It has been six months since my dad left this life. Six months since he read a newspaper. Six months since he walked his dogs. Six months since he mowed his lawn. Six months since he filled his bird feeders. Six months since he listened to music from one of the five stereos in his house. Six months since he enjoyed a cup of coffee. Six months since he flipped someone off while driving and mumbling “motherfucker” through his gap teeth. Six months since he filled his fire pit with wood. Six months since he put a can of food outside for the stray cat he was highly allergic to. Six months since he overpaid for a movie OnDemand. Six months since he did a crossword puzzle (in pen). Six months since I called him for the last time to ask about wall anchors for shelves I was hanging in the garage.
Every moment my mind rests, even for a split second, I’m reminded “Dad’s dead.” It’s like my mind is intentionally preventing me from enjoying a drive with the windows down or feeling a bit of joy over something or simply closing my eyes to go to sleep. My mind is screaming “Dad will never again drive with the windows down or feel joyful or enjoy some rest after a long day so why should you?” I don’t know if these constant reminders will last forever but right now it’s really freakin hard. It’s really freakin hard going about my life without my dad and knowing he’s no longer going about his life; knowing he’s just gone. How can that be? Who am I supposed to call when I’m having car troubles? Or when I have no clue what type of paint to buy? Or when I can’t figure out how to hang a shelf in the garage? Yes I know these are stereotypical “Dad” questions, but that’s what Dads are for.
Although I can’t call my dad anymore when the shower isn’t draining properly or when I want to tell him I saw a bear, I am grateful for the 25 years worth of lessons he instilled in me. He taught me to never litter, never say “shut up,” and never use the word “hate.” He taught me to appreciate sunsets, thunderstorms, and the ocean. He taught me to “look it up” when I don’t know the meaning of a word. He taught me to do things myself if I want them done right. He taught me the importance of manners. He taught me not only to work hard but to work harder than everyone else.
My dad also taught me the type of person I don’t want to be. The aggrieved, impatient, stubborn, ornery, closed-off, unpredictable, and disconsolate versions of him leave me with feelings of resent, anger, and sadness. My dad was so much more than his issues and I wish life had been better to him. I know he did his best with the cards he was dealt and I find comfort in that. All I can do is be better than he was. Isn’t that the point of life? For our parents to be better people than their parents and for us to be better people than our parents? All I can do is learn from my dad’s mistakes and do what I can to make this world a better place.
It used to annoy me when I’d do something or say something and my mom would say “You are so your dad” but now I feel honored to carry so many of his qualities. What about me is “just like my dad”? Pretty much everything. How he was incapable of dealing with stupidity? Same. How he always said whatever what was on his mind but not always with the best delivery? Same. How he laughed so hard that tears streamed down his face? Same. How he put up a tough exterior and only let certain people get to know him? Same. How he lacked the ability to be empathetic? Same. How he had no sense of FOMO ever? Same. How he cried at the simplest things, both happy and sad? Same. How he let his anger get the best of him at the most uncalled for times? Same. How he used sarcasm to communicate? Same. I am my father’s daughter and I am so proud that these qualities in me will keep my dad’s legacy alive.
Despite how apathetic he came off, my dad would have given the shirt off of his back for anyone. Deep down he was a huge softie. He was the smartest person I know. He was the most talented artist I know. He loved bike riding, nature walks, ordering calamari as an appetizer at every.single.restaurant, sports, the color orange, and most of all music. Every time we were in the car together, he’d turn up the radio and ask “Who sings this?” I find myself doing that with my brother or with my boyfriend now. My dad loved making people laugh and most people loved being around him. He was “the man.”
It has been six months since my dad left this life and every day I’m in disbelief that I’ll never again hear his laugh, I’ll never again scream in pain from him squeezing right above my knee with his abnormally strong fingers, and I’ll never again be able to take an educated guess when he asks “Who sings this?” Every day I’m reminded that he won’t meet my future husband. He won’t walk me down the aisle. He won’t know my kids and be the best Pop Pop ever. But every day I feel so fortunate that he raised me, gave me everything I ever needed and wanted, and molded me into a generous, appreciative, and independent human.