Happy Father’s Day Daddy,
I cannot recall too much of what life was like with you when I was a little girl because you were always working so hard to take care of us. You had a Monday through Friday job that you worked and then another part time one that ran on the weekends. You always crabbed about the first job but seemed to enjoy the second one – I think. I can’t recall what I made for you or gave you for Father’s Day back then either but I am sure it was something typical that little kids made in elementary school for their fathers.
I recall us getting into an argument about who was going to get the last bit of lemonade that was in the pitcher and how I was more afraid of you spanking me than anything mom could dish out for punishment. But I recall you eating the really weird cupcake I made in my Easy Bake Oven and you teaching me how to play pool with this teeny tiny pool set you bought me and the stories you used to tell of your days as a young man shooting pool in the pool hall. You taught me how to play poker although for the life of me as a 10 year old I could never ever master the art of the poker face and you played Hungry Hungry Hippo and Mousetrap with me until both games broke.
It was fun when you took me to the zoo when I was five and you scared me to death making me feed the ducks popcorn from my hand so you could get that one shot (does photography run in our blood perhaps?) You took me fishing with this bamboo pole and cork bobbin and we caught these little bitty fish about the size of a business card but I thought I had done something! Because of you I learned about jazz before I learned about any of the trending music of the time. And you had me worried when you said you and mom found me in a cabbage patch in Ludlow, California under a cabbage leaf. I thought you were nuts until one day when we were driving out west we drove past a sign that said Ludlow exit here. For a hot minute I thought the cabbage patch story was true. I was an impressionable six year old.
As I got older things changed as they were meant to because you became the super protective dad as I entered the teen years. You scared the daylights out of every boy that ever tried to date me and you banned me from wearing makeup because you said “real beauty did not need any face paint”. So like your classic teenage girl I would get the once over look before I left the house and then would make the boy pull over at a gas station while I put on some makeup; reversing the process before I came home. You taught me all about what kinds of drinks there were so that when I went to a party I could tell if someone tried to slip something into my drink. Because of you I only did underage drinking twice and never again. Thanks.
There were moments when you showed up for major events in my life like graduations and moments when we had arguments where you didn’t show up like other graduations. But that all changed when you became a grandfather. Who took my dad and replaced him with this man I thought. You were so in love with your grandson you would just sit at the foot of his bassinet and stare at him sleeping. You adored both of your grandchildren and taught them your weird sense of humor like teaching them to go for the restaurant size cans/jars of anything and try to put them in my shopping cart. You also taught them how to play poker too…and how to cheat at it. How in the world did you get 6 cards in your hand when we were playing five card stud I will never know; you had a great chuckle about it.
But we all grew older and sadly you grew sicker and had to live out the end of your days in hospitals and the Veterans Home. It was very difficult then on all of us but I tried my best to be a good daughter and take care of you. The kids having reached the age of being teens and 20’s did not come and visit you as much because they were busy with their lives and schools and it had gotten harder on them to see you deteriorate. You were happy when you learned that your grandson had made you a great grandfather. I’m sorry you did not get to see the little guy; you would’ve had that same goofy grin on your face staring at him as you once did staring at his father. I used to bring you Happy Meals to eat because you weren’t able to eat as much then and your room had a collection of the toys in the window. I also made sure I brought back the wildest tee-shirts I could find for you to wear when I went traveling. You had a great time wearing the Virgin shirt I bought you at the Virgin Record Store. The nurses and other ladies at the vets home made all sorts of comments about that shirt but they all knew it came from your daughter who loved you. They even began to look forward to what new shirt I would come up with for you.
I was right there with you when you drew your last breath and they had to practically drag me out of the room because I didn’t want to leave you alone waiting for the funeral home people. Yes, I knew you had already left the building but I still wanted to some how protect you and make sure you were treated properly as I had for so many years when you were sick. The roles had reversed when I became the caregiver to you and I knew it hurt your pride but we muddled through with barely any arguments about it. Well at least far far less arguments than we had when I was a teenager.
I still miss you, daddy, but know you are in a better place watching us and proud of the fact that your grandson has gotten pretty darn good at playing Texas hold em.
Happy Father’s Day with love,
(This is the last picture taken of us together before he passed. I was taking him out to the VFW picnic for his favorite things – a burger and a beer!)