I am hijacking my mom’s space just for today and I am writing about my dad. On Friday he will be gone ten long years. He would be 91 if he were still alive today. There is hardly a day, like my mom, that I don’t think about him.
After my dad died, my neighbors generously gave us a gift certificate and Steve and I purchased a beautiful flaming red, maple tree from Bachman’s. The three of us found the right spot in the yard and we planted and watered it and watched it grow for ten years. Steve and I argue on many occasions of the need for it to be pruned. I cringe of the thought of it being cut back, as if it were actually human. I finally allowed him to have a company prune it last year and admittedly, it looks much better. It is called, Papa’s Tree. On the base of the tree is this:
Now that I look at the tree, I realize that it sits perfectly outside of the girls room. Looking over them with its long, hardy branches. It’s stood the test of bugs, windy days, pouring rain and our beagle, always wanting to urinate at the tree base. It’s a beauty and it reminds me of my dad everytime I look out the window or read on the deck. In the past few weeks, a cardinal has sat on its branches and watched me read. Not singing, but just watching.
It is hard to believe he left us ten years ago. I feel like he just walked me down the aisle, cradled Sophia in his arms and told Steve naughty jokes. There is a piece of him in my heart that will forever be imbedded. Right beside my mom.
I think that when we think of our loves ones we mostly think about the good things and there were many. My dad was also a complex man with many faults that we ourselves share in this complex world. No one is perfect. What I want to remember him for is this…
He once drove four hours round trip to deal with an unsavory car dealer who felt he was taking advantage of me. He was correct, I know now as an adult.
He also drove four hours round trip to help me change a tire on my tan escort that I drove into the ground as a young adult. I’m sorry about that Dad.
When he knew I was not making the wisest decision, he would type me a letter on his old, green typewriter. Tap Tap Tap. I can picture him at his old desk, coffee brewing near by, Pall Mall sitting in an ashtray.
He loved being a Papa, but only getting to watch Sophia grow to be four. Emme not getting to know my dad or his fierce love I can imagine he would have for his girls.
I remember after a long day, working in the farm fields, he’d get out of his tractor and shoot hoops with me on the basket attached to our garage. He loved watching me play sports, at times yelling things at me, like only a father will do. “Go Tiger!” I can imagine that he has a special spot, right above the clouds, watching his girls play their games. I sometimes wonder if I can hear him from up above.
I loved how fiercely he protected Mom, so concerned about her even though he knew he was dying of cancer right before our eyes. He was well aware of her memory issues.
I loved that he walked me down the aisle to marry his favorite son-in-law two weeks after he had open heart surgery. He left early but still was present and beaming that someone finally married me. Oh, Dad.
I was reminded of him weeks ago when a man I take care of hugged me goodbye. I could smell Aqua Velva on him and immediately thought of my Dad. Such a nostalgic smell.
I grew to understand his politics that we didn’t always share. I remember when we had a mock election for a president when I was in elementary school and I came home so happy that the man I voted for, won the school election. Jimmy Carter. He looked at me and didn’t say a word but I could tell on his face he was disappointed and upset. I wonder what he would think of our crazy world now.
I love that he picked me to be his girl. Out of all of the babies, he picked the fattest, two month old screamer with the big brown eyes.
I don’t miss his banging a cup for the waitress to bring him more coffee. I think that is the only thing I don’t miss. Tap, Tap, Tap. Just like the typewriter.
I hope he and mom are up there, where Emme thinks they are at. High above the clouds, finally together. I hope he watched me take care of Mom and was proud.
Miss you, Dad. xoxo