Monday, January 19, 2015

Dear Dad

Quick little note:  This post is a noticeable departure from my usual yammering about fluffy, inconsequential topics.  This one’s a little more weighty, sad, and personal.  Hope it’s not too much of a downer.  It just spilled out when I sat down to write.  I didn’t even know it was there brewing under the surface.  Maybe it’ll strike a chord with someone somewhere.  xo

Dear Dad,

I turned 40 last year.  I'd like to think you know that, and that somehow you've been keeping tabs on me.  On all of us, really.  What's going on in our lives.  Where we live.  How we're doing.

I'd like to think you pop in now and then to say hi and check in.  In a dream.  Or one of those overwhelming moments where I just know you're there.

I'd say that 90% of me believes that to be true.  But nobody can ever really know whether that's the case until we all inevitably reach our expiration date.  And hopefully meet again.

I wish so many things that can't become reality.  I wish we didn't have to lose you so young.  Young for you...and young for us, too.  Strange to think that your oldest daughter has now outlived you.  And in less than a decade, I will have outlived you too. (Here's hoping) That fact alone crystallizes exactly how young you were when you died.  All of us are so close to the age you were when your life ended in our own lives right now.  It's surreal and it messes with me a little bit if I think about it too long. 

Me & Dad, Brooklyn, NY - 1975

I wish I could have had a relationship with you as an adult.  I was only 11 years old when we lost you, so to me you were just Dad.  "Dad" in the most innocent, little kid, center of the universe type of way.  You weren't an actual person to me yet.  You were just Dad, and I had no idea that that's the only way I would ever know you.

I can't help but be a little envious of those people who have the enormous privilege of having an adult relationship with their father.  Those lucky enough to transition to that next phase.  When you're no longer lopsided, and become more like equals than constrained in the uneven roles of parent and child.  What I would give to hang out & have a beer with you!

Massapequa Park, NY - 1982

I think you would be proud of the man I married.  Another man in blue...just a different kind of blue.  I think you would have appreciated and respected the work he does, and the adventurous life he's given us.  I bet you'd come and visit Kodiak and hike a mountain with me.

I wish I could know how different my childhood would have been if you were able to stay in it.  No breaking down in tears to my religion teacher on a Sunday a few weeks after you died - because I didn't know whether you were "in heaven" or not.

No seeing my brother cry for the first time.

No watching my sisters struggle under the weight of startling loss in their fragile, early teen and young adult years.

No seeing Mom cope with the heaviness of grief and the unplanned circumstance of taking the reigns for a family of 5 on her own.  No watching her fall apart in the car because "Don't Worry, Be Happy" by Bobby McFerrin came on the radio.

I wish you could have experienced the life you didn't have.  Toasting the accomplishments of each of us at our milestones.  Walking your daughters down the aisle.  Seeing me graduate with my master's degree.  Meeting your grandchildren and son-in-laws.  Seeing your son grow into a solid, good man who is universally loved by those who are lucky to know him and call him a friend.  Celebrating anniversary after anniversary with Mom.  You'd be somewhere around your fiftieth anniversary by now.

Remember the Cabbage Patch Kid craze in the mid-eighties?
I love his classic Giants hat.  He always wore baseball hats so high on his head.

I wish you could know what distinct, compelling memories I have of you during the 11 short years I had to know you.  The unwavering stability there was in seeing you walk through the front door of our house after work.  The pure, childhood joy of being on the receiving end of your attention.  When you're a kid, it really doesn't get any better than that.  There was no back better for "riding horseback" around the living room on than yours!  I hope somehow you know all of these things that I wish and all of these memories that I cherish.

Riding "horseback" - 1981

But again, maybe you already do.  I miss you.  I love you.  Until we meet again.

Your Pugga

New York's Finest.  Brooklyn, 1971

Massapequa Park, NY - circa 1984.  This one picture captures the essence of him so well.  It's perfect.

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