In the year leading up to our move away from Victoria, I had a hard time letting go. This difficulty manifested in my absolute inability to pack up our house. I made a detailed plan of every room, every cupboard I needed to sort and pack, but weeks flowed into months, and I made no progress.
It wasn’t like I didn’t have time to prepare: We planned our move for four years. During those years, I was too busy with school and establishing my editing business to give much thought to what it would be like to move 800 miles from my family.
It was hardest to leave my dad.
To say I loved my father deeply is to gloss over fifty years of complicated relationship. Relationship built on adoration.
Finally, always, such deep love.
My father had gifted hands. They could build anything, fix anything, make anything right. All my life I relied on those hands. Struggled to live up to them. Cursed my own for being clumsy, inept, and small.
A wise teacher once pointed out to me that I’ve engaged in a lifelong journey to learn to be my own “good daddy” – that’s how she put it, and I like her choice of words.
In the Motherpeace tarot (Vicki Noble & Karen Vogel, 1982), which I’ve used for 20 years to access my intuition and increase my self-understanding, the “good daddy” is the Shaman of Wands. Noble says this shaman represents the matriarchal traditions. He respects women and the feminine principle, yet by virtue of his sex and abilities, has acquired personal power in the world. The Shaman of Wands is confident and optimistic. He has what it takes to accomplish long-term goals and handle extremely complex situations.
Over time, my hands grew stronger, and they learned to do many things. Certainly not everything my father’s could do, but other things. Valuable things. More importantly, I learned I could rely on myself and my own abilities and resourcefulness.
A few months before LW and I moved north to our farm, we played cards with our family around the dining room table. Sitting next to my father, our hands on the table, I noticed for the first time in my life that my hands were smaller versions of his.
Six months after LW and I moved away, Dad was diagnosed with lung cancer. Despite chemo and radiation treatments, the cancer metastasized to bone. Two days after Father’s Day, 2008, he died.
In the six years since, as in all the years before, I continue to learn to be my own good daddy. I know I have the hands for the job.
Even so, Dad, I miss you like crazy.