My father had cancer and died in August of 1996. A couple of months before he died, I went to visit him in the hospital. I had something weighing on my mind and I knew that his time on this earth was running out. There was something I needed to tell him. As luck would have it, he was without visitors when I showed up so I had the opportunity to finally sit down and tell him what I needed to say.
My father loved his family, especially his grandchildren. They became the only reason he woke up in the morning and pretty much the only reason he smiled toward the end. I was single with no children and I felt that I needed to apologize to my father for not giving him the one thing he loved most: a grandchild.
At that point in my life, I was dating but I hadn't met 'the one' yet. Now there was my father, sickly and dying and I knew if I were to ever have children, he would miss them because we all knew he was getting sicker and sicker, weaker and weaker. I looked at him and started to cry. "Daddy, I'm so sorry. I wish I had gotten married. I wish I had given you grandchildren. I hate myself for not doing that for you. I'm so sorry, Daddy. I really am sorry". I laid my head on his chest and he let me sob for a while without saying anything in return. After I got that out of my system, he finally spoke. "Baby, you don't have to apologize. I'm not disappointed at all. You don't have to regret anything. It doesn't matter that you didn't have children. Really. It doesn't matter. I love you, Baby Girl"
I felt like a load was lifted from my shoulders. I finally said it. After that we had a nice visit and talked about old times, laughed and joked and then he got tired. I left him to get some rest.
A month or so later, my father passed away, at home with his children and his wife around him. His life was over. His true brown eyes were gone.
Years later, I found 'the one' and to everyone's surprise (including my doctor's), I delivered a healthy baby boy in September of 2003. And like me and my father, my son Charles has deep, soulful brown eyes.
My son is growing up and the thought often crosses my mind that my father never got to see Charles. I know if my father were alive, Charles would be his world.
About a year ago while doing my weekly grocery shopping, I was pushing through and not paying very close attention and all of a sudden, crash! I managed to push my buggy right into the buggy of a man who was waiting for something at the deli. "Oh, I'm so sorry Sir! I wasn't paying attention!" and looking back at me was a handsome, tall gentleman with broad shoulders, a barrel chest and a pair of true brown eyes with little crow's feet on either side. For a second, I simply froze. This man, who I never saw before, looked so much like my father. He had the same physical build as my father had but his eyes......oh, his beautiful eyes.....they were my father's eyes. He had those true brown eyes, puffy lids and crow's feet just like my Dad's.
He was so nice and said not to worry about it. He grabbed what he needed at the meat counter, smiled at me and pushed his buggy around mine and went on his way.
I finished my shopping, checked out and headed toward my car with my groceries. After loading them in the trunk, I went to return the buggy and that same man was returning his own buggy at the same time. I just had to say something to him. His eyes were overwhelming to me and I thought for a second that he was going to think I was a complete lunatic, but I just needed to talk to him.
"Excuse me, Sir." He looked at me and smiled, showing off those beautiful eyes of his. 'I'm so sorry Sir but.....you look so much like my father.....I can't get over it". "Really? Well, your dad must be very handsome then" he teased. I tried to laugh, but I couldn't. Tears were forming and at that moment I knew, this was when the idea that I was a lunatic was going to enter his brain. My throat started to ache terribly but I continued. "My Dad was very handsome. He died in 1996 and I miss him so." His face changed from a grin to instant pity. "Sir, you have his eyes. Your eyes are exactly like my father's eyes" and as those words came out, so did the tears. He put his arm around me for a quicksecond and I heard him say "Awwww, Sweetie....don't cry."
I was embarassed and wanted to get in my car and ball my eyes out immediately. "I'm OK....it was nice to meet you" I managed to say. He smiled at me and said 'Have a good day, Honey" and gave me a little wave while walking toward his car.
A few months later, my son Charles begged and begged to go to the local McDonald's. He likes playing at the little playland they have after devouring his usual McNuggets and fries. It was rather busy with lots of children and parents and grandparents watching them play on all the tubes and slides.
As I scanned the area for a clean table, I saw a familiar pair of eyes. Sitting there eating a hamburger with his grandchildren and his wife was that man from the grocery store. As soon as he saw me he knew who I was. With a familiar smile and twinkle in his eye, "I know you! You said I looked just like that handsome father of yours!" he said while grinning ear to ear. I had a strange feeling of excitement because I got to see him again, but moreso because I had Charles with me.
Charles immediately started to climb and jump as soon as we got outside but I spotted him and called him over. I wanted this man to meet my son. Well, that's not really accurate. I wanted this man's eyes to look at my son. In a way, it was my father (or my father's eyes) looking at him and I found such peace in that. Charles came up and the gentleman shook his hand. "This is Charles, my son". "Hey Buddy! How you doing?" and for a quick second before Charles ran away to play some more, he looked right into this man's eyes. I felt myself exhale and it felt great.
I know that man isn't my father. I know those aren't really my father's eyes. But that afternoon at McDonald's, I felt like my father finally got to see his grandchild. The grandchild that I was able to finally give him. His grandchild with true brown eyes.