Related Content from And There Came A Day
Six years ago today, my father passed away.
Love you, Dad.
My family – my mother and The Cinnamon Girl and me and our kids and my sisters and their kids (all the kids who can make it as most of them are not really kids anymore) – have taken an annual trip to the Colorado mountains for many years. We rarely miss a year, to the tune of only 1 or 2 in the past 20. In fact, Dad took this very mountain trip less than two weeks before he died.
It is kind of a big deal.
This year’s excursion was last week and, as we do quite often, we got to talking about Dad. It was joyous talk, fun talk, irreverent talk. It was kind of like him: laughing, smiling and saying things just a little off color, a little edgy.
At one point (and, perhaps, I was a few “pops” into my evening) I unleashed what I thought was a killer impression of Dad. It was like most impressions: not too realistic, broadly comic and capturing only a caricature. I am pretty sure I would not have shared it had Mom been in the room, but she was asleep and it was not mean spirited. It was funny and it brought the proverbial house down. I repeated it a few times to more laughs but then I realized it was so spot on it was making my youngest nephew sad. Whether it was because he missed his grandpa or because he thought it was mean, I do not know. But, thinking about my nephew today made me realize something else: that my kids and nieces and nephews know only a piece of what they are missing.
I got to have Dad for 41 years, my older sister for, well, more and my younger sister for, well, less (I am not going to reveal their relative ages!). The kids barely got him for 10 years they actually remember… the littlest boys for less than that.
So, in thinking about them, I decided this year to put a bit of the eulogy I wrote to work in remembrance of, not just Dad, but his relationship with his grandkids.
“Our kids all love their grandpa. But they simply cannot understand right now how much he loved them. His youngest grandson will be told it was Dad who just a few short weeks ago went to get him his first bike. Maybe we’ll even remind him of the time he locked his poor Grandpa in the shed. And laughed. His brother will remember Grandpa in his Rockies jacket sitting on the stands at his t-ball games. Every time my goddaughter gets dressed up for a party, she’ll probably hear Grandpa asking “what costume do you have on today?” My daughter may not have loved it when Dad would pick up a flashlight, turn it on, hold it to her ear and pretend the light showed right through from one side of her head to the other with no brain to block it, but I bet she’ll miss him doing it. My oldest niece should know that every goal she scored on the soccer pitch really pleased her grandpa – he loved how tough she was, he was especially proud of her the day she accidentally broke another little girl’s arm. That was the residual North Denver tough in him I think. When my son got an X-Box, Dad drove him crazy saying to him: “X-Box? Who cares? I have a Z-Box” and you would have loved their arguments over the Wii video game system. Dad insisted on calling the Wii a “They.” My stepson first met Dad about five years ago on Halloween when Dad was completely dressed up as Captain Jack Sparrow… that, by-the-way, was quite a sight, Dad really sold out for it. When my stepson saw Dad again a few weeks later and noted that Dad still had a protruding stomach, he was surprised. He thought that was part of the costume. Who could blame him?
It is hard for us all to believe that we were on our Annual Family Mountain Trip up in Breckenridge two and a half weeks ago, sitting with Dad, teasing him, sharing meals, sharing our stories, panicking as the power went out because of his oxygen, watching movies he loved like The Sandlot and The Natural. It was so important to him to go on that trip. So important to spend time with his grandkids. So important that they knew how much he loved them. Guys, you all know that Grandpa would do anything for you, right? You know that he did so much for you.
Just as he has done for me and my sisters throughout our lives.”