exactly that

Happy Birthday, Daddy

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My dad worked nights and slept most of the day, on the couch in the living room.  He would sleep for a good chunk of the day and take us to Grammy’s cabin around lunch time so we could swim in Monocle Lake.  He would snore very lightly about 30 minutes before he was about to wake up, and about five minutes before he woke up he would make this awful grunt-like noise that turned out to be him grinding his teeth.

My brother and I used to take turns seeing how many times we could tap him on the nose before he woke up.  I think the highest either of us ever got was five.

He was always quiet.  He didn’t talk a lot, but he always listened.  After Papa Joe died he was quieter.  He still was a good listener, though.  He also took over driving the pontoon after dinner at sunset after Papa passed away.  He wore flannel shirts all winter and someone decided that he should be buried in one, too.  I was upset that no one included me in that decision, at 19, but after I wasn’t angry at him for dying anymore or angry with the really old reverend who performed the funeral for mixing him up with my Papa Joe, I agreed he would have liked that.

At 43 he still didn’t do his own laundry or pay his own bills.  When we would get Christmas presents from him that were too big he always laughed and told us not to worry, that Aunt Suzy could shrink it for us.  He always had Pecan Sandies in the cupboard and butter pecan ice cream in the freezer, which I thought tasted like celery, but we ate it together anyway.

When I was nine, even though they couldn’t stand to be in the same room together he and my Mom sat me down and told me together that I was adopted by him.  It didn’t change a thing between us.  I think I loved him more for that.

He might not have been anyone’s idea of the perfect parent.  Maude knows I have heard plenty of bad things about him in my life, but he was my Dad, and I loved him, and I had no delusions about him.  Well, maybe a few, but in the end I am glad that I have those to hold on to.  Sometimes I will take a pretty lie over an ugly truth because it means I don’t have to cry as hard.  He was three times the father he had to be to me, and even when I was busy working and going to school and couldn’t come home to visit as often as I wanted he was never too busy with his life to call me regularly.  He loved me and was never too busy to tell me.

I never got to say good-bye.  When he died it tore a hole wide open in me that never healed.  I often find myself wanting to call him when I am really excited or really hurting…

There is a Dead Dad’s Club.  You can’t be in it until you are in it, and the dues are too high and membership benefits suck.

Happy Birthday, Daddy.


Comments on: "Happy Birthday, Daddy" (2)

  1. your right the dues is too high.
    thinking of you here in the past and hope the future is bright for us all

  2. I’m in that club too, and I know how much it sucks. I still want to pick up the phone and call my dad sometimes, and it hurts when I remember that I can’t. Also didn’t get to say goodbye, he just didn’t wake up one morning… Sometimes I wish I had done some things differently, gotten to know him better. I wish he could have walked me down the aisle. I wish he could see his beautiful grandchildren, and that they could get to know their Grampy.
    Hold on to the memories and share them. My oldest kiddo recently asked me “Who’s your dad, mama?” as we were talking about familes and relationships. We looked at pictures and I told her some of my memories.

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