He missed my wedding and the birth of my daughter. There’s not a day that I don’t miss him.
I think of him a lot when I look at my little girl. I wonder what wisdom he would share from his experience of raising five daughters (and myself.) Was he just as overjoyed/terrified when the doctor handed him his newborn? Was he really that smart or was he just making up the answers? Will Rose look up to me the same way? Will I receive routine Christmas and birthday presents of dry-roasted peanuts and golf shirts?
Even though he’s gone, I feel closer to him now. Having a kid gives you a lot better perspective on your own parents. I fully understand why he could rarely keep his eyes open through a half-hour TV show. I know why he built us that clubhouse that still stands in the backyard. I see why he did whatever he could to help out his kids.
My mom tells the story of him rushing home with tears in his eyes when she thought one of us needed to go to the ER. Not sure he was reduced to a blubbering mess that I was when my daughter came down with croup but it’s nice to know that we’re cut from the same cloth. Which reminds me: even though she’s only 15 months old, I feel I should start preparing my daughter for the embarrassment of having a weepy dad drop you off for college even if you would be home next weekend – it’s a family tradition.
While it saddens me deeply that my children will never know their grandfather, I try to think of the stories (legends?) I’ll tell them about him. We’ll talk about the cross-country station wagon adventures, his uncanny abilities to win carnival games, how he made every waitress rattle off every salad dressing only to predictably request “pop-a-seed.” At the heart of every tale will be the same moral – he was fiercely loyal, worked hard, helped anyone that he could and loved his family.
There are near daily reminders that make me realize that he’s not gone. I hear his voice escaping my old mouth when I call Rose “buster” when she misbehaves. I see my sisters thriving and succeeding as they channel his work ethic. My mom continues to learn new tricks and is a guiding light for our growing family – although I take on the boyfriend-vetting process as my personal mission.
Let’s all take some time this weekend to remember the men that helped shape us into the dads we are today. Then, go out and create some memories that your kids will tell their kids about.