Looking back on March 31
As a child, March 31 rolled around just like any other day in our household. We knew it was the anniversary of our father’s death (and resurrection in Heaven), yet it was rarely talked about. I’m not sure why, except that my parents’ generation believed in moving on, moving ahead, and dealing with what life had dealt. While there was pain, there was also reason to rejoice. God was faithful and would continue to be faithful.
Learning since March 31
I have an older sister – Katharine – who kept talking about our father. Thanks to her, we knew a lot about him as we grew older. Papa loved “stink cheese”. He was called the Amish lawyer because he settled differences among neighbors and surveyed land to help establish boundaries. He liked books and read voraciously. All of these things I learned from everyday conversations in our home, thanks to Katharine. She never stopped talking about him because she wanted us to know. We could not shy away from March 31, because Katharine was going to talk about him.
It is not that our mama was unwilling to talk about Papa; she just didn’t bring it up unless she was asked. How is a child to know what kind of questions to ask when she is so young at his passing? I asked questions, but only later, when I was a teenager. Who was this man who fathered me? I carried his genetics, yet I knew so little about him. Mama readily talked about him, but only when I asked.
Living after March 31
Every year on this date, I remember. I will never know what it is like to grow up with a father in my home. I will always wonder. It’s something a person misses without knowing exactly what they are missing.
I’m grateful for my sister Katharine who shared her memories and talked freely of him because she knew we needed to know who he was. I had uncles and aunts who shared their memories with me (when asked), so I could know him better, and I’m grateful.
I am also grateful for the faith and confidence of my mother, whose answer to my question one day laid the foundation for trust in a Heavenly father.
“Did you cry when Papa died?” I asked, because I really could not remember.
“A little,” she said. “But I knew God would take care of us.”
He has. He has taken care of us.
That’s why, 61 years after his passing, I still remember. I remember what I missed and what I still had. That is why there are no tears today.