I’m having a lazy day at home, enjoying the fact that I can get up late and do nothing. It’s days like this that I have time to think, ponder about my life.
As I look outside through my patio doors, I see the bright blue skies of Andalucía. Even in the midst of winter, the hue is intense, almost blinding, and there are no clouds in the sky. I enjoyed similar days like this with my father in Florida …
I look up at his picture, at his sweet, precious smile and that peculiar glint in his eyes, and I find it so very hard to believe he’s gone. He’s only a memory now …
In the time we spent together – just the two of us alone – we shared stories, sometimes talked for hours (mostly philosophical and political discussions), we reminisced about my mom, watched National Geographic, history shows, and movies together, giggled together at Kiko‘s antics (Kiko is our mini schnauzer), and ate all of our dinners together. He repeated almost daily that he loved what I made and I cooked just like Mom. On occasion, I was almost embarrassed to hear my Dad repeatedly say how much he liked a dish. But I know he was grateful for sharing it with me. And it must have brought him closer to Mom as well.
Mom passed away in what will be two years in March. Dad was lonely and depressed (as I was too). He missed the love of his life tremendously. But he was making ’emotional ends’ meet…and having me with him probably kept him going. I know I wouldn’t have been able to get through these last two years without him either. And I’m glad I told him that many times. I’m glad I told him how much I loved him almost on a daily basis. I’m so glad I gave him kisses every morning and hugged him every day.
I spent over the last two years – most of the time it was just the two of us – living with him and getting to know him in ways I had never realised before. Dad was an honourable man, a sweet, humble, intelligent person whose moral compass was geared by a deep respect for the fellow person and a deep love for his family. He never raised his voice to any of us, until one day – and one time only – after my mother’s death, when all of our emotions had us at the tip of our wits.
He was the most honest and trustworthy person I have ever known. He detested lies. He always said it was better to tell the truth, even if that got me in trouble, than to lie about something. That’s why for months after I eloped with my ex-husband, I felt miserable for hiding the truth from my parents…
He didn’t like to share his emotions though; yet contrastingly he couldn’t hide his dislike of things. He got very upset at the injustices of the world and was more empathetic than I ever gave him credit for. He was considerate and a kind-hearted man. He would frequently tell me not to criticize others, to see the positive side of things, and measure more by the good than the bad. The irony of it is that that’s how I am because of him and my mother’s teachings. But I felt comfortable enough to share all my thoughts with my mother always. She had never judged me. And although my father also didn’t judge me, he took all my words to heart literally; and he misunderstood my venting as something more serious. Because he was a very serious and literal person.
But he could also be funny and witty and even sarcastic at times. And he had a lovely, incredibly sweet smile and an infectious laugh. His whole face and his eyes would light up with glee when he smiled. He was genuine, yet oftentimes misunderstood by others who didn’t know him well enough and took his seriousness on face value.
Dad taught me to not only appreciate, but fall in love with classical music. Our favourites are Johann Strauss father and son. The Blue Danube, the Tritsch-Tratsch-Polka, and the Radetzky March will forever remind me of Dad; and as every year for many years now, I have entered the Vienna Philharmonic lottery in the hopes of getting admitted into the New Year’s concert in person. The concert was part of our new year’s day routine since I can remember when we first started watching it together when I was a little child in Spain; and his dream was to enjoy it in person with my Mom. I hope one day I can sit in the Vienna Concert Hall and clap to the tune of the Radetzky March just as we used to do together while watching it on T.V. I’m sure tears will be rolling down my cheeks as they are now, but it will be incredibly exhilarating to do this in his memory. To do it for him. And to do it for us.
Dad was also an extremely private person … he probably would be slightly uncomfortable that I’m writing a post about him. And in all honesty, I have written, rewritten, and deleted numerous posts about him.
Since he died on November 12th, just 11 days short from his 78th birthday, I’ve been once more lost. I’ve been on a rollercoaster of emotions; just as I was beginning to heal – accept is probably more accurate actually – from the loss of my mother, I now have to face the second greatest loss in my life. And this time, I’m home alone. I don’t have Dad to comfort me because he’s the one who is gone.
I don’t even have Kiko by my side. Kiko is staying with my brother, sister-in-law, and my two lovely nieces. They all love him very much and can offer him more company than I can right now. So to be fair to him, I cannot selfishly bring him with me to Spain. Little does he realise just how much I need him though, and need our daily walks, and miss his funny, quirky ways … but he’s better off with them.
And Dad I’m sure is smiling upon all of us knowing how much we all love his little guy. There’s an immense emptiness in my heart, in my every day – I can no longer wake up to a message from Dad or send Dad a message in the morning or talk with him every night – I can no longer share with him how our days went or discuss just how much of a cultural shock I’m having returning home to Spain … it’s the strangest feeling being an orphan.
Nonetheless, I’m grateful for my brother and his family. And I’m grateful for my uncle Manolo, who is like an extension of both my parents. We wouldn’t love each other as we do, if it weren’t for the amazing parents we have had. Dad and Mom, each in their own way, made us who we are.
There’s one more thing I want to share about Dad. He was an avid supporter and reader of my blog and of everything that I do. He was incredibly proud of me; and I owe it to him to continue writing and pursuing my dreams. Thus, I won’t delete this post. This time, like Mortmain, I am going to capture the castle since I’ve been a long time searching for it.
Dad, I love you with all my heart. And I will forever miss you and will always be thankful and proud to be your daughter.
Dennis Gilbert Dorn
November 23, 1932 – November 12, 2016