I Miss My Dad

August 9th, 2008 Comments

Before my brother was born, I had just over three and a half years as an only child.  We moved into a bigger house when he came along, but apparently we had lived three or four other places before his birth.  I don’t have much memory of that.  I also don’t have much memory of the story I am about to tell, but every time my Dad tells it, he gets a little verklempt and proud and teary.

I was about three years old and my Mom had already begun to teach me that when my Dad returned home from work, it was a big deal.  Well on this one particular Summer day in Portland, I was in the backyard of our house on NE 62nd, just off of Burnside.  I was playing with a neighborkid on the other side of our fence.

I have to go, my Daddy is home!

My Dad poked his head out the door when he came home, just to say hi.  I turned to my friend and shouted: “I have to go, my Daddy is home!” and off I ran to leap into his arms.  I remember doing that when I was older.  In fact, it was pretty much our ritual for years.  But like I said, I was too young to remember this instance, but I will never forget the first time I heard my Dad tell the story.

I had never seen my Dad filled with so much pride.  I don’t think I ever felt more loved than when I heard him tell that story the first time.

As I think back on it, I’m not so sure my parents were quite ready to be parents when I popped out.  My Mom was barely 20 and my Dad was a cocky little 24 year old punk.  Then, add in the special circumstances of my birth – and the 10+ reconstructive surgeries (that’s a post for a later date), and you begin to see how unprepared they were to be my parents.

And, not to get all Fruedian or Shakespearian on you, but when you see photos of my Mom and that age, and see how Hot she was, it’s pretty clear my Dad wasn’t thinking family when he met her.  My Dad was quite the young turk himself. 😉

I’m thinking that my Dad began to relish the idea of having a son worship the ground he walked on.  I did.  I always have.  I can’t remember a time when I haven’t held my Dad up to the highest of respect.

Things are different now though

Things are different now though. Dad will be 74 this Fall.  He’s always said, “You may get bigger, but you’ll never get tougher.”  Unfortunately, that has not proved to be true.  They say the best day and the saddest day of a boy’s life is when he beats his dad at sports.  They were right.

My Dad had open heart surgery quite awhile ago; and then as a complication to the medications he takes, he had a stroke in the Fall of 1998.  Since my Mom died two and a half years ago, he has become more and more frail.  He can’t stand long, needs a cane to walk, and has very little stamina for anything.

I used to watch my Dad pick up 200 pound concrete sewer pipe and throw them in the ditch.  I’ve seen him carry three sacks of dry concrete (270 lbs), just to win a bet.  My Dad was tougher, smarter (IQ=140), and wiser than just about anyone I’ve ever met.  Now, he is a withered old man.  If you were to look at him wrong he’s likely to fall over.

We don’t talk much now, but then again, we never really have

We don’t talk much now, but then again, we never really have.  We talked the most when I worked for him as the foreman of his pipeline business, but that was 30 years ago.  I call, but it seems like I am less and less motivated to call.  It is really hard to figure out what to say.  Unless we talk about baseball or the weather, but I don’t really follow baseball too much anymore.

Tonight, as I was reading to my kids, I thought of my Dad.  I was wondering if he was ever as much in love with me as I am with my kids.  I’m pretty sure he was.  I was wondering when I’ll stop being this crazy about my kids.  I don’t think I’ll ever not be crazy about them.  That made me realize that my Dad is probably as crazy about me, as I am about my kids.

My Dad is driving in from Colorado (where he lives near my brother) to visit us for a month.  He was supposed to arrive on Friday, but decided not to push it, so he’ll be arriving tomorrow.  I’m looking forward to seeing him.  My Darling Daughter is so excited and she can’t understand why he didn’t arrive yesterday, like we promised.

I miss my Dad

When he gets here, I’ll go out to hug him – just like I did when I was a kid.  The difference being that he won’t be able to hoist me up into his arms and when I hug him, it will feel like I’m going to crush him.  It is hard for him to hug back; I think he’s afraid of losing his balance.

I want so desperately to tell my Dad how much I love him.  I want to wrestle with him on the floor.  I want to stand behind the seat of some mighty backhoe and watch him pull dirt out of the ground.  I want to ride around in a dirty pickup and talk about job sites and waterlines.  I want him to hold me…like he did…again.  Forever.

I miss my Dad.

Comments

  1. Melanie says:

    God. God. Rip my heart out, why don’t you?

    I feel this very strongly because my father, at 64, has decided to dwindle from the tough guy he was to a stooped, tired old man, years before I would have expected it. I assume it’s because he retired and just let it all go, but it’s hard to see the guy who was a superhero, an intellectual giant, and the Marlboro Man all rolled into one fade out like this.

    Extremely well-done piece, Gary.

  2. mediaChick says:

    When you’re dad arrives, please take the time to record his stories. I regret not doing that with my Pops. His death at age 54 still resonates with me. Let him see you with your Darling Daughter, like he was with you, to show him that his influence continues. Enjoy his spirit and try to ignore his body’s betrayal. And laugh. A lot.

  3. Gary Walter says:

    @mediachick – You are awesome! Not only was your comment filled with great ideas, but the whole “body’s betrayal” concept gave me a great epiphany (http://twitter.com/gwalter/statuses/883786810).

    As I was helping my Dad get his trailer leveled, he was struggling with something. I’d offered to help, but that Walter work-ethic wouldn’t let him relent. Finally, he turned it over to me and as he moved, he said: “Let me get this decrepit old man out of your way.”

    Bingo! Opportunity! I said in reply: “Oh, you’re still tough (see his phrase above), it’s just that your body has betrayed you.”

    I didn’t see a smile, but I felt it.

    Game?

    Set?

    Match?

    Not quite, but it was a point!

    Thanks @mediachick!

  4. mediaChick says:

    Purrrrrrrrrrr!! =)

  5. Alex says:

    Your blog is interesting!

    Keep up the good work!

  6. Harriet says:

    I just stumbled across this blog by accident, but I’m so glad I did. Your post really touched me… it made me smile, made me cry…

    But most of all, it made me remember my dad.

    I have a feeling it’s one of those things that’s going to be in my head for months or even years to come.
    Thankyou.

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