I remember. I forget. It changes, every day it changes.
I remember so much from those last twenty-four hours with my Dad, yet so little. I remember the night before his passing, him sitting at his desk downstairs with Sadie on his lap. He was preparing for his meeting with the buyers of the plane in the morning. I was helping him clean. I was off in my own world vacuuming away and Dad starting talking to Sadie “look how good my Jenny is at cleaning those carpets. She puts the perfect lines in just like her Mom”. I was proud. My Dad always made me feel proud of myself, even if it was just for putting vacuum lines in the carpet. I remember him coming into the room in the basement and complaining about the lighting, the house was new and he was unimpressed with the sparse lighting in the bedrooms downstairs. I remember him heading out for dinner that night, jealous I couldn’t come along. One of my favourite things to do with my Dad was to go out and eat, I always enjoyed his company over a big piece of steak.
The next morning, the morning of his death, I remember the conversations we had. I remember standing around upstairs and chatting with the guys about dating a Saskatchewan boy. I can still hear the compliments my Dad was giving about me to the other men. Again, proud. I remember him looking for a sheet, talking to my Mom on the phone from the office upstairs. I remember wearing my “gangster-ish” t-shirt and my black cropped sweats. I cannot remember what he was wearing but I do know it was not the same thing that he died in. It bothers me I don’t remember this. I remember his jacket left hanging on the kitchen table. The same jacket I smelled immediately when I walked through the door of our home after learning he was killed. Through all the shock, my brain still allowed me the consciousness to smell him in order for the pain to ease. I wanted to know exactly what he smelt like that morning,
I wanted I want, to remember what he was wearing.
I left that morning to head to Saskatchewan. I had driven that drive many times in my life, but each time, about three hours in, I always felt like I was lost. I would phone my Dad every time “Dad, I think Im lost”, his response was always the same “Jenelle, you are not”. I said my goodbyes to the men that morning, I told my Dad I loved him and I would see him in a few days. I walked out to my car, got inside and thought I should grab a map cause I knew my Dad would be busy that afternoon and I didn’t want to bother him by calling. I headed back in the house and opened the door “hey Dad, do you mind if I take your map”? He laughed, “sure you can take my map, you’re going to need it” with another chuckle. Those were the last words my Dad said to me.
Looking back, seventeen long months later, he was right, I needed his map. I needed HIS map. There are times I am lost and I talk to my Dad (who clearly isn’t there) and I say “Dad, I think I am lost” and although he cant respond I know if he could he would say “Jen, you are not”. When those pretend conversations arise in my mind, I remember my Dad left me a map. He left me a map of Jesus, a map of navigating through pain, a map of being a good person, a map of loving deeply and not selling myself short with anger, useless questions, and bitterness. He left me a map of succeeding regardless of the circumstances, a map of being the best me I can be, a map of deep family connection, a map of good choices, a map of pride in who I am.
For each time my mind tricks me into feeling lost, my Dad reminds me I am not…he even gave me a map to prove it.