Oh my papa
My dad passed away when I was 3 years old. The memories of him are ingrained in me because of the stories I've heard about him. I couldn’t possibly have actual memories of him considering I was so very young. Dad had a heart condition that was brought on from having Rheumatic Fever as a child. He was frail and restricted from strenuous activities.
One of my favorite stories that I was told often from many family members was how he always carried me around on his shoulders. I had heard it so often that I began to see the image in front of me vividly. No matter where we went, it was me on top of pop, my curly unruly brown ringlets bouncing into my meatball-sized eyes, with that funny lipless smile I had had (that is before the self-conscious teenage me practiced like crazy to change it.) I see my Dads Kramer-like wild curly hair acting as a nice nest for my tiny baby hands. I see his secure hands locked protectively around my gauzy dress and rounded back. I see his gentle smiling eyes and matching lipless smile looking up at me. (Those same soft expressive hazel eyes it chills and thrills me to see on my eldest son.) I also see my frazzled, boisterous mother who, I was told, worried that I was too heavy for her sick husband to carry, she would constantly yell at him “put her Down!!” As a parent now myself, I sure understand why he didn't listen to her. If you know you aren't going to be with your kids for too much longer, I’d think you take your chances and hang on tight while you can. I imagine him just laughing and saying to her “Oh stop yelling, I’m fine! Look how happy she is”
The weird thing about losing a parent at such a young age is that it seems the grieving process may be opposite of the same loss as an adult. As an adult the pain is present for a very long time but it fades the longer time has passed. All the years of happy memories seem to comfort my friends who’ve experienced this sadness. The opposite is what I've been experiencing. Of course at 3 years old I had no clue of what was happening to my family, to my world. As I grew, there were times I felt curious and times I felt ashamed about not having a dad. During my teen years, I thought often of him and wanted to hear all the stories and "get to know" him. As a young woman planning my wedding I wept for him, for all he had missed. Wept Knowing that he wouldn't walk me down the aisle. He wouldn't know the woman I had become or the wonderful man I was planning on spending my life with. Later I grieved for him not knowing his three amazing grandsons. Heart-broken that they lost out too.
Now, 52 years after Dad has passed, I still get choked up as I am right now trying to write this. It may happen while taking a walk or just hearing a touching song. Just thinking of my Dad always leads me to those awful ‘if only’s “ If only he hadn’t been sick, if only he hadn’t left his 3 forgotten children. If only.
Last night I awoke from a heavenly dream and for a sleepy second or two I thought I actually did truly remember it all, just as I have imagined it for all of these years. Little me, in my first happy place, sitting weightless and carefree, smiling brightly while being carried off into an idyllic childhood. Cradled on my beloved Dads loving shoulders.
My story was Originally title Oh Pabbi Minn. It's the Icelandic version of Oh my papa by bjork. It brings me to tears every time I hear her beautiful voice sing it. My class felt I should have talked about the title somewhere in the story. I felt it took away from my story. So I decided instead to use the english title here. I'm not going to listen to you either!! but am interested to know...what do you think?