Dear Old Dad

by Olivia Petras about a year ago in grief

A Letter to the Most Important and Indestructible Man in My Life

Dear Old Dad

You gave me quite the scare, there. It’s not your fault, I know. I wasn’t expecting it- and that’s the real issue, I guess. Nobody ever is- or maybe they are, but are we ever truly prepared for the bad news? That trembling voice on the other end of the line, that shocking conversation that leaves you speechless? I don’t think we are. I’m certainly not. I remember when you called me and told me grandpa had passed. It made me hate my phone, made me not want to touch it. This was a close second. I now look at it with trepidation.

You’ve always been indestructible to me.

  • The man that didn’t shed a tear when we had to put down a beloved barn animal...
  • The man that stood behind me on the bench for years, opening the door with a deadly accuracy, not losing your temper once (OK maybe once, but that referee was atrocious)...
  • The man who left the house at 5 AM and returned at 7 PM, day after day, and complained not once...
  • The man who smashed his kneecap to pieces and shed not one tear...
  • The man who lifted an aluminum canoe atop his head and trekked onwards, all while three screaming children or grumpy adolescents slogged behind him...
  • The man who dealt with terrifying family emergencies with the most stoic of demeanor...
  • The man who has listened to my panicked phone calls and answered my long winded text messages more times than I can count...
  • The man who lost his father but still managed to comfort me.

That man, I thought him indestructible, untouchable. An Olympian god of sorts, if you will. Until today.

It hit me all at once. Like a ton of bricks, a shot to the heart, a breath stolen. You’re not indestructible. You’re getting old, dear dad, and that scares the shit out of me. I suppose I’ve taken you for granted in a way; I’ve taken our time together for granted. You call me looking to have a lighthearted chat, and I ramble on about my finances or the Wifi that is taking forever to install or the many other things that now seem trivial. You come to visit, and I stress incessantly and burden you with it, because I know you can handle it, and help me through.

But I guess I’m lucky, that I’m having this AHA! moment now. Because you’re not indestructible, but we still have time. Lots of time, in fact, for me to call asking:

“How do I put on this windshield wiper?”

“Wasn’t that gif funny!?”

“Am I ever going to pay off this loan? No seriously, I’ll be 42. How the hell am I going to pay this off?!”

Lots of time, too, for me to make you proud. By putting on that windshield wiper, sure. But more importantly, by being happy, by making good decisions (or making subpar ones, but fixing them); by being independent. By being strong, too. By trying to be as indestructible as my dear old dad.

Olivia Petras
Olivia Petras
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Olivia Petras

I live in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, Canada. I work as a physician assistant and exercise physiologist, but I also developed a love for writing from my time as a homeschooled youth and enjoy writing about my adventures and experiences.

See all posts by Olivia Petras