At the beginning of last year, we talked about cruises, about a new granddaughter, about me being a pain in the arse about you guys coming the same time other guests did. We spoke on my actual birthday for the first year in I can’t remember, since you always ALWAYS joked it was on the 31st and not the 30th and for years you called me on the 31st. It was our tradition. You celebrated your retirement, long awaited, and done in stylish fashion – a tuxedo and a huge grin. You greeted your newest granddaughter and showed off your littlest girl (hi Mazy dog) when you came up for the first time since I’d been living in Atlanta. You were so alive and happy and looking forward to everything that was coming.
And dad, after having six daughters, five heart attacks and a stroke, if there was anyone who deserved to relax, it was you.
So when we got the call that you were in the hospital, I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach, and I knew I had to come down. I watched you laugh at the nurses, wobble the spoon up to your mouth because your hands weren’t steady, and then look at me and shrug with that sheepish grin that I’ll always remember, the one I probably do without realizing it. That we cracked up laughing when I had to walk you to the bathroom and sternly reminded you about the twice rule.
I watched you cry your last tears on Earth when you said you didn’t want to die, I watched you fight when you didn’t realize you were fighting, and I watched you finally quiet down, when it was all too much to bear. I wasn’t there for your final breaths, but I was there to hear you say you loved me for the last time.
We may not have had much, we certainly were never rich or travelled, but I remember you building furniture and me playing in your sawdust. I remember the 50’s and 60’s music in the car all of the time, that even now, when I listen to it, earns me odd looks as if to say “how do you know this music”? I remember the claw, the cracked egg over the head, camping, picnics, your ability to be peaceful and to find peace for others, your empathy, your stubborness. The good intentions, the ugly suits you used to wear to work, the first cell phone in your car, which was a brick when I look at mine today. I remember meeting Vanna White with you. We thought that was amazing.
I know I got my love of good horror movies from army crawling into your room at night, and watching Swamp Thing or some other random old horror movie when you didn’t know I was in there. Then you would pick me up from the floor the next morning where I was sound asleep and put me in my own bed. I ALSO remember being locked out of said room and sleeping on the floor next to the door (that stubbornness I inherited apparently) – I haven’t forgiven you for locking me out.
Without you, I wouldn’t be here, and I definitely wouldn’t be the person I’ve turned into. Sometimes I’m not proud to be me, but I’m so proud to have been your daughter. To have known and loved you, to have been loved by you. There are a lot of girls you are leaving Dad. Mac & Morgan are going to miss you terribly, and I am sad they didn’t get to have you for as long as I did.
I can only believe you’ve gone somewhere better, a richer retirement than you were expecting. Because that’s what I have to believe. But I miss you and I miss the fact that I won’t hear you anymore or see your face, or roll my eyes at your corny jokes.
I love you Dad.
Your Favorite Daughter
P.S. They all know I was your favorite!!
This post is dedicated to my Father. May you rest in peace, and have some major parties wherever you are…