Father’s Day is always tough for me. My dad has been gone for just over 4 years now, and I miss him as much today as ever. There is literally not a day that goes by that I don’t think about him.
My dad was the kind of guy that everybody liked. He always had a funny story or anecdote, and loved to tease people. It was never mean spirited, at least not intentionally, and everybody loved him, especially his wife, kids and granddaughters.
My dad had a very hard childhood. His parents were hard people. And when we were kids, I don’t remember hearing “I love you” a lot from him, but I knew it. He showed us he loved us in his own way. By letting us ride the riding lawnmower with him, or taking us to Winky’s when he went for his daily dose of coffee and gossip.
He really was a kind and understanding man. When my sister and I were little (like 4 and 5) we decided to climb the ladder to the roof of the barn. (Dad was at work as the local police chief, and Mom was in the house with our baby brother.) To this day, I have no idea why we decided to climb up there. Anyway, once we were up there for a while, I climbed back down the ladder, but Donna was too scared. I tried to talk her down, but she wasn’t having it, so I climbed back up the ladder to the roof so she wouldn’t be scared. You know, when Dad came home, I don’t remember him yelling at us about it at all. He just got us down the ladder.
I remember on the trip to take me to college. My first real memory of him telling me he loved me was on that trip. As we drove through Harrisville, I remember him saying to me “You don’t have to do this. We can go back home.” We all had a laugh over that. We arrived at school shortly after. We had unloaded the van, and were standing out in front of North Hall at Slippery Rock. He put his arm around me, gave me a sideways hug and said “I love you, kid. I’m proud of you.” I held it together until they were gone, but I’ve never forgotten it.
When we stood in the vestibule, waiting for the music cue to start our trip down the aisle, my Dad told me the same thing he said on the way to college. “We can get out of here and go back home if you want to.” I didn’t. Later, at the reception, during the Father-Daughter dance, he gave me a hug and told me he loved me. I cried.
I was fortunate enough to give my Dad three granddaughters that he loved very, very much. My girls’ dad and I were dating when I got pregnant, and I was still living with my parents. When Mom found out, Dad was away working, and I was afraid to tell him, so Mom said she would when he came home from his trip. I hid upstairs while she told him about my pregnancy. I had no idea how he would react to the news, but I figured he’d be pissed, and knew there was a chance that he’d kick me out of the house, so I tried to prepare for the worst. He walked to the bottom of the stairs, and yelled my name. I answered with a very meek “Yes?”. He said very sternly, “Did you think I was going to be mad when your mother told me about the baby?” I was already crying, and answered through tears “Yes.” What came next surprised the hell out of me. He said “Well, I was just talking to one of the guys at work the other day, and told him I thought it was about time I had grandchildren.” That was his way of telling me everything was going to be okay.
My girls were the sun and the stars to my dad. He had cancer for many years, and while he would have loved to see all my girls graduate, get married, and have babies, unfortunately, he was only able to see Mariah graduate from high school before the cancer took him from us.
Dad always worried about my weight. He didn’t ever tell me that, but my Mom told me that as I got bigger and bigger, he got more and more concerned. I know that he’s looking down at me from wherever he is, and he is proud. He’s proud of the steps I’m taking to lose weight, and make myself healthier. He’s proud of my girls, and how through all the trials and struggles they’ve had to endure in their brief lives, they have survived. Just like he did. And he’s proud of my Mom, for soldiering on after losing the love of her life, the man she took care of for twenty years.
Wednesday would have been his 75th birthday. I miss you, Daddy. And I love you.
Edit – When we were kids, one of my Dad’s favorite shows was “Emergency!”. We used to watch it every week. So I decided that I’d spend my afternoon alone watching their reruns. It really did make me feel better.