Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Dear Dad

It's still surreal. I have to remind myself sometimes that you're not here with us physically. It's been a year since you left us and nothing really feels the same. Everyone misses you terribly.

I try to be there for everyone like you did. But I'm a poor replacement for you. I'm not as knowledgeable or as decisive. You may not have always been right but you made a decision and stuck to it. I could use some of that courage. I'll keep trying.

It's been a true learning experience for Mom and I. Selling houses, maintaining a fleet of cars and finances were always much easier when you were around.

We all still cling to the time we had together. Right after you left, someone told me that at least there was no doubt that you loved us and that you knew that we all loved you. She pointed out that I talked about you more than most people talked about their parents. And I guess I did. You were my best friend. I could always count on you for encouragement, kind words and perspective. You were always there to help me out or just hang out. I really loved it when I moved back from Toledo and we got to spend more time together. As much as I grumbled I truly never minded helping out at BINGO because I got to spend time with you. My favorite was during the second half when the games were winding down and you'd be in the darkened concession stand restocking. That was when we talked. They were never philosophical, weighty conversations - usually, just what was happening in our lives. I enjoyed when you'd call out of the blue and see if I wanted to go to the Indians game.

I appreciated it when you would let Sandy out if I had to work late. I think you and I were the only ones that liked that dog. Mom said you weren't as attached to her as I think. But I could see it when you'd come over and play with her.

I cleaned out the top drawer on your dresser a few weeks ago. Growing up, that drawer was always a source of wonder for me. You kept all the best man treasures in there - class rings, coins, notes from your mother, hankies, cuff links, pictures of us kids. I always liked stealing peeks in there. You always yelled at us to stay out of there but that wasn't much of a deterrent. The cool bric-a-brac always beckoned at me. It was strange going through those items now because they seem more like artifacts than mementos.

Vacations and holidays are particularly strange without you. Summer vacations were always "your thing." You were the travel guide, whether we liked it or not. I'm glad we got to go to Florida last year as a family. The holidays are just kind of confusing. You and Grandpa were such a huge part of them - leaving two enormous holes. I try to focus on the memories we have rather than what we're missing but it's hard.

Mom keeps saying that between you and Grandma & Grandpa there was never a time in her life that she felt unloved. And I think that's true for all of us. Between Mom and you, all the grandparents, sisters, aunts, uncles, cousins and now Mariella I've always felt loved. Which I suppose is something not everyone can claim.

All the girls and grandkids are doing as well as can be expected without you. You'd be proud of them. I am. We're sticking together through this whole thing. I even hug Mike way more than I used to. (Then again, that would only have to be more than once.)

I was and still am very proud to have you as a father and blessed to have you as a friend. I know you're still with us. I just wish you were here with us. We'll never forget you and always love you.


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