Remember in elementary school when the “cool kids” had a super secret club that you had to be given a super secret invitation to become a member of? That invitation was Wonka’s Golden Ticket, smooth and shiny, a little slice of sunlight that could be folded into a tiny triangle and tucked in your back pocket. Not a soul would know you had it, but you’d stand up a little straighter, walk a little tougher, and smile a lot wider.
Last July, I joined a super secret club with an exclusive guest list. You couldn’t be in the club, unless you met a specific criterion. I joined the “Dead Dads Club.”
Now despite what you may have heard, this club has a lifetime membership. That membership cannot be frozen, cancelled, or refunded by any means. It’s not a club with a fancy, five-step handshake taught to you upon signing your name on the back of a laminated membership card that’ll get lost in a sea of credit cards and receipts in your overstuffed wallet. It’s not a club with a 25 page long agreement that you have to show two forms of identification to get approved for. It’s a club with no guidebook, no way of navigating the labyrinth. There are no matching necklaces, cut in fragments, each member wearing a different puzzle piece. There are no neon rubber bracelets with an ambiguous acronym printed on it. There is no symbol, no flag, no crest.
This super secret club is filled with members both young and old, some who have just started their journey and others who are on the last leg of a wild ride. This club is uniquely under-appreciated. It’s not comprehendible to those on the outside, despite what they may think. Belonging to this club is unlike any other. While others may be filled with common interests, knowing glances, and shared secrets, this club is not. This club is one with members from all walks of life, united by a common thread that cannot be snipped when frayed. This common thread, though connects us, never truly brings us together as one.
There is no motto, no slogan, no field trips, no t-shirts. There are however memories, deeply rooted in our minds. Voicemails that can be archived forever, photographs kept in overflowing boxes in backs of closets, stories that can be retold time after time. The dead dads club is a super secret club I never thought I’d be asked to join. Wonka, you can have your golden ticket back, I’m just fine without it.