Tag Archives: Dad

Dad Was A Grandpa, Too : Six Years Later…


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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.

519.jpgI 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.”

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He Called Me “My Man”


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Dad SunlightMy father, who was a permanent deacon for over 25 years and who died five years ago today, would have said of the Pope and the Church studying the history around a women’s diaconate:  “Of course women should be deacons. Should have happened forever ago. You’re going to study it now? Just do it. It’s the right thing. S#!t or get off the pot.”

He had a way with words.

Seems to me that, when someone has died, people have a tendency to say “Man, what would grandma have said about this?” or “Uncle Jake sure wouldn’t have believed this, would he?”

As I considered Dad today it occurred to me that, in all my reminiscences and thoughts about him, one thing I rarely (if ever) do is wonder what he would have thought about something.

I might say I’m wondering about it. I might venture  “What would Dad have thought of Donald Trump?” I might ask “What do you think Dad would say about the Rockies this year?” I might offer aloud “Would Dad have liked where the kids decided to go to college?”

There are a great many things I admired about my father. I’ve written about them pretty extensively in the years since he died (in a eulogy, on Fathers Days, on these anniversaries). One of the things I admired most about him, and it’s something I appreciate more on reflection than I did in the day-to-day moments of living with him, is how straightforward he was.

I don’t mean to suggest that Dad constantly shared his opinions on any and every subject with any and everyone who would listen. Quite the contrary. My father could be very quiet. He could be reserved. He didn’t need to always be the center of attention though he liked attention when it came his way.

Dad was quiet and still with those he didn’t know well. He could be amazingly quiet, actually. Some equated his silence with wisdom and, wise as he was, he was pleased to let people consider him something of a sage.

He was something of a sage, though when the sage is your Dad, you know more about him. His family got to experience a little more than the silent treatment.

Dad and Family

With family and close friends, Dad wasn’t always quiet and he didn’t spend a lot of time hiding his emotions. When something bothered or delighted him, the reaction would color his face, change his expression. When he believed something, he would say it. When he was pleased, he would laugh, annoyed, he would say why, angry, he would emote. When he thought someone or something foolish, he would tell you why. He would tell you in no uncertain terms.

The older I get, the more I admire him for this.

So I don’t wonder what Dad would have thought about too many things that have happened since he’s been gone.

I know.

I can hear his voice in my head, and his comments always start with “My man,” which is what he would call me at the most serious junctures of my growing up, when I had made errors, when I took the risk of a new job about which he was skeptical, when I told him about The Cinnamon Girl, the woman I would marry.

“My man, we’ve got a lot to talk about,” he said one night when I came in well after curfew. The summer following that night was a long one.

“My man, I hope they don’t screw you,” he said when I took a new position. Spoiler alert: I got screwed (at least I think I did).

“My man, you make each other happy,” he said of my impending marriage and it wasn’t an observation, it was a directive.

Though I hear his voice in my head, though I know what he might say on a great many topics (Trump and the Rockies and his grand kids), it would be quite nice to hear him say it one more time.

“My man,” he would say…

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Anniversary Photos – Mom & Dad


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51 years ago today, my parents married marking another chapter in their ongoing love story and, though he died almost five years ago, their love story goes on…

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Remembering Dad on Father’s Day



We ought not need special days to remember our dads, right? But it’s nice to have this one every year nonetheless. I’ve written of my father before and I will again. I’ve talked about the man he was, the man I perceive he made me, and the man I miss to this day. I’ve written of his humor and his passion, his love and his life. I’ve written of what he meant to others and what he still means to me.

 

On this Father’s Day, 2016, I am aware of something I’ve rarely considered: not everyone feels about their father the same way I do. Not everyone had a dad who, though not perfect, cared about him, loved him, support him and made his life possible. Not everyone had a dad who connected with him, advised him and taught him how to be a man.

Not everyone is as lucky as I am.

In my father, I was very lucky, indeed.

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Dad’s Birthday – 2016


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Today is my father’s birthday. I often struggle with the euphemisms we use for those who have died. What’s the right term when talking about someone who is no longer with us (see, there’s one right there).

I learned many, many things from my dad (more on that later this week), and of them was to not be too sentimental about death. In his work as a Permanent Deacon in the Catholic Church, he dealt with death on a regular basis and, even as he was facing his own death, I believe he saw and understood that our focus should not be on death, but on what comes next – eternal life. That was the power of his understanding of his faith.

So, Dad wouldn’t mess around with gentle terms when speaking of death and, if he spoke of death euphemistically, he normally did so with a healthy dose of humor.

However, today, on his birthday, a word hit me that perfect sums up how I feel about my Dad’s death: away.

When we get together for family gatherings, Dad is not there, but there still. When I would turn to him for advice, I can’t call him, but I do hear him. When I feel a need for his support, he’s not giving me words of encouragement, but I feel those words, always.

Dad’s not here for his birthday today. He is simply away.

I really like the sound of that.

Happy Birthday, Dad.

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My Dad And My Guitar


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My dad was addicted (in a good way) to sharing his talents. Perhaps addicted is not the best word. Rather, I should write compelled. He was compelled to assist. Compelled to help. He shared himself with people he barely knew, with people he’s just met, with people he knew well, with people at church and, more importantly, with his family.

Dad and MeI’ve written accounts of Dad doing this many times before.

This is not one of those stories.

This is the story of the 12-string guitar I purchased for myself almost 10 years ago now, right after I got divorced. I don’t know what made me want a 12-string or why I thought I could handle such an instrument then – I really can’t all that well almost a decade later – but I got it in my head that I wanted it, I got it from amazon (naturally) and got right to playing it when it arrived at the door of my condo one afternoon.

It was a “Stellar” brand guitar, not a “Stella” brand, meaning it is a rip off, but that was okay. Post-divorce, the fact that it was a knock off is why I could afford it. It was cheap.

The guitar had a very nice sound and, because it was a 12-string, it made me sound like I knew more about playing than I actually did. It also had a built-in pickup meaning it didn’t need to be mic’ed, just plugged into a sound system or amp. That was also very cool.

One day at church – during a mass at which my dad, a deacon, was on the altar – I dropped the guitar and the instrument cable which was plugged into the pickup rammed its way into the guitar itself. The wood on the base of the guitar splintered and popped and the input mechanism (about 3 inches wide and three inches deep) ended up inside the guitar floating loosely, jostled from its mounting by the force of the drop.

The Stellar was trashed. That’s what I thought.

Stellar.

Dad told me to bring it home to my parents’ house after mass and asked me if I wanted him to try to fix it.

I was skeptical. I’d seen him fix many-a-thing before. I’d even been pressed into service to help him. A light switch, he could fix. An underground sprinkler? Sure. My guitar?

“It’s broken now. What are you going to do? Use it as firewood?” He said.

Good point.

We unstrung the guitar and he got out his tools and his glasses, the ones he had that lit up at the temples so he could shine light on whatever he was working on. He grabbed a drill and pulled out a round rubber disc from somewhere in his toolbox, a circle the size of a half-dollar and about an eighth of an inch thick. And he got to work.

Of course you know where this story is going. Dad fixed the guitar and I still play it today. He fixed it with skill I didn’t possess and with confidence I didn’t have. He remounted the pickup, drilled a new hole for the instrument cable input and patched the splintered hole in the side of the guitar with the rubber disc.

The rubber disc... you can still see the crack from the guitar's fall.

The rubber disc… you can still see the crack from the guitar’s fall.

I think of Dad every time open the case, strap on the guitar and plug an instrument cable in. The guitar has become a physical reminder of Dad’s presence in my life.

Today marks four years since Dad died. Four years really fly by, don’t they? Moment-by-moment, time may seem to be ticking quite slowly, but when you hit a day such as one like this – a day where a flag has been forever planted – there’s a cold-water splash in the face about just how quickly time moves on.

In recent days, I’ve been talking with family and friends about Dad as my parents’ anniversary was last week (it was their 50th) and I’ve said more than once “I think about him every day”.

And I don’t just think about what he would have said (although I hear his voice in my head quite often) or what he would have done (although, every time I am confronted with a household task or a car issue, he’s very much around), I am reminded of Dad by what he did say or things he did do.

Like the simple act of fixing my guitar.

I can’t imagine all the other things he fixed in his lifetime. I can imagine how much better the world is that he shared himself with it.

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My Parents’ Anniversary – August 7, 1965

When my father passed away almost four years ago, I was humbled to deliver his eulogy. In those comments, words that can never sum up who he was, I mentioned something I found important: my dad and mom had lived a love story.

Today marks the 50th anniversary of their marriage and it’s a time to celebrate their journey together – some of the blessings of which are in me and my sisters, our spouses and our children, to celebrate the testament of their lives together and, finally, to celebrate their love.

True love never dies,

It only gets stronger with time…

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