Wednesday, June 24, 2015

You're Gonna Miss Me When I'm Gone: Our New Take on My Dad's Refrain

Trisha Niermeyer Potter ©2015
“Don’t worry, I’ll be gone again soon” is an expression my dad used when we were growing up.  He said it when one of us would show any sort of disapproval or weariness in response to his words or actions.  

He was well-known for his corny jokes, elaborate pranks, and dramatic overtures, few of which we appreciated during certain periods of our lives when most kids find their parents exasperating.  

Dad had an affinity for inserting random fictitious characters and/or destinations into children’s books that my sister and I had long ago memorized word for word.  

Suddenly, he'd have Little Red Riding heading to Burger King or something equally as out-of-character.  My mom, sister, and I have always been book lovers, so we didn't take kindly to this sort of literary torture even at a tender young age. My dad gloated over the sheer pleasure of getting us all riled up.  As is the case with many dads, he excelled at this.    

Back then, he was very likely to be “gone again soon.”  When he was climbing the corporate ladder in pharmaceutical sales, he traveled quite a bit, so there wasn’t usually much layover at home in between business trips.    

“Don’t worry, I’ll be gone again soon” was typically said with a sad countenance.  My dad could resemble a clown.  He could appear happy on the outside while globs of sorrow would ooze out every once in a while.  I hated when he’d say this in such a dejected tone of voice.  It made me feel guilty for being upset with him.  I was simply expressing my displeasure with something that he’d said or done, not wishing that he wasn’t there at all. 

It was years later when I realized that he really believed that we would have been happier without him there.  And, to be honest, sometimes we were more relaxed, at ease, free to be ourselves when just with Mom.  Even so, it is always horrible to feel unwanted, unwelcome, unloved, or unappreciated.  Of course, I felt the presence and absence when my dad passed away.  I feel it still.

Kevin and I have gotten in the habit of saying a variation of this phrase to each other, but it has a different, more optimistic twist.  “You know you’d miss me” or “you’d miss me eventually” are our oft-repeated responses when we’ve said or done something that runs the gamut from endearing to outrageous. 

I like our versions.  They imply that we would be missed because we are loved, even with all of our idiosyncrasies, faults, and flaws.  Implicit also is that we have dearly missed one another in the past.  
My mom's gift to me when I turned 18.

Kevin and I spent several years at the beginning of our relationship living several states apart.  We began officially dating when I turned 18.  Missing each other was something we did often and well. 

Through God's grace (and my mom's), we made it through our time of separation through many phone calls, letters, notes, more phone calls, and the occasional visits.  I mention phone calls twice because we spent a lot of time talking even before we were dating officially.  

What do I mean by a lot?  This will give you an idea.  To celebrate my 18th birthday,  my mom took me out to dinner and presented me a nicely wrapped box with this inside: the hard copy of our AT&T phone bill for the first few months that led to our dating as soon as I turned 18.  My gift was that my mom paid for the bill.  I was tremendously grateful and really surprised we'd racked up such a high bill in such a short period of time.  

You've likely heard this song featured in the movie Pitch Perfect.  It sums up pretty well what Kevin and I mean when we say "you know you'd miss me."

One of Kevin's co-workers loved to say: "How can I miss you if you won't go away?"  As a married couple living in a two bedroom apartment, we sometimes feel that way about each other.  We each need some downtime alone, but no matter how much we get on each other's nerves, we do miss one another when we have to spend significant chunks of time apart.  Another phrase I often say is: "It's good to be missed; it means you're loved.

Kevin and I both miss our dads, but we're grateful for what they taught us while they were here about what's most important in life: love, relationships, and being present.
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