Even hearing this as a young child, there is one quote that my dad spoke of that sticks in my mind today “Your Grandpa Gulliford would have loved you”. My dad always spoke fond of my grandfather, who had passed away when my dad was a young boy. Although I was young, on some level, I understood that there was a void created, for me and my dad, by my grandfathers death. My dad talked of my grandfather with such love, telling us how much my grandfather loved children. It was easy to see the sadness in my dad’s eyes, the sadness that he felt from losing his father but as a child it isn’t something you can really compute. The only thing I did understand was that I missed out on meeting a man who would have loved me.
My dad and Grandpa Gulliford. 1959.
In August of 1992, I firsthand learned the same loss and pain that my dad felt, my dad passed away. I can’t even began to describe the feeling of emptiness that begun the day he died and I also did not understand the full ramifications that his passing would have. Two weeks after he died I started Junior High and 6 months later, my mother moved my sister and I 80 miles north to a culturally shocking rural community; my emptiness continued. As a teenager, I would convince myself that my dad was still alive, that it hadn’t really been him in that casket.
A happier time with my dad, little brother, and my older sister.
It was at my high commencement ceremony at the age of 17, that I took the first step to accepting he was really gone. I looked around my high school gym, scanning the crown; no dad, no angels… he was just gone. It did not get easier when it was time to get married; my father would not be there to give me away, no daddy-daughter dance and when I got divorced I felt as though I was robbed of having the protection of my father. They are just feelings that you can not ignore and you can not sugar coat.
When I had my children, I started to gain an understanding; there my dad was, in little bits and pieces, he was truly still alive. Of course, he will never have the opportunity to hold them and they will never know his face but my dad does live on. I tell the kids stories of my dad; of how he made up funny songs, of how he loved to hunt and fish, and how no matter how much he struggled I always knew he that loved me.
I can imagine my dad being so blown away with the natural talent and intelligence that Genevieve possesses. I can see my dad cracking up in laughter at the constant comedy and humor that comes from Audra. I know that my dad and Liam would leave me in constant fear every time he would take Liam out to hunt. I think of these things and I smile because I know “Dad, you would have loved your grandkids”.