked about feelings either. Just in the last few years, my Dad and I started to discuss our emotions about things that happened earlier in life with my Mom, who just like yours, has a lot of dark and difficult feelings to deal with.

    Since my husband and I live so far away from my parents, we live in Asia my folks live in Germany and the US respectively, I am sad about all the moments I am missing with them. Time is running so fast...

    I am happy for you that your Dad is so active in your life, enjoy the time with him.


  2. Your dad sounds wonderful. I'm so glad you are surrounded by such loving, supportive family and friends. As someone who still takes comfort from a bear hug from my dad, I smiled to think that he loves you so much that he was inspired to change so that he can be a better father to you in your grief. That is powerful.

  3. So happy you have such a wonderful dad. I miss mine all the time (15 years later!) and cherish the years I had with him.

  4. Your father sounds like a wonderful man. His efforts to change are a beautiful testament of his love for you. I am glad that you have him with you.

    I am also glad that you chose today to talk about gratitude for your father. Today is my father's birthday. He would be 88 if he were still alive. He died 6 years ago and I miss him often. However, your post didn't make me miss him more, it made me remember how much I loved him and how much I always knew he loved me. Thank you.

  5. Mandy this is a precious post. Along with not asking for help men of our fathers generations were probably not around showing open emotion. What a gift to be able to sit with your father and grieve your daughter...his granddaughter. Thank you for sharing this tonight.

  6. I think this is a beautiful post. The first thing I thought of when I read it was that this is another good thing that Hudson's wonderful life was able to create--she is helping your dad to open up and understand himself better. Maybe you don't see it that way, but that's what struck me. He sounds like a wonderful man. Hugs from Chapel Hill. We are thinking of you here.

  7. Mandy,
    Give your dad five "AttaBoys" from me. Best I can do, until I can buy him the beverage of his choice. And tell him too, from another father of girls, that I know there's nothing more precious to a dad then holding and comforting his baby girl when she's crying. He'll understand. So will Ed.

  8. Hudson, still working hard at changing the world. :)