Christmas is over and we hosted our annual dinner with my family as we do every year, except this year there was one empty seat at our table.
I spent the next few days in a daze thinking about my late father and something a woman said to me at his memorial.
I had just given a long eulogy about my father and the importance of reflecting on his life and the love he had for our family. How you can’t take anything with you when you die but only leave memories behind.
How it was up to us to make the best memories we can, ones where we will be remembered as good men and women. To be the best person we can be and how important it was to love and to share our love with our families and friends.
She came up to me as we were closing down the memorial and said some pleasantries, how much she liked my eulogy, and then said, “Well, you’re the patriarch of the family now.”
The words didn’t hit home until I looked to where my father used to sit at our table.
What does even mean to be the patriarch of the family?
I don’t know but I can tell you that I’ve never been a man to shirk my responsibilities. My frail mother and aunt need my help now and I will step up to do my filial duties. To be there for them, to help them sort through my father’s belongings and find where he’s hidden his wealth.
I will be there, along with my sister, to help both of them navigate the bills, keep an eye on the house for repairs, and make sure they’re both safe and sound.
How does it feel to be the patriarch of the family?
I don’t even know what I’m feeling right now. I feel like I was given a crown to wear and I’m left with more questions than answers. My mother and aunt look to me now to help guide them because that’s what they relied on my father for.
This crown feels heavy but I will do my best as my father’s son to do my duties to my family.
Even if that means putting aside my grief for the time being.
It’s a few days before New Year’s Eve and I can’t wait for it come and pass. I don’t want to be awake to ring in the new year. I want to be in bed, with my electric sheets on, going to sleep early.
I want my partner to slip into bed next to me and put her cold feet against my legs. I want her to snuggle next to me and whisper “I love you.”
I want to wake up the next day and feel like I’ve been given a blank book, one with no mistakes in it. One where I can scribble, draw, make jokes, write of love, poetry, and so much more. I want to strengthen good friendships and cut out toxic ones. I want to do my duty as a son and as the family patriarch to the best of my ability.
I know that January 1st is an arbitrary day but this time it will feel like a fresh start for me, and if there’s one word to describe what I want from next year it would be “renewal.”
I want to heal from all the trauma that came to me this past year and feel the sunlight on my skin again.
The storm is over and the sea calms around me. The wind is picking up and as I unfurl my sails to catch the winds and let them carry me forward.
I look back and think of my father, I remember.
I turn and feel the wind on my back as my sails fill. Salt spray stings my face and I look ahead to the horizon and a new year for me and my family. I look toward renewal, hope, love, and laughter.
Dawn has finally broken and the sun is rising.
I write this with tears in my eyes.
We two have paddled in the stream
from morning sun till dine
But seas between us broad have roared
since auld lang syne.
And there’s a hand my trusty friend
And give me a hand o’ thine
And we’ll take a right goodwill draught
for auld lang syne
Happy New Year.
Happy New Chances.
Here’s to the blank page, and a fresh start.
Doesn’t it feel wonderful?