As a child I never pictured my life without my dad. That just didn't seem possible. I thought I'd watch him grow old, see him sitting on the porch in a rocking chair, playing his many instruments. I knew he would be an amazing Grandpa to my little ones. He loved the babies. Little did I know that only one of my children would get a short amount of time with him.
Dad was mostly a mystery to me growing up. He was quiet and sometimes quite grouchy. I knew certain things about him. He loved to read. (John Grisham books) He loved to hike. He loved going to plays and dressing up for them. He loved playing cards. (Shang-hi) He loved car rides on Sundays. He loved babies and would hold one every Sunday at church that he could. He loved his mom and would visit her often. He loved old movies - especially My Fair Lady. He loved all things World War 2. He loved basketball. He loved playing his harmonica, violin, viola, and later the flute. He loved art, sculpting, drawing, sketching, making jewelry. He loved Rock Hounding and learning about rocks, polishing rocks, collecting rocks. He loved music. He would sing all the time. ALL the time. I don't remember a time in the car, walking with him, working in the garden or around the house with him that he was not whistling or singing (unless a Jazz game was on ;) )
Dad was fairly quiet and enjoyed peaceful places. Napping under trees, sitting on a rock with his hands behind his head, walking. He liked peace. Contention would put him in a foul mood quickly. You can imaging how little quiet and peace he had raising 8 boys and 3 girls...
It wasn't until I was older that I realized just how wise my father was. He pondered on everything and questioned everything. He wanted to learn all he could. He didn't push his ideals on you, but would share his thoughts and opinions, then tell you "Hey, that's just my opinion, do whatever you want." I don't remember him really disciplining me much. Rarely did he say no to me. I admit being the youngest I was quite spoiled, and more surrounded with his time and love then some of my other siblings. There was only once that I wanted to go out to a late night party and he would not let me. I think that was probably more him listening to mom then anything. He rarely set a lot of rules and boundaries for me unless mom was telling him to. I think he knew that kids would end up doing whatever they wanted anyway. Which is a comment he made to me often - "don't listen to me, what do I know - you are going to do what you want anyway."
I remember one conversation I had when I felt like I finally found my dad...or understood him more. He sat down across from me at lunch and told me where he thought my life was headed at that time. And he wasn't far off. I had a lot of changing to do. He was all logic and not much feeling as he talked to me. But at the end, he shared with me some of his thoughts about life, and why he believed what he did. He shared with me how little he actually knew - but that much of what he did was based on the belief that there had to be something better, and all we could do to make the most of life was to find joy in the little moments, enjoy the happy fleeting times that came, and hold close to those we love. He let me know it was ok to question things and to ponder things, but to not let the fear hold me back. He hugged me as he always did then - more of the "feeling" dad I knew - and he told me he loved me - that he wanted the best for me. I found my dad this day. I knew that he too...had questions...wasn't always happy...struggled with similar things/questions as I did in life. I found that he wasn't perfect. He wasn't the person I'd always idolized. He had faults, he had uncertainties, he had moments of anger and depression, moments of not loving living this life. This made him more reachable to me. Finding Dad gave me so much more love for him.
There are these moments - especially lately, when I really need my dad. When I miss him so much I feel like a part of me is missing and empty. Like I'll never be whole again, never quite be me again. Moments when I really need to talk to him, to have him tell me his opinion then tell me to do whatever I'm going to do anyway. I miss him still. 9 years later, the pain is still there. Still tangible. It's just a little quieter now.
Happy Birthday Daddy! From your little girl with the pink radio.