Due to a complete overhaul of our closets, I have been going through every piece of clothing, paper, box, and folder to see what can stay and what needs to go. Inside one of my dusty boxes that has been sitting in the corner for months untouched, I found a few scrappy looking notebooks. I have been writing in journals for years, but not meticulously so. Mismatched notebooks, packing lists mixed in with curriculum ideas, and wedding notes tossed in with recipes, I write down anything and everything, and will often use bits and pieces of each notebook for streams of thought. There are certain notebooks and journals that I have ripped up, shredded and tossed out because there was nothing much to them. I will do that with the ones that hold no significance and mark nothing of importance to me. Looking at the most conspicuous of today’s bunch, I flipped through a very random tiny notebook already knowing it was going to the shred pile, but suddenly, I saw it….. the notes for the eulogy I wrote for my father. Reading over it, it sounds very much like something I would write here, still my voice, five years later. After reading this over just now, I feel compelled to share it, and God may be just as surprised at me for doing so, (and nothing surprises God!) but it feels wrong not to. Rereading it made me remember little things that make me smile all over again. It makes me cry all over again too… grief is unpredictable that way. In honor of father’s day, with names dropped out of course, but otherwise verbatim, here is what I wrote for my dad. The timing couldn’t be better.
It has been interesting and heartwarming to hear accounts of my father from the community and family gathered here today. You all have your memories of him: “simple,” “proud,” “stubborn,” “quiet,” “determined,” and “serious” top the list. There are also many of you who recognize him as being “funny,” “sarcastic,” “loving” and “warm.” You were all right. He is/was all of those things. He never faked it. He never put on airs. If he thought something about someone, he let it be known, and if he had an opinion about something he didn’t bother sugar coating it. He was a true and sincere man. He was different things to different people, and to me he was always “Daddy.” My family and I were blessed with the gift of time last week. We reached him in enough time to talk with him, hear his voice, and say all of the things we wanted to say. Our family is small and uncomplicated. My sister, my mother, and my husband. Now, 72, retired for 22 years, he didn’t want anything more. He had a good life. He told me that last year. When I entered the hospital last Tuesday, he looked at me in the eye from his bed. I didn’t immediately see his feeding tube. I didn’t notice the I.V. even. He was only in a regular room and not the ICU, after all. I saw his eyes, and I heard him in my heart and spirit tell me, “You were enough. You were all enough for me.” I can’t explain it, but I know that’s what he said. We were able to tell him how much we love him, how grateful we are for everything he’s done. Because of him, my sister and I are the obvious things: happy, confident, independent. But we are also other things that you could be if you are CP’s daugthers.
1. We have night vision. We can move around in the dark because dad always liked to keep the lights off to conserve energy, unless of course we were graced by the light of a 15 watt bulb.
2. We like sweets. When we were kids and had ice cream but couldn’t wait to get to the cones, he’d say, “Okay, I’ll just eat your ice cream and then the cookie cone is all yours.” He would then proceed to finish it all up. We thought he was doing us a favor! My sister even gave daddy a cupcake last night to celebrate her birthday.
note to any blog readers: He died 3 days before her birthday, so when she was presented with cupcakes for her birthday during the wake/ vigil the night before, she actually took one out of the box and put it on a chair for him.
3. We have dry wit and a high sense of sarcasm. When mom and dad first stayed in our apartment when we got married, my husband and I were still very excited about using all of our wedding presents. I set the table one morning, served juice, toast and a sugar free high fiber, all bran cereal to dad in a cherry red bowl on top of a bright blue plate. I said, “Dad! Isn’t breakfast so much more fun eating on these cute bowls and plates?” He then said, “Hmph! It would be more fun if I liked the cereal.”
Few words, all meaningful. Simple life. HUGE impact. My memories of him are all happy. We cry not because we are sorry or sad, but because we are thankful to have had him.
I am unsure if I had more in it, I remember copying this down on sheets of white paper the morning of the funeral, sitting on the floor of my sister’s old bedroom. Maybe it did end that abruptly. I suppose it was excusable then. I think there were three or four speeches that day, so I didn’t feel any need to write about his impressive intelligence, his professional accomplishments, the variety of sports he excelled at over the years, or that plumbers, painters, electricians, gardeners and car technicians were never seen in our home growing up. He could fix everything. He changed out of his suit each early evening (but would keep on his black Gold Toe socks) and put on his backyard uniform of white v-neck t-shirt, light blue shorty shorts, and white sneakers and get to work until dinner, fixing this and that in his spare time, and for hours each weekend. I realized that this was the one and only time that I can think of that I read aloud something I wrote. It was worth it. Like all grown daughters, I can truly appreciate all of the things my parents did for themselves and for us. My husband once teased me early on in our relationship that I was a bit ‘entitled’, expecting to always be cared for as well as I care for others, always expecting to have boys be very sweet to me and to do things to my liking, always expecting more of myself, and always thinking how things can be done better. “That’s not entitled, ” I told him. “Maybe it’s what you call being my daddy’s girl.”