Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 84.
He was such a difficult man to love. Shut down and depressed for most of his life. A 6’5″cautionary tale of what will happen if you just never get out of bed. We battled and butted heads my whole life. I was either too harsh or not harsh enough with every interaction. I finally realized that there was no way I was ever going to have anything but a superficial, calls on birthday and Christmas kind of thing with that guy.
And then, one day in the spring last year, he went into hospice and all the crap fell away. My family and I got a glimpse of the gentle-hearted, child-like soul that lived hidden behind a wall built of a long lifetime of disappointment and hurt. We sat together and I massaged his gigantic hands because we didn’t know what to talk about. Magically, for a few days, I got to have the pappa-love I had always been missing.
Thanks to those tenderly merciful moments in the VA hospital, I am able remember some good things about him without feeling like I’m leaving myself open for a sucker-punch. He was a totally weird guy and I feel his presence when I push up my glasses the way he did or tell an awkward joke. When I was little, he let me watch TV with him when I couldn’t sleep. One year he lead the whole town in it’s annual Christmas Caroling. We had a secret signal and he called me “The Widge” and himself “Super-Dad”. I also think he idolized Bill Cosby.
Today I close my eyes and send sunflowers and ocean breeze to wherever he is now.
Happy Birthday Super-Dad. Love, The Widge.