NOTE: I didn’t mean to, but this one is REALLY long. I’m not offended if you just don’t have the time or patience to make it through the whole thing.
I’ve been mentally writing this blog for days now. I miss my dad on day’s like this and I always feel sorry for people who know me but never met him. I make a little more sense if you know my dad.
Daddy died in March 2002 – 6 weeks before I graduated college, 7 weeks before I married Almost Ex. He had been diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) 2 years before. Most people know ALS as Lou Gehrig’s Disease. I never liked that name because it implies that the disease belonged to Lou Gehrig. And I don’t say that he “passed away.” I never have said that…it sounds too nice, too genteel. He died…he would have rolled his eyes at anything different.
Daddy had a huge impact on my life. He was a stay-at-home dad before it was considered almost normal. I spent a LARGE amount of time with him as a kid. He taught me how to make his meatloaf, how to fold laundry…and how to play Blackjack. We played for pennies and one day, after many months of play, I finally won his whole stash. He also taught me a little common sense (because I definitely wasn’t born with any) – his favorite trick to play was 52 Card Pick Up. I fell for it twice..yes, twice. He also taught me, “Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.”
Since his death, I’ve been accused of idealizing my father. Not quite. I will admit (and now that I’m adult I’d say it to his face if he were alive) he could be a complete jackass sometimes. He was the most strong-willed man I’ve ever come across in my life and even if you showed him proof that he was wrong, he still would never admit it. In his mind, his word was law, and his opinion was always the right one. Always.
Because of my dad, I don’t deal well with bullshit, I know most of the words to just about any song from the 50s, 60s, and early 70s, and I don’t give up control of the remote control easily. Because of him, I still love the University of Florida Gators, I know how to make a quick spaghetti sauce, and I know how to dribble a basketball (sort of) and play Horse. Because of Daddy, I trust no one, I don’t ever repeat a mistake, and I’m harder on myself than anyone could ever be. I adore that man, even now.
I miss him on the big days (and the random days, too) – the birth of both boys, the purchase of our home, the end of my marriage, and anytime something really good or bad happens. I can imagine what he would say or do in almost every instance. He would have been a lenient Grandpa, allowing his grandkids to get away with crap he’d have kicked my ass for. He would have helped me landscape my yard because he loved to watch things grow and create beauty. He would have cracked a joke when my grandfather died so no one forgot to laugh a little even in the midst of sadness. And he would most definitely have an opinion on my pending divorce.
I’m a Daddy’s Girl, but not in the princess sort of way. Anytime I speak my mind, that’s him. Anytime I crack a sarcastic joke, that’s my dad. My dad didn’t believe in saying the words, “I love you.” I only remember hearing it once in my life and it was a few days before he died. He believed in showing love. He took care of every need he could, he pushed the ones he loved to be the best they could be, and he righteously defended my mom and me (even when we desperately just wanted him to stay out of it). Thankfully for the world, I’m like my mom too.
He was an amazing man. I know he would worry for me right now…I also know he would probably be in my home trying to help me run my life…he would remind me to crack a joke or two to lighten the mood…and he’d have a great time intimidating any man who ever looked at me twice…
He was hard to love. You either loved him or hated him, there was no middle ground. I loved him, feared him, respected him, and tried very hard to make him proud. Letting him down never felt good…losing his trust was horrible…gaining it back was almost impossible.
I miss him so much. But I know I wouldn’t be the person I am today without his influence during my childhood and his absence in my adulthood…