Many a times in the last few days I have sat down at this computer & started to write. Nothing has come to completion, but it has all had the same subject matter. My dad. He has been on my mind so much lately. I have had so many memories come to mind that at random moments I will laugh out loud. Just today that happened as we were in the car & my youngest asked what was so funny. How do I explain to a 3-year-old that I was laughing about a man he'd never met. One whom helps to make up who he is, but that he'll never have the chance to know?
My dad passed away five years ago. On Valentines day. Seriously? Worst holiday ever to loose someone on. Everywhere there are candies and hearts and balloons and flowers. Meanwhile there are a few of us who reflect on the man who was. Not that we wear black or don't celebrate the day. Maybe at first it felt a little off to be doing so, but if you knew my dad you would know he would guffaw at the thought. He never cared to be the center of attention. He felt most comfortable behind the video camera not on the stage in front. It is strange to think of how much has changed in the time he has been gone. At times it seems he's been gone for decades due to so many new memories that have been made that he is not a part of . Other times it seems only yesterday that he would be leaning on his & my mom's kitchen counter cracking himself up with his own corny jokes.
When I think of my dad I mostly recall the last few years of his life, the last week specifically, sure there are countless memories of road trips, arguments (he & I were a little too similar), fishing, guitar playing, golfing, card games & football watching, not to mention the times he busted me for coming in after curfew or the looks he would give me when he saw a new tattoo or hair color, but what left the biggest impression on me was how he suffered so the last few years & yet never once did I hear him complain. He lost the ability to do so much he loved & so much that we all take for granted. He was no longer able to go hit a few balls, go out to lunch with his retired work friends much less go down stairs or walk from one end of the room to the other without totally loosing his breath. He couldn't go into the bottom level of his house. His skin bled & tore easily. He HAD to have his oxygen to do any little movement. I am sure there were many more ailments he had that I wasn't even aware of. Maybe that was just between he & my mom who cared for him so tenderly. Yet, he was on this earth two years longer than the doctors predicted. He got to meet all of his grandchildren, but one, he saw all of his children mature into capable adults. He knew when the day came for him to leave this place that he would be welcomed into Heaven by those who'd gone before him.
I think it is totally okay to take a few days & sift through the memories of someone who has passed away. Something I've learned is that when you loose a parent no matter how near or far of a relationship you have with them you loose a tiny bit of yourself as well. I remember confiding in a friend a few months after he had passed that I missed him. Her reply saddened me & made me probably swear in my head at her (just being real) she said "Really? You didn't even seem that close." Now I know that typically people just don't know what to say when they come face-to-face with someone else's grief. Grief is something we will all experience, but it is something we all deal with a little differently. And unless you've gone through it yourself there is a chance you may say some insensitive things to those who are in it. Don't feel bad though we have grace on you in the moment & then when the time comes & you go through it yourself we will be there for you.
All this to say I miss him. I wish my boys would grow up with knowing him as one of their grandpas. I wish they could play hours of catch with him. I wish he was still here laughing & clapping his hands together when he was trying to convince you that a shot of whiskey out in the garage is what would cure that sore throat. But I think that it has taken him being gone for me to learn to appreciate the father he was & the wisdom he held. I wish I could say that we had an amazing father-daughter relationship & that when I think back over our lives together that they were conflict free & that he was always loving & that I was always respectful. But we people are messy & so are the lives we lead. Although it was far from perfect it was ours. And I am going to take it. I am going to embrace our story & keep adding to it. So that one day when my boys are talking to their children they will be able to share stories about Grandpa Wil & how he lived the life he'd been given.