Last week, my sister Susan was thrown from one of her horses, so my other sister and I went to her house to look after her and help with the barn chores. We had a ‘Dad’ moment when she said how much she hurt and we replied, “you know why it hurts? Because it’s pain and pain hurts.” My dad used to say that to us when we were kids and it would make us smile, even if we were in pain.
That moment and this, the 10th anniversary of his death, has had me thinking even more than usual about my dad and what he meant to me.
I definitely get my sense of humor from my dad. He was always telling jokes and he loved puns. When we were children, our closest airport was Love Field in Dallas. To get there, we drove by the Kodak plant. My dad would start with comments like “some day my prints will come,” “there are always interesting developments there”—you get the picture (see, it’s hereditary!).
I remember my dad’s laugh when one of us children told a joke or made a pun or even when we made a smart aleck comment. Once, one of us asked Dad, tongue-in-cheek, what was it like when he was a little boy and the prairie wagons were rolling across Kansas. Instead of being irritated with the age implication, he laughed, just as he did when he asked my brother one time to make him a Pepsi (meaning, fix him a glass with Pepsi and ice). My brother said, ‘poof, you’re a Pepsi.’ Another chuckle from my dad!
My dad raised me as a baseball fan, although he used to say he didn’t understand where he had gone wrong in that I never learned to drink beer. He led me to believe that the best thing that could happen in the Dallas-Fort Worth area was for us to get a major league team and when it happened, we were so excited. Over the years, we talked trades and history and legends. I so wish he had been alive to see the Texas Rangers make the World Series in 2010 and 2011, even though his heart would have broken along with ours when they lost, especially in 2011.
One of the things I learned from my dad was if I was in a bad mood, to just be in the bad mood and not try to persuade myself that I wasn’t. He said that when he had a bad day, he came home, got a beer, and sat in front of the television and sulked. By the next day, he was feeling better and ready to get on with things. I’ve realized over the years that it saves a lot of time and energy to acknowledge how one is feeling, even if the feelings are ‘negative.’
I cherish the memory of the many talks my dad and I had in my adult years. Whenever I visited him and my stepmother, he always made time for the two of us to talk alone, usually in the morning over cups of coffee and tea and the bagels we’d gone out to get. I learned so much in those talks—my dad had a way of asking questions that required me to articulate things for myself. He softened my edges too, reminding me that sometimes it was easier to accomplish what needed to be accomplished by understanding where other people were coming from and walking around in their shoes for a while.
I remember the summer I was living in New York City, having moved there for a boyfriend. The relationship almost immediately went downhill and I don’t know how my father knew, but on his way home from a business trip to Boston, he detoured to NYC to take me out to dinner. Although I didn’t tell him everything that was going on, just being able to talk to him, and have him there, was comforting—I knew he was in my corner.
My father didn’t just love me, he believed in me and that gave me confidence. I remember saying to my brother the night he died, “Dad didn’t think we were perfect, but he thought we were wonderful.” I know that the reverse is also true—my dad wasn’t perfect, but he was wonderful. I miss him still, but I was so lucky to have him as my dad.
Love you, Dad!