My Dad was a cookie man. Growing up in our house in Phoenix, he distributed Archway cookies. Later after he moved away, he became a Pepperidge Farm distributor. Although Pepperidge Farm is known for many amazing products, I only remember my Dad selling cookies. Frosty Lemon and Chantilly were my favorites. Everything was loaded with butter and sugar and everything sweet.
My Dad ran his own business out of his cookie truck. When I visited him in the summer, I got to go on the cookie route, but I had to get up at the crack of dawn to beat the Arizona heat. One of my best memories of my Dad is helping him stock shelves, take away the “older” stock, which was still good, and ride around in the truck with him.
Of course, I did not understand it then, but I see it now. My Dad was an entrepreneur. He ran his own company. He worked alone. He called the shots. Did I get my entrepreneurial drive from him? Or, am I just ill-equipped to cope with other people’s view of who and what I should be? Perhaps I am the one who needs to let go of what I think others think of me.
I have spent many years of my life coping using the sweetness of comfort cookies, crackers, and desserts – and this is my jumping-off point for changing it without changing my memories of him.
When you think about your past and how your parents shaped your life, sometimes it is easy to understand. They were there to see you take your first steps and say your first words. They were there to watch you play sports, perform in a recital, graduate high school, and maybe even see you go to college. They were there to see you get married, have your first baby, raise your kids, and possibly spoil them along the way. What I know is that my life is shaped by the absence of most of those things with my father.
When I was 11 years old, my father packed his van and drove away from our house and his family of six kids, two dogs, and my mom. I still remember everything about that house. I remember being late to school, even though it was across the street. I remember dance shows for my parents on the front lawn with my friends. I remember when my little brother got caught in the canal, and my dad had to rescue him. I remember my dad sitting at the kitchen table doing work and drinking Schlitz malt liquor, and the first time he let me taste it. I remember our babysitter making fun of my older brother for trying on my mom’s bathing suit. I remember roller-skating around the pool and acting like a carhop with my best friend.
I will never forget how distressed my mother was when she sat me down to tell me that my dad was not coming back. What I didn’t understand is why?
On November 6, 2016, one day after my 48th birthday, my father passed away in hospice, and I was the only one in the room. What I didn’t understand is why?
I can probably count on both hands the number of times I saw him between that day he left our house, and that day he left this earth in 2016. What I didn’t understand is why?
What I know is that those 35 years without my father shaped my life. And I need to understand why. This Father’s Day, I am dedicating my heart and soul to admitting my struggles without him for all of those years, and my commitment to becoming whole now that he is gone and I can’t repair our relationship on this earth.