So I haven’t posted here in quite some time. On May 31 my dad passed away suddenly from a heart attack. I am still struggling to cope with it. Yesterday was my first Father’s Day without him. I was going to write this post yesterday, but then decided it would be too difficult. So instead I stupidly decided to write it today while at work. I have been slowly writing this all day. Having to keep stopping because I don’t want to break down in my cubicle. This post is not meant to be sad, even though that is how I am feeling at the moment. This post is meant to honor the memory of the most amazing dad anyone could have ever asked for.
My dad was born in 1947. Truman was president, the Yankees beat the Brooklyn Dodgers in the first televised World Series, the first news show Meet the Press debuted on TV, the movie Miracle on 34th Street was released, Frankie Lane and Glenn Miller were topping the charts and the microwave oven was invented. My grandmother was from England and she met my grandfather in the U.S., he had a mixed background. They settled up in New Jersey.
My dad was the middle child of two sisters. As a kid, his weight fluctuated, as did ours. He never really talked about his childhood too much. The one thing my parents always talk about was how when they were little, things were different. Kids could leave the house in the morning and not come back until the street lights turned on at night and no one was ever worried about them. There was no threat of being abducted, streets were safe and you knew your neighbors. There was no such things as computers or cell phones or even the internet!
My grandfather passed away when my dad was only 15 years old. My dad became the man of the house and looked after his mom and two sisters. After my father graduated high school he decided to going the Army. The Vietnam War was going on at the time.
My dad didn’t go into too much detail about his time in the service. He went to boot camp and after was sent to Korea to be a helicopter mechanic. To this day I am thankful for that. He never wanted to visit the Vietnam Memorial because almost all the guys in his squad that were sent to Vietnam didn’t make it home. The army was also where my dad started smoking. Watching shows now like Mad Men and MASH I know that back then that is what everyone did and no one knew the problems it would cause later on in life. When my dad got back from the war he went to Aeronautics School to become a certified mechanic.
My parents didn’t start dating until my dad got back from overseas. Before he left he was actually dating one of my mom’s friends. My mom was actually really good friends with my dad’s younger sister (my aunt). The story of how they started dating is a weird one. My mom was dating this guy and my dad was dating this girl. Well each of the people they were dating cheated on them with the other. So my mom and dad decided (not sure if it was out of spite or not) to start dating each other. The two people that cheated on them actually got married and my mom was in their wedding! Nowadays who knows how that kind of situation would have played out.
My parents were adorable when they were young weren’t they? I envy my mom’s skinny frame. The fashions back then! I wish my mom had kept some of her old clothes.
My parents got married in 1975. Now thinking about it I don’t even know how my dad proposed! I need to ask my mom that soon.
My parents didn’t have kids for 10 years after they got married and I think that is amazing. I mean they were young when they got married anyway (my mom 21 and my dad 28) and I always think people need a few years to be married. They got to travel and do a lot of things just the two of them. My dad didn’t want kids but my mom told him either they had kids or she was done. In 1985 my sister and I (to my parents surprise) were born. They thought we were going to be a 13 pound boy!
My parents work schedule helped when were were born. My dad was working nights so he was home with us during the day and my mom worked days so she had us at night.
I am so glad my dad loved to take pictures as much as I do. I don’t know what I would do if I didn’t have all these photos of us growing up since I certainly don’t remember it!
These are my two all time favorite pictures with my dad. He always seemed like he was stern, but he was a big teddy bear when it came to us. With my dad home with us during the day we got to go on a lot of adventures. He would take us to carnivals and amusement parks. Once he even took us hunting. He dressed us up in bright orange and told us to run through a field so the pheasant would fly up for him. My mom was not happy about that…not happy is putting it lightly haha
We also went on a lot of vacations, and not your typical vacations either. My dad made sure we knew about history. We would go down south, but not just for the beach. We would also go to Colonial Williamsburg. We even went to Florida a few times to Disney, but if we were in Florida we also had to go to NASA. My dad didn’t fly, which was weird because he was an airplane mechanic. My dad didn’t fly because you couldn’t smoke on airplanes. Nuts right! So when we traveled we either drove or went by sea. My dad’s favorite vacation was taking cruises. We took 2 when I was younger. One to Bermuda and one to the Bahamas. Those were great trips I remember a lot about all the vacations we took as kids.
My dad was quirky. If we wanted something he always tried his best to make sure we got it, in his way. He loved to surprise us, even if we didn’t haha. In high school after we got our license we wanted a car. My dad said no at first then one day showed up with a new car. It might not have been exactly what we wanted, but that car lasted us FOREVER. I mean it I only bought a new car 3 years ago when our old one finally fell apart. My dad never went to college and my mom did night school to get her degree so he was so proud of us when we got into college.
After college we decided to move back home. The year after I moved out with my friend for a year, but that flopped so I moved back home again. Now I am so glad I lived at home. I got to see my dad every single day and have him in my life as much as possible.
My dad loved that we ran too. Whenever we got home from a race he already knew our race results because he had been tracking us during it to see how we were doing. He didn’t always like going to stuff like that, but it was the little things I knew that he did that made me smile.
Cheryl and I decided we wanted to repay our parents for all that they did for us. In 2011 we took our mom to Europe. We saved money for a year so that we could treat her. We tried to convince our dad to go with us, but he said no. Last year we decided he needed a trip too. We booked an amazing week long cruise to Bermuda. Because cruise ships no longer allow smoking, we hand’t gone on a cruise in years. I found out though that balcony rooms you could smoke outside. We got two balcony rooms and had the trip of a lifetime. My dad loved it, sitting on his balcony reading. He always talked about it and how he wanted to go on another one.
Words really cannot express how much I miss my dad. He was my rock. He taught me so much…how to swim, how to build things and use tools, how to fish and just how to be me. He always made sure we were true to ourselves and he made sure we knew how to be independent and not have to rely on other people. My dad was taken from us too soon. He passed away of a heart attack at the age of 65.
On Friday Cheryl and I decided we wanted to get tattoos. I have always been intrigued by the idea of a tattoo but never had anything I wanted to get permanently on my body. Cheryl had an old card from my dad and we used that for the tattoo.
Our old friend Mike did it for us and I think it came out amazing. It is exactly his handwriting and now I have a little piece of my dad with me everywhere I go. I know if he was alive he would have HATED that we got tattoos, but this is the way I want to honor him.
Loosing a parent is not easy and I know I am not the only one who has ever gone through it. For the first few days I couldn’t turn my mind off. Going through the what ifs and the anger for not having been able to do all the things I wanted to do with him. I looked it up online and I am pretty sure I coasted through every stage of grief. I am still sad. I think a little piece of me will always be sad. I still find myself crying at things, but I know eventually the hurt will fade and I will be able to remember my dad with just happiness.
One thing that helps is having amazing family and friends who have been with us through this whole ordeal. I really don’t know what I would have done without them <3