I Miss You
Posted by wendiwendy
Yesterday Dave was making a sandwich, and he had pickles on the side. He knows I hate pickles with a passion; if we’re at a restaurant and they serve me a sandwich with a pickle on the plate, I give it to him (and wipe my plate to get rid of the gross pickle juice that taints everything). He waved the jar at me with a mischievous grin. “Want a pickle??”
“Ew!! No!!” Then I started laughing. “You remind me of my dad – he used to love to tease me with foods he knew I hated.”
When I was a kid, my dad derived great pleasure from passing me the spinach or broccoli, waggling his eyebrows and asked if I wanted a big helping. He always knew what my answer would be…he just liked to see my dramatic reaction.
I remember him singing ‘Cool Water’… “All day I face the barren waste without the taste of water – cool water.” (I don’t remember much beyond that line, though!) I used to have a cassette recording of him singing the song with me, when I was probably five years old or so. He loved making cassette tapes with us on the stereo, my brother and I. He’d plug in the microphone and interview us, sometimes asking what we wanted for Christmas, sometimes asking us to recount tales of our little-kid escapades. We’d watch the needle on the signal meter on the stereo receiver, sometimes deliberately blowing or coughing into the microphone just to see the needle swing wildly. Then we’d start giggling, while my dad waited patiently for us to compose ourselves.
‘Patient’ is definitely a word I’d use to describe him. He could get heated and yell at us, sure, but he really was not one to lose his temper all that much. He would help me with my homework, take me fishing, bring me down to his workshop and show me how to use the tools – nails, saws, sandpaper. He helped me with the little projects I came up with – a wooden key ring holder that looked like a house, the bed I designed for my room when I was a preteen (I designed and painted, he built). I’d hang out with him in the garage while he worked on the lawn mower, and we’d walk around the yard, looking for new bird nests. (We always had a few in the spot where the downspouts met the house, up by the roof.)
I can still picture him singing along to the Beatles, the Rolling Stones, the Who. I can still see him in those groovy patterned shirts from the 70s, downstairs, dancing with my mom to the music on the stereo.
When I was a teenager we grew apart; the things I thought were funny as a kid just annoyed me as a teen. We fought more and I pulled away. But after a few years of that, I realized my dad was a pretty rational guy. If I was asking for permission to go somewhere or do something, I had a better chance of him saying yes if I sat down and talked to him about it, instead of fighting and yelling. He was willing to compromise, and although he didn’t always okay everything (and we still fought) there was a definite thawing of my previous frosty attitude toward him.
My dad was an amazing Papa to my kids. Paige didn’t get to know him as much as Eric did, but oh…Eric and my dad were such a team. They completely loved and were crazy about each other. My dad had infinite patience with Eric; he would sit and play cars or Legos or Transformers or action figures with him for hours. They would fly kites in the backyard; my dad would take Eric to the store and then come back and marvel at the things he could read when he was just a toddler.
When I was a single mom, my dad still watched over me – he took my car in for oil changes and made sure it was running well. When Paige locked herself in the bathroom and I couldn’t figure out what to do, he came over and showed me how to get the door open. It was stressful and scary being on my own with two little kids, but knowing he was there if I needed him helped me relax and get through the days.
When we found out my dad was sick, that the cough and fatigue was lung cancer and not a stubborn case of bronchitis, it was almost too much to process. I couldn’t imagine a world without my dad in it, and so I just refused to believe that he wouldn’t beat this disease. And less than two years later, even though we knew he was so sick, it was still a shock to me when I got to the hospital and found out he had passed away while I was stuck in traffic. I thought I was going there for a meeting with the doctors and family to plan the next stage of his care; I never, in a million years, expected to walk in and find out he was no longer with us.
It will be 13 years tomorrow, and I still miss my dad every day. I still talk to him and feel like he’s watching over all of us. Whenever something big happens, I think about the fact that he isn’t here to see it (sometimes that’s a good thing, like 9/11 or me going deaf; sometimes it’s a bad thing, like when each of my brother’s three wonderful children were born). How lucky I was, though, to have him for my dad. How lucky we all were to have him in our lives, even if the time was too short.