My dad has been gone a little more than 13 years.
There was no one like him. He loved me…no matter what. He supported me…no matter what. He always liked me and I miss his unconditional love, and the father-daughter bond we had.
I think of him every single day but today I found out my gal pal Kim lost her Daddy last week. And I thought of mine with Valentine’s day coming this week.
My Dad was quiet and stoic. An engineer by trade and career, he was very analytical and had a typical engineer’s personality. Her preferred to work with his hobby than to be in a group and was very introverted. He said to my mother one time that if she did not understand his silence she most certainly would not understand his words. Summed him up.
But he always let me know he was my ally no matter what. He let me know, from his heart, that he was proud of me.
And sincerely meant it.
He never criticized my weight or my clothes or my appearance. He never criticized my choice in dates (he probably should have…) never looked down on my career decisions or my path in life.
Dad was always the one behind the camera taking the pictures…out of the spotlight. Never sought to be in front of it. Kind of a metaphor…always behind the scene taking care of making us kids the center of his world.
He took me out in the country to catch butterflies for my collection. He took me to learn to shoot trap. He asked me to help him pick out his tuxedo for my wedding. He taught me to embroider when I was in bed with a ruptured appendix and told me that Grandma had taught him when he was sick in bed for 3 weeks when he was 12 years old.
He found Grandma’s jewelry and gave me pieces of it for my birthday for our legacy. I look just like her. He loved that and it pulled on his heart too…I am her twin.
When Alzheimer’s pushed him into a nursing home, we would sit for hours out on the patio and he would watch the jet trails in the sky, pointing to each one.
When he still had the ability to speak, he’d ask me where I thought “that one” was going. When the disease robbed him of his speech, he would simply point excitedly and smile. And now I watch for him in those jet trails as he visits me.
When we were in Ireland a couple of years ago, I got to shoot trap at a castle and there he was as I began, a jet trail across the sky in front of me. And as I completed my session, he was there again with another to tell me he was sharing in my thrill. I was moved to tears and could barely speak. I had not shot trap in 30 years but hit more than half my birds…even the guide said he was impressed. Thank you, Daddy…
Dad never one time criticized me or belittled me. He always told me that he supported me and if I found myself in a situation that was the result of a decision that was not the best that he would be there to help pull me out of the hole I found myself in.
And he did…
My Dad in our family was in the same boat as I was…neither one of us had a voice. t was not a great place to be but we were in it together. My mother was the one who ran the show. Poor Dad was told what to do and when to do it and most especially HOW to do it.
One time she threw me out of the house on the 4th of July because she didn’t like who I was dating at the time and since I had been drinking I could not drive. My girlfriend came to get me and let me stay there a couple of nights. When I went back after the holiday weekend to get my car and things and drive back home to Chicago 3+ hours away, I asked Dad why he didn’t stand up to her for me, he simply said, “I love you so very much but I have to wake up and live with her.”
I got it… I navigated those waters too. We were together in difficult times always. And so we remained the two who were bonded in the voiceless prison but accepting of each other with an unconditional love that still survives …
Each Valentine’s Day he would get me a small heart-shaped box filled with various candies from Fannie May. A couple of suckers, a couple of chocolates, a couple of other candies. I loved and waited for that heart-shaped box and he never came home without it.
I miss it still.
My daddy died at Christmas and a few weeks into January I went away to a teaching conference in Texas with still a heavy heart. I arrived home to my wonderful husband picking me up at the airport and when we arrived home, he was bubbling over with excitement.
He said my Valentine’s gift had arrived. Now my husband is like a kid with presents and I told him that if this was a move to get his early it was not going to work. He assured me it was not and asked me to get my glasses on to read something.
He opened a black velvet box that held a necklace with a circle on it that read DAD. The hubs said, “your dad was your first Valentine and this is your first Valentine’s day without him. I wanted to make sure you had him still.”
And there it was…as I turned it over from the side that read DAD, there was my Daddy’s thumbprint on a silver circle hanging on a chain. For me to wear close to my heart. My forever valentine with my other forever valentine presenting it to me. I could not be more blessed.
I love you Daddy and I miss you so much. So much…Thank you for your unconditional love. The cardinals still nest in the arbor for you every spring and the jet trails are in the sky reminding me you’re with me always.
Happy Valentine’s day…I’m in good hands <3