Tuesday, February 24, 2015
Rest In Peace, Dad
My dad died on February 14, 2015. I'm not sure how I feel about this. I'm sad that he's gone and won't ever meet Emily. That he won't be able to skype with us anymore. I'm sad because he's known me my whole life and he loved me. In his own, complicated, strange way, he loved me. And it wasn't until these last few years that I actually got 'it'. That I figured him out.
As a kid, I thought my dad was amazing. He was so capable, so able. He built things with his own two hands. He fixed things. He installed a swimming pool, chopped wood, put in a drop ceiling in our basement, built a deck (on the second story of our house!). And he was amazing. And sweaty. He had this sweat band, it was basically a sponge on an elastic band, that he would wear and occasionally take it off and squeeze the sweat out. It was so gross and really remarkable. He was a hard worker and yet he knew how to relax too.
It was about middle school when he started making decisions about his health that were obviously wrong. When the doctors told him to stop eating meat, drinking alcohol, smoking, he argued that it wasn't the way he wanted to live. I felt betrayed by these decisions or non-decisions to improve his health. But he wasn't the kind of guy you could win arguments with, and I would know. I tried terribly.
My Dad and I battled a lot. About everything. Everything. BUT when we agreed, the world shined brighter. When he approved of something I did, when I made him proud I was blissfully happy. He was a difficult guy to love but oh I sought his approval in everything I did, even when I knew he wouldn't approve, I still remained hopeful.
But it wasn't until these last few years that I started to understand my dad. He worried endlessly. And he was surprisingly sensitive. He had a terrible way of showing it, which was to build up 'walls' to protect his feelings. He would make caustic remarks to hide his hurt feelings or sensitivity, never mind that he was hurting other people's feelings. But he was sensitive. I wish I knew that or could have seen that 15 years ago.
He seemed to love babies, which was something so surprising to me. After all, he was a big burly hard working, heavy sweating man. But when he was around kids he would do these silly things. He would talk like Donald Duck. He could make these silly faces and wave his hand that mimicked a baby. It was sweet. And the way he looked at little kids, the way he watched them you could tell he just adored them. Of course I don't think he'd ever admit to that for fear of appearing soft but he did. I can remember him bouncing me on my bed like a basketball some nights before bedtime, just laughing and bouncing and laughing!
Where that guy went, I don't know. His physical decline over the last 10 years has been frustrating. It's been sad to watch. It's been hard to understand how a body so capable, so able to do so many things was suddenly unable to cut a tomato (the man LOVED tomatoes). It has been difficult emotionally because he didn't seem to care. He didn't try to change himself, he just understood this was the way it was. And that was just him.
I'm thankful my Dad got to see me as an adult. I think he was proud of the woman I'd become. I am grateful he got to meet Nolan and that he was part of my children's lives through the computer and through this blog. I'm sad that he's gone but also thankful. Thankful that he was as much a part of my life as he could be. Thankful that he loved me the way he did. Thankful for the dad he was. Thankful that his suffering is over. Rest In Peace, Dad.