The day my father died, I felt like my outer layer of skin had been peeled off. Not in the physical pain sort of way, but in the fearful I-no-longer-have-anything-protecting-me sort of way. The epidermis that kept me safe in the world was no longer present to do the job.
No more was I “Daddy’s Little Girl,” the phrase he always used to refer to me. There was no more daddy to run to when the car broke down, the bank account ran dry or things went bump in the night.
This feeling of abandonment was a surprise to me. While I loved my dad and know that he loved me, understanding which came only after having a child of my own, we were not close. Not close that is until some 10 years after he passed from this world, when he paid me a much-needed “visit.”
I was alone mid-day on the third floor of my house folding laundry when out of the blue a strong scent of cologne came wafting past my noise on a gentle breeze. I am very sensitive to smells and strong scents tend to give me a violent headache, but this one didn’t intrude, rather it captured my attention with it’s quite, yet urgent entrance and it’s familiar scent.
Instantly I lifted a freshly laundered towel to my nose, knowing even as I made the gesture that the smell couldn’t possibly be coming from the laundry. With my aversion to scents, I strictly buy all products fragrance-free. It was really just a reflex, as it hadn’t yet hit me what was happening.
“No, definitely not the towels, not flowers from outside the open window, what could it be?” My thoughts shot by in rapid fire.
“Wait, I know that smell. It’s sooooo familiar, where have I smelled that before and where on earth is it coming from? It smells like a man’s cologne, is there an intruder in the house?”
Continuing to fold, I just couldn’t figure it out. Before I knew it, the scent had faded and I was lost in my mindless task thinking about what to make for dinner and when to pick up my son from school.
I finished my chore, picked up the laundry basket and headed down the three flights of stairs to put away the towels. Reaching the bottom floor I traversed the four-step expanse between the bottom stair and the guest bath doorway and flipped on the light.
Boom! It hit me again and in that instant I knew. I not only identified his Old Spice Cologne, I felt his presence and a wave of love. It was my dad, there in the doorway and even though not in the flesh, very real just the same.
As I drew in a quick breath and began to quietly cry from the overwhelming feeling of love I whispered, “Thank you for coming, I love you, too.” And it was over.
As quickly and mysteriously as he had arrived, he was gone, but with one very important difference. Never again have I felt unprotected or like we had unfinished business. All at once my relationship with my father finally felt complete. No more words left unspoken, no more hurts from words that would have been better left unsaid. Just complete.
Thanks, Dad. On that “Father’s Day” and this official Father’s Day, I celebrate the gift of your presence in my life both while you were here on this earth and even now as our relationship lives on in my mind and heart.