Many years have passed since I walked out the door that late March morning without saying good-bye. I wasn’t angry, just in a hurry. You were busy and I reasoned that we would talk that afternoon. How I wished I’d listened to that inner voice that told me to go back in the house. Or the one that kept nagging me all day. “Call your Dad and tell him you love him.”
I even went to the phone several times only to hang up before dialing. Each time I argued with myself. “It’s a beautiful day. Dad will be busy in his garden. He won’t answer the phone.” So I never called.
The end of my workday finally came, but as I drove home, I decided to stop at the bank to see about obtaining a loan for the car I had ordered—a brand new blue Camaro. I recalled the day I came home and told you about it.
“What do you think?” I asked.
“It’s blue.” You smiled when you said it, but I knew the meaning. It wasn’t a Ford, but blue was your favorite color.
When I arrived home, I couldn’t wait to tell you the banker approved my loan.
“Your father is outside,” Mom said.
I ran out the door, but we never got the chance to talk. Only minutes earlier, you were alive.
My father passed away when I was twenty-one years old. His death was sudden and unexpected. He never saw my new car, or met my future husband. He wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle when I married.
I’ve thought about that last day many times and wished I could go back and do things different. If only I’d gone back inside the house. If only I had listened to my instincts and called him. If only…
I take comfort in the fact he knew my love for him. Or be thankful for the last family dinner we had together. There were no harsh words—my parents, brother, and I sat together at the table, laughing and joking with one another.
It occurred to me recently that I’ve lived the majority of my life without my father. Although I’m not a psychologist, I begin to question the reasons behind some of the stories I write.
In my novella, The Stranger, the protagonist Julie grows up not knowing her father. Her quest to learn more about him and his family is a source of strife between her and her narcissistic mother. It isn’t until Julie has adult children of her own that she decides to do some genealogy research—with surprising results.
Stephanie Harris is the protagonist in my upcoming novel Unseen Motives. After the death of her great aunt, Stephanie returns to her hometown of Driscoll Lake for the first time in twenty years. Her visit stirs up pent-up emotions she carried since her father’s suicide. To make matters worse, he was the prime suspect in the murder of the mother of one of Stephanie’s best friends.
I didn’t plan to write two books so close together in which the protagonist grew up without a father. However, in order for the story lines to work, there couldn’t be another way.
If you haven’t read The Stranger, you can obtain a free copy by subscribing to my mailing list. You’ll hear more about Stephanie and Unseen Motives in future posts. I plan to publish the novel in late summer.
To be clear, my father died of natural causes. My mother was kind and loving—not self-absorbed like my character Julie’s mom. I’m grateful for the years we had together. Someday I’ll write a story where the protagonist’s father is alive and well! But until then…