This time of year is tough…my father’s birthday and the anniversary of his death fall in the same week.
I think of – and yes, even talk to – my dad regularly, but, for obvious reasons, that one week a year really brings him to mind. And I’m thankful for having him in my life as long as I did.
My dad was the yardstick every man I met throughout my life was measured by. Poor man had three daughters and no sons. Even our dog growing up was female. But he never missed having a son…his whole life was dedicated to taking care of “his girls.”
One of my first memories of my father was when I was around 4. Daddy and I were going to be home alone one evening…my older sisters were out with their friends and Mom worked nights at that time. My oldest sister put me to bed before she left, and Dad came in not long after to see if I wanted to come watch TV and eat potato chips with him. It was awesome!
I remember playing “soccer,” which for us meant kicking a ball against the house while he watched dinner on the grill. I remember him playing street softball or “500” with the kids in the neighborhood, which meant I got to play too, albeit as all-time catcher. I can still hear him whistle from the front porch, which meant that it was time to come home. EVERYBODY in the neighborhood could hear it and they all knew what it meant…just in case, I went momentarily deaf.
I remember him falling asleep in the car when he picked me up from my first job…while I drove home on my permit. I remember him coming out in sub-zero weather to change my flat tire.
I remember talking with him in high school. Lots of general conversations about miscellaneous topics, but I learned a lot about him and his perspective on life. I remember the “talk” the day before prom, when he tried to explain that my boyfriend was nice but to watch him and proceeded to hint at what boys might “expect.” Awkward for me, even more awkward for him, but I smile and feel incredibly loved every time I think of it.
Years later, I remember standing at the back of the church with him, waiting to walk down the aisle to marry previously mentioned boyfriend. Just as we got ready to take the first step, he turned and said, “Are you sure? We can still turn around and take the limo home.” Now you might think that meant he was not in support of my marriage, but he was. He just wanted to make sure his baby girl was happy.
I miss my dad. But I still hear his voice, telling me to stop for gas because I should always keep my tank full in winter, in case of bad weather. I hear him complaining every time I have to open some impossible plastic-shell packaging. But mostly I hear him letting me know that the first man in my life is still in my life…and that always makes me feel good.