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I walk into the grocery store. I spot an older woman looking at the greeting cards underneath the title that reads, Father’s Day.

Fumbling with my cart, my stomach falls. I don’t shop for Father’s Day cards anymore. This particular fact pierces my gut. One of my absolute favorite things is buying cards and sending them to my loved ones. I love picking out the card, writing my message, placing a stamp on the envelope and dropping it in the mail.

As far back as I can remember, I always bought or made a card for my Dad. Dad preferred not to receive gifts, but always, always accepted our cards. I never realized how much they meant to him until after he passed.  I cleaned out his desk and belongings. The bottom drawer of his desk revealed that he had kept a few of the cards I sent to him in the past.

This discovery surprised me. Although my Dad and I talked about politics, education, and general subjects, we never engaged in discussions about sentimentality. Perhaps it was a product of his own upbringing, where talking about  emotions marked a sign of weakness. As much as he tried to remain stoic at times, I caught him shedding tears while watching father-daughter moments on the movie screen and when he held his granddaughter for the first time. He possessed a quiet sentimentality that he exhibited in unscripted moments.

In the last few months, I realize how much time has passed since he’s left my world. Last week, I opened the mailbox and an old bank, for whatever reason, addressed an envelope in his name. This morning my path intersected with a car and two words appeared prominently on the back of the van, Johnson Controls. My Dad spent most of his working life at that company. It’s been years since I’ve seen that logo and it made the gravity of my feelings and what I am writing today have a more layered meaning.

I started writing this post last night and a deep pang of panic hit. He is not here anymore. I miss him. There are so many things I want to say to him. There are questions I have. There is happiness I want to share. There is anger I want to address. As much as I loved my father, our relationship had potholes. We were not the best at navigating our way out of them.

But this weekend, I will think about all those Father’s days when I picked out a card for my old man. It was an honor to do so.

If you are thinking about getting a card for your father, walk, no, run into the grocery store. Pick out that card. And send it to your father.

Cause as much as I want to, I can’t.

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