Saturday, November 04, 2006

Remembering Dad

Three years ago today, my dad was out on a four wheeler scouting hunting spots, had a massive heart attack, and was gone. I still have a hard time wrapping my brain around it. Something will happen, or I'll read something, and think I need to call Dad and tell him about that, and it's like a bad surprise all over again.

My father and I had a rather unusual relationship, given that I did not grow up knowing him. He and my mother divorced when I was a baby. Circumstances were what they were (I get stories from both sides, so I've had to piece together what I think probably happened), and I was raised with a stepfather instead of my father.

Shortly after I married, a cousin on my dad's side asked if I would like to contact him. I sent him a letter, he sent one back, and my husband and I made arrangements to meet him. He was living in Las Vegas. We got tickets for Labor Day weekend. There were some glitches with the flight, and we ended up taking an earlier one. Meanwhile, the flight we were supposed to be on had been delayed. So Dad was at the airport thinking he had another hour and a half to wait, and he was already nervous. The airport was packed because of the three day weekend and all the people who had flown in eager to lose their money. But hubby spotted my dad, who was on the way to the pay phone to call a buddy to come help him wait. (Did I mention he was nervous?) We hadn't seen pictures of him, but I'd sent him pictures of us, and he had told me to look for someone who resembled my brother. I wasn't sure it was him, so I asked hubby to sneak up behind and see if it said "Dave" on his belt. Sure enough, his belt ratted him out. He hadn't told me he had a belt with his name on it, but somehow, I knew it.

I missed out on growing up with my dad, but when we did meet, we didn't have all the growing up baggage, teenage angst, the "I hate you" fights, so we just got to be friends. He was there when my kids were born, we went to family reunions together, I was there when he married my wicked stepmother (no, she's not really, that's actually a term of endearment). He cracked up my kids with his grandpa-isms. We had fun.

Three years ago, I walked into the chapel holding his cowboy boots and said goodbye. I will never stop missing him. But I know for sure that the last thing I said to him was, "I love you, Dad." Damn straight.


Anonymous Charli/Mrs. H said...

What a beautiful story, so glad you found your dad before he was gone. Mike's wife just found her birthparents and it has been very emotional but also very good.

12:58 PM  
Blogger Mom Thumb said...

charli - I really was lucky to have the time that I did with him. Funny, though, he was a big talker, and it was quite amusing watching him have a conversation with Bill. I'm sure you can imagine!

3:04 PM  
Blogger Harmonica Man said...

I agree, what a great story - thank you for sharing it.

I like the way you phrased your comment here - "...watching him have a conversation with Bill." Something tells me that would have been your only option.

4:05 PM  
Blogger Heather said...

Wow. What a bittersweet story. My SIL had fallen out with her father for many years, but when she got married they started to talk again. He died shortly after her first child was born.

She too, is happy that she had that time with him. These stories really reinforce that those who hold grudges might be better off letting those grudges go. Time is such a fleeting thing.

6:47 PM  
Blogger Mom Thumb said...

H-man - it definitely was a spectator sport. Curtis was about 9 at the time and his comment was "Mommy, Grandpa and Bill are talking about different things and neither one of them knows it."

Heather - grudges are absolutely not the way to go. My brother wouldn't have anything to do with my dad, but his daughter wanted to meet him. I was going to take her, but she never got the chance to meet her grandpa. Sad.

7:59 AM  
Anonymous Di said...

Wow, Linda...I am so impressed with your writing. This story brought tears to my eyes. Mandy is trying so hard for Hailee not to have to go through all that in the future. Sometimes i wonder how she does it (deal with her ex) but she is making sure that hailee knows her father.

12:27 PM  
Anonymous L said...

I agree with Charli--and Jeff---what a bautiful story--and thank you for sharing it. I have said "Thank you, God", many many times, for my wonderful parents. It would be so nice if everyone could be raised like I was, in a happy, loving home. I'm so happy for you that you got to be with your Dad, before it was too late!!!!

6:32 PM  
Anonymous Lois said...

P.S. The computer didn't print my name!!!All it says is "l said" in stead of "Lois". Just wanted you to know!!

6:35 PM  
Blogger Mom Thumb said...

lois - being raised in a loving, happy home may be the reason that you are the way you are. But I think that you are secretly an angel. You just hide your wings. ;-)

6:53 PM  
Anonymous Jess said...

Grandpa's watching over you, Mom. His love is always with you. I miss him, too, but at least he's home.

7:02 PM  
Anonymous Lois said...

Linda--you are WAY too kind!!!!

8:49 PM  
Blogger Mooselet said...

What a lovely story. My own father, who was there physically when I was growing up if not always emotionally due to his alcoholism, died 11 years ago. For the last several years of his life he was able to tame his addiction, and he was quite proud of the fact that he was able to stay sober up until the end.

I do miss him, though, and I think he would've enjoyed his grandchildren.

10:21 PM  

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