Tuesday, June 15, 2010

For Dad

As Father’s Day approaches I’ve spent some time thinking about my dad lately, as I'm sure others have. He’s been gone for just over 25 years, but I have fond memories of the man.

I don’t remember when my dad first got sick. It seemed like he was in and out of the hospital, sometimes ICU, through much of my childhood, but maybe it wasn’t as often as it seemed. I recall my Aunt Deana Mae taking my sister and me to the hospital to see him once. We were too young to go to his room, so she ushered him into the hallway to blow kisses at us through the glass. I don’t know how long he had been in the hospital that time. Maybe a day? Maybe a week? Long enough for us to miss him. That brief encounter was a joy.

Dad retired when I was in second grade, so he was the one who packed my lunch—he regularly made fried egg sandwiches for me at my request even though he couldn’t understand why I liked them, knowing they would be cold by the time lunchtime came. He was the one who greeted us when we got home from school. He’d ask what we learned and more often than not we didn’t learn anything…at least to hear us tell it.

He never made it to any of my softball games, but he would faithfully ask before I left for each game, “How many home runs are you going to hit?” Then, he would request a report when I returned. Come to think of it, I don’t think he ever made it to a school function either, but he always asked about it. In fact, I only remember him coming to the school once and that was to pick me up when I had gotten sick in the 3rd grade. Somehow it felt like he was always there even if he wasn’t physically present. That’s remained true over the last 25 years.

When I was 21, I learned that the man I called Dad and who had died 6 years earlier was not biologically my father. This is something I had somehow suspected, so it shouldn’t have been particularly shocking, but having it confirmed still managed to rock my world at least for a time. That is, until I focused on what Dad was instead of what he was not. I don’t know what my biological father thought about my existence, but I know that Dad loved me. He was my supporter. He taught me right from wrong. He was there for me. He was a simple man. He was a great man. He was, is, and always will be my dad.

Thank you, Dad for all that you did for me.

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