My dad was a Good Man. Not a perfect man or a flawless man, but a Good Man. He was kind, generous to a fault, damn funny, and more wise then he realized. Most of all, he overflowed with pride for his family. “You know, your mother is the reason you all turned out as good as you did”, he said to me in the weeks before he died. “I was always busy with work.” Then he added, “She raised you kids.” He was right about one thing. He was often busy with work. He worked hard. He grew up with nothing and wanted his family, his children, to have a much better life than he did. We did have a better life than he had growing up, and not just when it came to the material things his hard work provided. We weren’t rich by any means, but in the much simpler world of the 1970’s I don’t remember wanting for anything.
I think in me, my dad recognized the dreamer that had long been buried under a lifetime of duty and the limitations he placed on himself. He grew up in the age of “spare the rod and spoil the child”; he had a much kinder and gentler approach to parenting. Now don’t get me wrong, he wasn’t dripping with compliments or positive reinforcement. But when he said something, he meant it. I remember once working at the kitchen table on some project for school. That in itself was a rare occurrence, as rarely did something at school inspire me enough to want to put in the extra effort at home. He sat down at the table with a cup of coffee and a cigarette and very carefully perused my work. He looked over at me and said “ You can do anything you put your mind to.” I replied with the typical teenage eye roll and probably said something smart-assed about his smoking. I was always on him about his smoking. But that one phrase had a bigger impact on my life than he could ever have imagined.
Sometimes it seems like it’s been a thousand years since my dad last walked this earth. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. When I look at my children, I am reminded how a person never really dies but lives on in the hearts of others. My son has proven to us that a sense of humor is genetic. My husband and I often shake our heads in amazement at how a child who never knew his grandfather can have the same quirky way of making a person laugh. My little daughter has the same deep level of kindness and compassion for her fellow humans and four legged creatures as her granddad. He would have found his little granddaughter completely delightful.
My dad died long before his time. It was lung cancer. As I sat by his hospital bed, he quietly told me, “This time, I am going to quit for sure.” He was true to his word. He never smoked another cigarette. He died early the next morning. Even in death my dad taught me another lesson. It is an unmeasurable honor to spend time with someone during their final hours on earth.
Happy Father’s Day, Dad. You lived life well.
About the Author:
Patty is a busy Mom of 2 with a background in TV and Film production, and Information Technology. She is a champion of the underdog. She loves good food and to laugh out loud. She still hasn’t decided what she is going to be when she grows up. She’ll let you know when she does. You can reach her at Pattypie@imperfectwomen.com