I’ve analyzed – ok over analyzed - this fact in my mind over the last few days and have come to the conclusion that he didn’t want me to see him in the state he was in and he just let go. That and the fact that the next day was my birthday. Talk about a double whammy. But I know my Dad and he would never have wanted me to live with the fact that he died on my own birthday. I choose to believe he wanted to give me that one last gift.
The past few days have been extremely difficult for my family and friends that loved my Dad. It is hard to deal with the shock and disbelief. I still can’t believe he is gone. I know he is gone, but I can’t believe it. I keep thinking I am going to go to bed, wake up and this will all be a bad dream. Though falling asleep easily seems to have escaped me in recent days.
My Dad wasn’t your typical Dad and long ago, he earned his gold metal in the "embarrassing your kids" category of parenting. Growing up in my family was similar to the Griswold's. Like when he would pick me up in middle school in his rusted out, beat up station wagon and honk the horn so I knew he was there. As if I didn't actually SEE said rusted out, beat up station wagon in the circle drive.
Dad took it in stride. He just laughed when I brought up the fact that I wanted to crawl in a hole until I was 18 and be free of his antics. He simply drove me home, asked how my day was, how tennis practice was and what time my match was that week so he could come watch and further embarrass me. He was just happy to be able to drive me home from school.
Thankfully for me, we lived roughly .005 miles from the school.
I have found out many things about my Dad in the past two days that I did not know. Although I knew he had a kind heart towards his family, I did not know the length he extended it. I met an elderly, adorable couple at the memorial service, aka funeral (my Dad didn’t want a funeral. Sorry Dad but your girls vetoed you one last time). The couple walked up to where I was standing and I introduced myself as “Dave’s youngest daughter.” The man – who later told me he was in his 90’s – had tears rolling down his face as he proceeded to tell me how much he loved my Dad. Turns out, they knew him from bowling and lived around the corner from my Dad who would stop by their house once a week and check in on them. Whatever they needed, my Dad would either fix it himself or make it happen. The man was so distraught by my Dad’s passing, I found myself trying to console him.
Others at the funeral home, many of whom I’ve never met, told me stories of my Dad over the years that they knew him. I kept hearing one common theme. How giving my Dad was. He loved to cook and try new recipes and would stop at a friend’s house and bring them a plate of the latest creation he made. He would snowblow people’s driveways and expect nothing in return, deliver goodies from his garden or invite friends out to his lake home to fish.
My Dad was proud of his service to our nation and was a member of the VFW Honor Guard. My Dad received that same honor he used to give at his own service. As I watched the men walk down the aisle and salute my Dad’s urn – we chose his tackle box because of his love of fishing – I thought of how many times my Dad paid the same tribute to other service men and woman who have passed on. It was special to see it for him. He deserved it.
All I can hope from you reading this that if you are blessed to still have your parents, hug them tight. Call them. Tell them you love them. Write them a letter and thank them for everything they have done for you. My Dad knew I loved him despite him driving me crazy. Just like in my middle school days, he took it in stride and moved on to the next subject.
Dad, I miss you terribly. I long to listen to your chuckle one more time. You always laughed at my jokes and chimed in right after with another. I’ll miss our time at the lake, building a fire and making as many ridiculous smores concoctions we could think of. I was looking forward to this summer of extending on our Nutella and Peanut Butter Cup creation. I’ll miss your daily email forward of the “recipe of the day” and how excited you always were to tell me about a new recipe you made. I’ll miss your sense of adventure, like swallowing a minnow to gross us kids out, and your willingness to always try something at least once.
You weren’t a perfect Dad, but you were the perfect Dad for me. Farewell Dad, I hope the fish are biting.
My Dad, frosting a three layer pie baked inside of a cake.
These are the sort of concoctions he enjoyed creating.