Paul William Beaudette a.k.a Tiki
I lost my Dad when I was 15 years old and he was the young age of 41. That was thirty years ago. Why is it I feel his loss as much, if not more today, then I did all those years ago?
My Dad Billy died from a massive heart attack. His heart exploded and he flew off of the couch and onto the floor. He was a big man. Looked like Grizzly Adams to me. He was an iron worker, who loved to hunt, fish, skydive, play on his odyssey and ride around on his Harley Davidson. He played hard and lived hard. My dad was a mans man. An intimidating man, to say the least. Large in part to his size and his tough demeanor. No one messed with “The Tik”… No one! If he liked you, you were one of the lucky ones. If he did not, you were probably screwed! (smiling as I type this)
My parents were divorced and had a rocky relationship. However, my parents would have and did, help each other out, whenever duty called for it. They were fearless! Nobody fucked with them! Because of my parents relationship, at the time of my Dads death, I acted as if I really didn’t care about his passing. I remember being at my girlfriend Terri’s house, for a sleepover, when my mom called with the news and said she was coming to pick me up. All I wanted to do was go to the mall with my friends. I could have cared less… so I thought. I had this wall up and didn’t want anyone to see me hurting inside. The pain was greater than I had ever imagined.
The turn out at my Dads funeral was remarkable. I had never seen anything like it. He was loved by so many. People from all walks of life showed up to pay their respects, to the legend, who they called Tiki. The Harley Davidson motor cage was unbelievable. A true showing of solidarity amongst his fellow bikers. I know my Dad was looking down and smiling on that day.
It was after the funeral when his passing truly hit me. And hit me hard, it did. I remember lying in my bunk bed and sobbing. To this day, I still sob over losing him. I have carried his loss with me, for so long now. I think about him missing my graduations. There were three and he missed them all. My prom, no Dad. On my wedding day, which every girl dreams about their dad walking them down the aisle. Still no Dad. I was very fortunate to have my mom do me the honors and take his place. The birth of my son. His first grandchild. His eldest grandson, one of two, whom he never got to meet. All the important milestones in my life, he missed out on.
My Dad died around the holidays. Christmas for me has never been the same. I went through the motions, for many years, when my son was little but to be honest, Christmas is just another day, as far as I’m concerned. Now that I am 45, I would think that the sadness, I’ve been carrying around all these years, would have disappeared by now, but it has not.
The relationship between my Dads family and his children has pretty much been non-existent. My grandmother was an alcoholic and treated my sister and I like crap. She did not like my mother and pretty much took that out on her grandchildren. My grandfather was a Fire Chief and I remember loving the man. I don’t recall to many pleasant visits with her but I do with him. In the end they both treated my sister and I like outsiders. It really hurt the both of us deeply. We were young teenagers and did not deserve to be treated the way we were. We lost our Dad and eventually lost his entire family. I have cousins whom I’ve never even met. It’s quite sad when I think about it.
When it came down to getting a stone for my Dads grave, my mom let us use her social security checks (from my dad) to pay for the stone of our choice. It was a beautiful stone. A pink stone with a cross and roses engraved on the front, with his nickname Tiki written on it. The back had a beautiful saying, that my little sister wrote, along with his full name and dates of his birth and passing. My grandparents did not like this stone. They tried all kinds of ways to get us to change it. We refused to. Then one day my sister took her friends to the cemetery, to show them our Dads new stone and all they found was a hole in the ground. My grandparents had done the unthinkable! They had his casket dug up and moved a couple hundred feet away, to another plot. A plot where they would eventually be buried too. They even put up another stone. It was heartbreaking for me and my sister. I lost it, on both my grandparents. I hated them for what they had done and things were never the same between my Dads daughters and his parents. Eventually, we became exiled, by the entire Beaudette family. If they cared about us, which I’m sure they did, we never knew it or felt it.
I go to the cemetery quite often these days. However, I didn’t go for the longest time. My Dads body isn’t even near the stone. His parents are. My dads off to the right, with his Vietnam plaque, resting in the ground at his feet. It used to bother me to go and see him, in his new resting place. As I got older, I decided to make my way over to his new stone. (Instead of praying at his plaque) I had to release all that anger, I had towards my grandparents. It wasn’t easy to do, but I had to let those feelings go. It took me many, many years, to find peace with all that had been said and done.
When Fathers Day, his birthday, Thanksgiving, Christmas, even my birthday, rolls around, I can’t help but cry and feel the tremendous loss of my Dad. When I’m in pain, having a bad day or need a big bear hug, I wish he were here to put his arms around me and tell me every thing is going to be okay. I missed out on having him help me grow up. All little girls need their Dads, whether they’re 5 years old or 55.
They say that time heals all wounds. I don’t necessarily agree with that. I think in time we learn to cope with the loss a little better but the pain and sadness never really goes away. I know it has never left me. I still carry his license in my wallet, to this very day. I find it comforting.
Some people feel I should be long over these crazy feelings, that I still carry around with me but I cannot help the way I feel. I miss my Dad very much. I missed out on so much and so did he. I wonder if he would be proud of me? Proud of the woman I have become. Does he watch over me and my son? Does he see me breakdown and cry when I’m thinking about him? Can he see the tears rolling down my cheeks as I write this? So many questions…
The death of my Dad was and has been the toughest loss, I’ve ever had to deal with. I know the pain of losing him, will always be with me, regardless of how much time passes by. I do my best to live my life to the fullest and celebrate his life and not mourn his death and all the loss that came with it. I try to remember the good old days.
He was a good man. He was my Daddy. He was my one and only.
My son Ricky and I.