July 24th


Note: I'll return next week with one of my regular Friday posting topics.

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July 24th. On a summer afternoon thirteen years ago, while on vacation, I received a phone call.

I could not comprehend much of what the old Marine was saying to me, but I understood Dad’s message: His wife was no longer there. Mom had passed away.

July 24th also happened to be Dad’s birthday. He does not recognize July 24th as his entry into this world any longer. It is simply the day when he lost his loving spouse.

So much has changed since then. One constant is my desire not to see my father, the gunny, the grunt, get punched in the stomach like that again.

It is ironic how mothers and fathers spend decades protecting their children from everything and then at some point the roles change--sons and daughters begin shielding their parents.

Insightful blogger Expat recently wrote:
The road ahead seems to be flattening, getting narrow, starting to darken a bit around the edges these days for me. It is times like these that I have to constantly remind and encourage myself of life's little surprises, the ones that you don't see coming...
Recently, a childhood friend that I played sports with for more than a decade sent me two photos of our Little League football team: the Wildcats.

In the background of one of the team photos, several parents are visible. They are seated in the distance and most have their backs to the players.

I noticed one of the women behind the football players was wearing sunglasses and a blue and white striped shirt. She is turned toward the camera and is smiling. Mom.

I emailed the photos to career Marine Dad a few days ago, and told him of the special person in the background of image #1. It is a photo of his wife, smiling, that was previously unknown.

July 24th: A day when my father, the Marine, lost his spouse.

Perhaps through a photo, representing one of life’s little surprises, this day was made less painful for him—-if only for a moment.

14 comments:

angelcel said...

Oh I'm so sorry. I don't think the pain of losing a loved one ever really diminishes I think you just learn to cope with it better. What a cruel twist of fate that this should happen on your Dad's birthday.

I'm sure he will have loved the photo. It's very special to find 'new' images of those we love.

http://namibsands.wordpress.com said...

I couldn't help crying when I finished reading your post. What an awful and deeply saddening thing to lose your beloved partner on your birthday. It forever changes how you feel about the day. My gran, whom I loved very much, died just before midnight on 31 December 2005. It was her style, her way of saying, "I'm not going to start a new year now. I've lived a long and happy life, and it's time for me to go Home." All New Year's eves since then have been tinged by her memory.

Thank you for sharing that. God bless you and your Dad.

The Peach Tart said...

You can never go through the anniversary day of the date you lost a loved one without dwelling on it. What a great gift to get the old photo of your Mom and I'm sure your Dad appreciates you passing it along.

Thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting.

J. J. in Phila said...

My day is the anniversary of my father's heart attack, which was his wedding anniversary.

It left him with severe brain damage.

Meadowlark said...

Your father depicts the true and deeper meaning of Semper Fidelis.

I proudly salute the Gunny, not just for his service to our Corps, but for his steadfast love for your mother.

You are a lucky man to have such role models. Peace to you.

Natalie said...

Thanks for this post and the sweet condolences you left on my blog about my great grandma. Every life ends, but I think it's a bittersweet part of human nature that it affects us the way it does. My sympathies to you and your father.

I didn't know that July 24th held so many reminders! In my neck of the western woods, it's our Pioneer Day to remember ancestors and those that treked west to make a better life. Some of those pioneers were my ancestors, and a few that emigrated from England and used handcarts to come west for a new chance at life survived after burying loved ones along the way. This was over 150 years ago, but their memory through journals and documenting still live on.

I think blogs help us carry the memory as well, don't you think?

Christopher said...

Very moving... that type of love between your dad and mom is what others wish for... thoughts of well wishes to your dad today.

Cindy Beck said...

I'm so sorry to hear that. It's terribly hard to lose a loved one, and the one consolation is that love continues in the next life, and you and your dad will both be reunited with your mom.

But, there are those very difficult moments to get through in the here and now.

mappchik said...

Thank you for sharing the story with us. I'm so glad your old friend sent you the photo. To have an unexpected candid photo - a slice of happiness - to send your father is a a wonderful way of remembering her.

Slamdunk said...

Thanks to all who responded and especially those that shared personal experiences with loved ones--it has made my blogging experience a rich one.

Sandra G. said...

That photo was a true gift - and one I'm sure your father treasures for what it is.

Expat From Hell said...

Well, you knew I had to check this out. Short, to the point, and - as always with you, my friend - riveting. Terrific post.

Best to you.

EFH

imbeingheldhostage said...

I wonder if we ever really get past the emptiness a parent leaves. I lost my dad at age 13. It was sudden and unexpected.
Wishing peace and fond memories to you and your dad tomorrow.

Theresa Milstein said...

I'm sorry your mother passed on your father's birthday. What a stinging reminder for you both.

My cousin's birthday coincides with my grandfather's death, so there's always that bittersweet feeling about the day.