I especially think about my own father.
Shortly after my dad passed away people would tell me someday I would be able to think about him without sadness. They told me someday I would remember the good times and smile. Someday I would recall his sense of humor and laugh.
This is all true…most days. But there are still those days I hurt for our loss.
My heart still aches at the unfairness our dad was taken from us too soon. I feel the absence of his embrace and long for the feel of his whiskers on my cheek. I miss the way he would walk into the room and make everyone feel comfortable and happy in a remarkable way. I miss his wit and his ability to make people laugh without feeling laughed at. I miss the way in which he loved me…truly loved me without condition.
When he was in the hospital undergoing chemo we set up a webcam so he could watch the games from his hospital bed. Before my dad was sick he would sit on the hot metal bleachers with the sun blazing and sweat rolling down his cheeks. He would loudly exclaim “I sure picked the wrong day to wear my leather underwear.”
When Austin was a little guy I arrived at one of his games with my whole family already sitting in the stands and Austin in tears. Austin had mistakenly wore his cup without the special underwear and his cup was rubbing him raw. To make Austin laugh my dad yelled out to him on the field “Austin, did you remember to put the cup on in the front or in the back?”
He was the biggest fan of his family. Whether it was a dance recital, piano recital, talent show, drill team competition, basketball game, football game, triathlon or baseball game he was always present. He always put his family first. He postponed his admittance to the hospital for his chemotherapy treatment so he could watch his granddaughter sing a solo in her 5th grade talent show.
He would talk to little girls in the grocery store who were wearing the princess dress they wore for Halloween by saying “Oh my goodness. Don’t you look beautiful!?!” He made grocery clerks laugh when he closed his eyes and crossed his fingers as he waited for his credit card to clear saying “Please go through. Please go through.” When he was on the ventilator in the Intensive Care Unit the nurse told him his numbers were improving slightly and he could maybe have the ventilator removed. He pointed at my mom and gestured for hanky panky.
He loved his friends deeply, loved his family fiercely and loved his wife the most. He worked hard to not only put food on the table, but to create memories that have lasted a lifetime. He loaded gear in the car every Saturday to take his family snow skiing. He launched the boat every summer teaching countless kids and adults how to water ski. He ended his weekends with sore muscles from all of his DIY projects. He was firm with discipline, but generous with his love and affection.
On occasion, I still find myself feeling sorry at the unfairness of our loss. I sometimes feel robbed of the extra time I wanted with a wonderful man. But when I think of who he was, what he did for his family and the legacy he left, I feel lucky I had him for a father even if it were only for the briefest of time.