Life hasn't turned out as I expected, sometimes happily, sometimes sadly. So - this is all about the ever changing world, who I'm becoming, where I'm going and what shapes that.
Friday, November 18, 2011
30 years is not so long ago when you love someone
My father died thirty years ago today. He is in the back row, last man on the right. I wish I had more pictures of him scanned. 30 years seems so long ago, but it doesn't feel like long ago that my father was here with us. I was a daddy's girl. I think that's in part because when I was about 2, my father had to have back surgery and couldn't work, so my mother went back to work. Daddy stayed home with me and was my primary caregiver. My father liked to think we all looked like him. Truth is, 3 of the four of us look very much like our mother. My older sister does resemble Dad more. We do have some of him in us, of course. We three older children all have his brown eyes. My younger sister's nose is more like Dad's than Mom's. I inherited his lack of a butt. My sisters got his wavy hair. My brother's hair is very dark like Dad's. Daddy was quirky. He was pretty much color blind - or at least he appeared that way judging by his choice in outfits some times. As a teenager, I once sent him back to his room to change when he was headed to some official function as First Selectman. All I remember was that it was bad and there was orange involved. He used to wait until my sister and I came home from school at Christmas to do his Christmas shopping for Mom. He tried to get each of us to choose a college in Florida so he could come visit us. He loved to do projects around the house. Our first house had a brick wall he built, a sidewalk to the back door, a wishing-well to hide the garbage cans, a dry well for the gutters, a basketball court, a bridge over the creek running through the backyard, a large porch with a built-in bench and an extended covered front entryway that no other house in our development had - all because he built them. He saved the motor from every appliance that died. He was a good dancer, but gave up trying to teach me to dance because I always tried to lead. He loved Julie Andrews. "Gee she's pretty" he would say about her. He liked to tease the dog. He would fall asleep watching tv, but if you changed the channel, he would instantly wake up and say "I was watching that." He didn't cook much, but would grill himself hotdogs for lunch. Like every day. Once, when our dog was sick, he would come home to check on him - thinking we didn't know he was doing that. Such a softie. He couldn't deal with his daughters pouting or just being quietly sad. It was the easiest way to get him to do something you wanted that he had said no to earlier. He had a distinctive walk. I can still hear him coming down the hall. He used to stand with his feet pointing outward, arms crossed and he would rock on the balls of his feet. My cousins - his brother's sons - all do it too. It is weird when I see them doing it from behind because they look like him. He loved my mother. So much. He was proud of her accomplishments. I will never forget the day he came home from the hospital and told us she had cancer. He had trouble getting it out before he started to cry. He was man enough that he could cry in front of his children. I have to say we got our love of sports equally from Dad as from Mom. But it was Dad who would come out and play ball with us. "How about you let your old man take a shot?" he would say when we were out playing basketball. He liked to play golf - not that he was that good at it. He was a bit of a picky eater. Okay he was a really picky eater. One of the traits I got from him was the ability to know, without even tasting something, that I would hate it. But every once in a while he would try new things. He was religious. During Lent, he would walk from his office to church every day at lunch hour to go to Mass. When we were little, our parish had a 6 am Mass on weekdays during Lent. He would get us all up and every day we went with him. He was an honest man and an honorable man. I am so lucky to have been his daughter. I think he would have loved my husband. I can just see how the two of them would have tackled projects together. And he would have loved his grandchildren - teaching them to ride a bike, throw a ball - he would have doted on them. I like to think that he looks down on us and is proud of his family.