April 7, 2011
Yesterday was a hard day for me. It was the one year anniversary of my Dad's death. While I'm so happy he is in Heaven with God our Father, I miss him so much.
It's been hard over the last year to have any other memories of my Dad other than the last year of his life which was filled with so many health issues, the worst one being the diagnosis of lung cancer.
Cancer tried to rob him of his vitality, his humor, his strength, his patience. It did not succeed. So when you read that a person lost their fight to cancer, my Dad did NOT lose that fight. He fought all the way. Even during the times when he had to have help eating, drinking and other normal functions, my Dad never lost his sense of himself as the Dad, the Husband, the Father and Grandfather he was to all of his family. He reminded all of us we were to take care of Mom. That was always his concern.
But I am Daddy’s girl, I grew up watching him shave in the mornings, I can still smell the Barbasol soap he used. I helped him with every building project we ever did in all the houses we lived in, from decks, to screened in porches. When I was grown up and married, he came and helped us with our decks and new rooms too.
When I was 8 years old I laughed hilariously watching him chase a mouse throughout the old farm house we lived in. He fell down laughing too on the winding staircase when he watched that same mouse hop up those stairs!
He taught me to drive, how to change the oil and the tires. He taught me how to tie a rope, Navy style, how to play golf even though I was left handed and he was right handed. He jumped up and down so excited for me when I “shot the green” the very first time I played a real game. We loved watching John Wayne movies together.
He calmed my fears when I had a horrible nightmare that I can still remember to this day and I was only 6 years old. He explained to me about death and dying when an elderly man collapsed during Mass one Sunday and died and I thought it was unfair to happen when you were doing your Sunday duty. He told me it was a beautiful place and time to give your life up to God.
He showed me strength of character when people were nasty to him, disagreed with him hatefully and he would still smile and shake their hands.
He showed me how to have courage when speaking in front of others and I can now cantor and sing in front of anybody in church or meetings because he taught me everything he learned in all the Dale Carnegie courses he took to help him make speeches.
He let me help him quit smoking cold turkey even when it was a battle of wits; his withdrawal symptoms and my hard headed determination to make him quit.
He let me calm his fear when he woke up early from the anesthesia after triple bypass surgery with the breathing tube still in his throat and he grabbed my hand and looked to my face for reassurance that he was okay. Then just weeks later he would totally impress me with his courage to do a cannonball into the hotel swimming pool when we took him and mom with us to Florida.
We were scotch buddies, golf games on television buddies – go Arnold Palmer, Jack Nicholson and Phil Michelson!
We even went shooting together with my brother, Rob. Dad called me “dead eye” and got a kick seeing me get a “kick” every time Rob handed me a gun with a little extra gunpower in the shell!
He was proud of my choice for a husband, and my three wonderful children, and of my singing in church. He would have been proud to know I sang for his funeral too, his favorite songs, Amazing Grace, How Great Thou Art and Hail Mary Gentle Woman.
He marveled at the dishcloths I crocheted while sitting with him and mom in the doctors’ offices and hospital rooms as well as my increasing knitting ability as I began to make My Paw Paw Bears which are named after him. He got to hold the very first completed one just days before he died.
He was proud of my writing, he loved reading my books and my newspaper articles.
I was proud of him in so many ways, for so many reasons.
I’m still Daddy’s little girl and I’ll always miss him.