Today marks 9 years since the day my dad passed away. He died from heart complications having to do with his weight, when I was 14. I always miss him most in November, both because of this day, and because Thanksgiving was his absolute favorite holiday.
I’m always a bit sad that my dad never got to meet my kids. He would have been a great grandfather (or Papa, as he wanted to be called), and I know my babies would have made him laugh like no other. I wish he was here to see them, and play with them, and I wish they could meet him. But alas, such wishing doesn’t accomplish much.
My heart is sad today, but I always want to take the time to remember his life with joy, instead of tears. On these days, I’m not usually the type to sit around and have a long cry. Don’t get my wrong, I’m definitely a cry-er, especially after many years of my childhood best friend engraining in my head “crying is not weakness, it’s strength“, I have no choice BUT to have a good cry when I need one…but that’s not always what I need. Instead, I try to honor my dad in different ways.
Today, my kids and I are bringing flowers to his grave. I’m sure they don’t know what’s going on today, but one day they will.
Another way we honor my dad every year is to buy a new board game. He loved playing games with us, and truly my happiest memories of my childhood involve either board games or video games (N64/super nintendo). We loved competing against each other, and we had a huge board game collection. Since these are my fondest memories, we have chosen this way to honor him each year. My husband spends hours online choosing the perfect new game, and buying it for us each November. Then we play it for the first time on the 18th, after the kids are in bed.
I look forward to sharing this tradition with my kids when they are old enough to play board games. My dad may not be here to play with us, but he did instill in me the love of friendly competition, and showed me how much family bonding could take place across the table in the midst of a game. He loved to play, and I remember those days with fondness. I want to pass on this tradition to my kids, and take this time to show my family that I care about them. He taught me how important these things are, both in his strengths as a father and in his weaknesses.
So every year, we honor him. And we play a game. Such a simple thing, but a beautiful way to remember his life, while building our family relationships here, in his memory. My kids may never get to meet my dad in person, but I hope they still learn something from his life. To enjoy it, to love it, and to focus on the important things in life.
He wasn’t the perfect dad, but I still learned a lot from him. And I’m happy to honor his memory each year with our tradition.