Tuesday, March 3, 2015

happy birthday dad: memories of my father.

Today is my dad's birthday. I feel like writing "would be" his birthday, but that isn't true. It is his birthday, even more than seventeen years after he died. That hasn't changed... that won't change. It's an annual event, one that I always remember, because I know dates, I remember them, I don't forget them. It's a part of who I am.

I was ten when he died, almost eleven, at the end of August 1997. I think that when a person loses a parent as a child, everything changes. I know that, in my personal situation, I still had many supportive family members, I was fortunate enough to maintain an extremely close relationship with my dad's parents and his brothers, I got to see them all frequently. I went to a children's grief group for over a year. I went to counseling off and on through college.

It still left a hole in me. Maybe that's because my dad's death was so unexpected, or maybe it's because I was so young when he died. It could be a mix of both, or maybe other things. Maybe I will never know. I think that it's okay if I don't. I have grown enough to know that, as much as I miss my dad and wish that he had been here for my big milestones, I know that I have become who I am because of the things that I have been through in my life. I've grown and changed, become a stronger person because of it.

Anyways, this isn't about me. I want to share some stories about my dad, because, I am insanely grateful for the almost eleven years that I did have with him, because he was an involved father, because he was there... and a lot of kids don't even get that for the short time that I did.

So, here I go... memories of my dad:
  • One Christmas, maybe the last one, probably the last one, but I can't guarantee that, I stayed up all night wrapping gifts with him. We talked and I wrapped my brother's gifts, while he wrapped mine. It was a fun and something that I won't forget.
  • Cody, my dad, and I used to play games all of the time. A few of our favorites were Connect Four, Monopoly, and Don't Wake Daddy. Sometimes, when we played Don't Wake Daddy, we each played with two characters, so we each took two turns. We all had nicknames for our second character, an alter ego. My dad's was "Butch the evil twin."
  • My dad introduced my to LeAnn Rimes, who was my first favorite singer. I was young. I connected to the fact that she was also very young.
  • We used to play several different sports together, often involving my grandma. We played basketball a lot, the four of us. I remember laughing about the "Nana Waddle" together.
  • One day, I was really mad at my dad for some reason, and I was sitting on my grandma's front porch. My dad came and sat next to me.. and a bird pooped on his leg. It was hilarious. I couldn't be angry anymore.
  • My brother and I used to run from the kitchen to the living room at my grandparents' house, while my dad and uncle would shoot nerf guns at us. They called it "target practice."
  • We would spend a lot of time at the lake, swimming, fishing, tubing. Those were such awesome days.
  • My dad was a scuba diver. He used to go on trips to the Bahamas with my grandpa.. I remember dreaming about the day when I would become scuba certified. I still dream about it. Hopefully, I will get it done within the next year.
  • I remember when I was learning to dive in my swimming class. I was so excited that I was practicing at the lake. Everybody else was inside eating and playing games. I remember my dad coming out to watch and I told him that I was going to be an Olympic diver one day. He pretended to believe me. (haha, I'm a dreamer.)
  • One Christmas, he bought Cody and me a Super Nintendo. It was our first video game console and we loved it. We'd play basketball, football, Mario, Donkey Kong... I still have the console and some of the games. (obviously, my brother also got some games.)
  • When Cody and I would argue, he would make us sit on the couch and hold hands until we could get along again... then, he bought us both boxing gloves and would tell us to "duke it out."
  • I remember the cherry tree that he had in the backyard. It was awesome for climbing.

The following is part of a conversation that I recorded on my talk girl, when I thought that I was going to be a big time news reporter:
me: hello, I'm here. in Indiana. to say 'who won this game'?
dad: the raiders.
me: are you the coach of the raiders?
dad: yes.
me: did you know you were going to win in the beginning?
dad: in the beginning, we was getting the shit kicked out of us.
me: oh. so you thought you were going lose?
dad: yeah, I thought I was going to lose, it was like 28-9.
me: oh my gosh, it must have been a HUGE comeback.
dad: yeah, I took my players into the locker room and then whipped each one of their asses individually.
me: with the paddle with holes in it?
dad: yes.
me: okay. well, the other coach doesn't really want to talk. (my dad cracks up.) so goodbye.
So, today is my dad's birthday. Sure, it's sad, and it's hard, and I miss him...
At the same time, I'm thankful for the time that I had. Some kids don't get that many years with their dads. Some kids get no time, or some kids don't have a dad who wants to be in their lives at all. I did. That's everything.
Happy birthday Dad.
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