I’ve tried not to let the death of my father to COVID-19 a year ago change my life too much. I still have to be a husband, a dad, a colleague and a friend but the weight of what happened makes my shoulders stiff and sore. These past few months have been especially difficult. My motivation has been pretty much nowhere to be seen. My patience has been almost nothing.
In a way, I haven’t completely processed everything that happened during those two weeks in December 2020. As a nation and world, we were fighting through a pandemic that was — and still is — killing so many people. The virus doesn’t care whether you are healthy or not let alone the demographics that we identify with. We’ve continued to fight it since the passing of my father, and I take every day to try and make people aware of the gravity that is COVID.
In the weeks and months leading up to the month of my father’s passing, I am on the record for saying, “I wear a mask because I don’t want to be the reason I pass this onto your family members, who then pass it to someone who loses a loved one because of it.” I don’t hold any ill feelings toward whomever it was who passed COVID on to my dad. I’m frustrated that there are those who made a choice to not listen to my concerns or those of the people who are studying the virus and how it affects people.
I thought parenting when I had depression was difficult, but it had nothing on trying to be a dad while grieving the death of my own father. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of him and my eyes get a little watery. Each day I step foot into our garage I’m reminded of him. We bought his brand new 2020 Toyota Highlander from his estate. He was so proud of that car and he had some big plans to travel in it and see the world. It’s one of the things that we plan to do to honor him.
It hasn’t been easy handling my father’s estate either. There are days it’s a full-time job fielding phone calls and signing paperwork. And then there is all of his … stuff. He was the type of person who never would let a piece of paper go. He had checks and bank records dating all the way back to the early 1970s.
My son, Joseph, has asked me several times as we go through my father’s things, “Dad, what are you doing?” Many times, when I explain that I’m going through grandpa’s belongings his response is, “Oh … grandpa died.” It tends to make things worse for me internally. Not only is going through box after box a reminder enough of what happened, but then my youngest reminds me on almost a daily basis.
The where, the how, the crazy that happened during his two-week struggle with COVID-19 no longer matter at this point. What matters to me is I am here for my family. Where I am now, is that I want to show my boys how great their grandfather was. I want them to know how lucky they were to have him. I want them to know that it’s OK to miss him and we need to continue to live out his legacy.
Parenting through all of this has not been the easiest. I admit my temper spikes at times … and does so rather quickly. I am having a harder time leaving work at the office because it serves as a distraction. When I have a bad day at work, my family can typically tell as I’m more prone to yelling and being generally grumpy with them about some of the littlest things. This happens mostly on the days I’m having a hard time internally working through the death of my father. There are periods of time when I zone out and think about the memories I shared with my dad. And then there are times that I break down in tears for no reason at all. Then there are all the nightmares one has living through the moments that lead up to and after a traumatic event in their life.
It’s hard for us as men to admit that we are going through a rough time. But when it comes to parenting through the loss of a loved one, it is important to let your kids see you grieve. They need to be able to see that it is OK to be sad and upset. It is just as important for them to see you push through and celebrate the person.
I’m not guaranteeing that it will be any easier moving forward but when I look back at the man that my father was, I strive to be half the man he was. That’s what I want my kids to see.