20 years on 1-9
by Rob G
(STL MO 314 )
My father passed away on 1-9-93 when he lost control of his car on an icy I-70. I was 5 years old. I will never forget that night. I was sitting in my little red rocking chair with the graffiti like cloth seat, eating french fries and watching 'Clarissa Explains It All' the first show on Nickelodeon's old "Snick" lineup. There was a knock on the door, and my mother opened it up to see two police officers. Before I knew it, my neighbor came, scooped me up and I finished watching "Snick" with my neighbor friend Jeff, not having a slightest clue as to what was going on.
The next morning, I walked downstairs to see my mother shaking crying on the couch in the arms of our neighbors, the Merjavys. Mr. Merjavy told me what happened. I was confused because I knew Mr. Merjavy was a doctor, and I couldnt understand why he didnt save him. After a little while, I went sledding the rest of the day like nothing happened!!
The saddest part for me is that, being only 5 years old, these are literally my first solid memories of life. I cant for the life of me remember anything between that and say the first day of kindergarten. But those couple days are burned into my mind forever. My only solid memory of my father is him at his own visitation and burial.
I always try and keep things in a positive perspective. But as hard as I try, I can't be like that all the time, and I don't expect to be. Ive heard so many times about how amazing a father, husband, friend and businessman my father was, and when people tell me these things I sometimes get irritated and jealous, asking myself why the hell did you get to know him but not me? Why couldn't i see these things for myself?
Since I couldn't see these things for myself, I have these built up visions in my mind based on what people tell me. These haunt me on some days, days when I don't get the feedback I was expecting on a certain project, days when I oversleep, any experiences of rejection. I feel that I am not living up to the bar he set, a common feeling for sons. But I feel like my case is a little different since I have no idea what the man was like, and that kills me on some days.
January 9th has not always been a tough day the past 20 years. It was when I was at home growing up, throughout high school. In college, I always made a point to call my mom on that day, but like most people during that time in life I had other fun things to do. I also lacked the perspective and understanding I have now.
I'm 25, and I am not saying I have the world figured out, but each year that passes is one year closer to myself becoming a father. Coming to this realization has made the last couple January 9ths tough. It just makes me miss him that much more.
I dont know if I'm feeling down this week because its the 20th anniversary, a milestone I guess you could say, but only because the number of years ends in a 0. Whats made it hard in addition is that I am home from law school on winter break, and I have noticed my mom visually tear up for apparently no reason the last couple days. That always gets me. My mom has been everything for me, obviously growing up with just her. As long as she was around, I knew everything would be ok. But when I see her down or struggling, I get extra nervous or emotional because if the person who I go to with my deepest sadness is sad, who do I go to?
I guess this is just part of becoming a man. But I have lacked the one man to show me the way my entire life.