Eighty {+ One}

August 8, 2010 would have been my dad's 80th birthday - had he lived a full life. Wow, that is hard to believe. As it is, he passed away, far too young, two days after my birthday and only one day after his own birthday.  I realize that I don't talk about my dad much. It's not for lack of thinking about him; it's just that - it really has been a lifetime.

The anniversary of his death quietly comes and goes each year on the tail end of my own birthday and I admit, I tend to not be the type to dwell on anniversaries of deaths. But the other night my son asked me questions about his grandfather and I owe it to him to record what few concrete memories I have left of my relationship with my own father.

The funny thing about memories is that as we grow and age our memories become memories. Those childhood memories I had are faded and blurred themselves; like a mist that I once walked through, dimly real, yet not tangible.

So what is left of that little girl's memories in this grown woman's body? Fragmented moments in time, like little chunks from an 8mm movie reel or a stack of well worn, much loved postcards capturing images of long ago... pieces of what was once.
  • My dad chasing me around and around the house until I was hysterical in laughter, giving him just enough to stop and hide then jump out to scare me with a "BOO!" only to finish with a hug.
  • He was a carpenter of sorts, he BUILT me a doll house, a play house and a sand box - I remember faintly going with him to a rock quarry to pick out the sand.
  • I remember how he took the time to fix up an old swing set, that came with the house my parents purchased, with red & white candy-cane stripes and new swings. I was very reluctant to let that swing set go when my mom updated it a few short years later and can even still see the monster-ish trash truck crunch and bend the candy-cane poles in it's large iron jaws.
  • I loved going to his appliance shop with him and playing with the neighbor kids behind the store, or playing hide-and-seek amongst the appliances.I sometimes wonder what happened to those kids.
  • He served in the Air Force and took pride in serving his country and I was so proud of him. I wanted to marry someone in the Air Force.
  • I loved having my birthday right next to his.
  • My dad loved children and children loved him. He was an only child and wanted a big family even though it wasn't meant to be. 
  • I found out later in my life that he went to school at night, studying to become a History Professor. He loved history and I now understand where Harrison and I both got the same love and curiosity for history.
  • I love that he loved my mom more than anything in this world and that he asked her to marry him the very night they met.
  • I'm thankful that when he swerved to miss a dog, but hit a tree on their honeymoon, God wasn't ready to take them home that day.
  • I love how my dad absolutely adored his in-laws and that they loved him like their own flesh and blood. My grandparents lived on a fairly nice sized parcel of land and offered to give our family a few acres to build and live on; but my mom didn't want to love deep in the hills of South Dakota. Sometimes I wonder where would the road have led had our family taken that route?
Fragments and pictures are all I have had for so long that as I read through this post - trying to express what is left of a little girl's experience with her father, I find my words here fragmented and disjointed. Albeit, I'm leaving them here because they are all a part of who that little girl became... of who I am today.

And I'm happy with that.

So no, I don't talk about my dad often, but do I think about my dad, I love him greatly, I miss him always, I wish he were here. I wish he could have met my prom date when I was a teen or attended my high school graduation, walked me down the isle on my wedding day or held his newborn grandson in his arms. I have wondered what my life had been like with my dad in it. What direction the road would have taken. But I don't dwell on those thoughts long.

I just don't.


Unknown said...

Oh, Rose. I'm so sorry, I can still hear how much you miss him after all of these years. I'm glad that Harrison got you to talk about him (and write about him) so you could remember those good times for a little bit.

Tracey said...

Tears in my eyes this morning. This was so special yet hard to read bc I dont want you to be a little girl without your dad. :( This made me want to call up my own and tell him I love him. And I absolutely love that bw photo. You must scan it and blow it up and hang it on your wall.
Big hugs for you....

Rose said...

Thank you Carrie and Tracey!

It was very important to get it down for prosperity's sake. So that Harrison has some history to turn to. I've written about my mom and my grandparents here in the early days of blogging; but never about my dad - it was long in coming.

I love that black and white picture too, even though the scan blew out the details. It actually sits in a little frame on my desk, so I see it daily now. (I left it there after scanning it oh so long ago!)

Tracey - call him! :)

Hugs to both of you!

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