I called you Daddy…’cause that’s what you were to me. The kind of Daddy who was there when I needed you after a bad dream, surprised me with Pez, Twinkies, and the “Big Box” of 64 Crayolas (with built-in sharpener!) in my school locker; worked hard to give me the best of everything; was always where he said he would be; and who made sure I learned good manners.
You were also the kind of Daddy who told me that I could and should be whatever I wanted to be. Not a lot of little girls heard that back then. It’s quite possibly the best gift that you ever gave me. Thank you.
As I drove through the night to be there before your spirit left your body, my mind leapfrogged from one memory to another. I gotta be honest, they weren’t all wonderful. But, each and every one an undeniable part of the messy patchwork of our lives. A smattering of the good ones:
eating ice cream cones while sitting on the sidewalk;
tossing rocks at a log from a bridge over the Des Plaines River;
giving me the Beatles first record the day it hit the stores;
pretending I didn’t see you (protectively) watch me Trick-or-Treat from your car;
driving my brother and me through a much less affluent neighborhood to show us just how fortunate we were;
handing me a cold Popsicle to soothe the space my baby front tooth used to fill;
teaching me to check the oil and water in my car;
and learning to appreciate Benny Goodman, Sinatra, Barbra Streisand, Duke Ellington, Nat King Cole. Charlie Parker, and too many other musical greats to mention.
Thank you for those precious, small moments, and the hard lessons along the way. Thank you for the time. You always gave me time. For some twisted reason, I always thought there would be more…time.
When you passed away this Labor Day, part of me wasn’t ready to let you leave. You’d been sick so long, and you wanted to go, but I never thought you’d really leave. However, as I’ve discovered, there’s a vast difference between anticipating a loss and actually realizing it.
If life truly is a box of chocolates, this piece is bittersweet.