I apologize sincerely for neglecting you all. I am here now, and I promise to never leave you again. Don't worry though. I saved the best for you. I saved the one Father's Day topic I've wanted to talk about all week for my favorite readers in the world. For you, dear readers, I saved my dad.
Want to know why I can make you laugh sometimes? Because I grew up with my dad laughing at my horrible jokes. Want to know why I can make you cry some times? Because my dad never told me that boys don't cry, or shamed me when I did. I never felt like it was something to be embarrassed about. Want to know why I keep writing? Because my dad always told me I had talent, even when I didn't. (I'm not saying I'm Bill Shakespeare now, but trust me, I have a shoe box of writing from High School that would make you squirm!) My dad has never hesitated to hug me, or tell me tell me that he loved me. When he was disappointed or angry, he definitely let me know, but when was proud, he never hesitated to tell me. And that made all the difference.
My dad's father died just before I was born. I grew up with the stories about him, his service in World War II, and how much he loved my grandmother. I carried those stories with me, but what I also carried was the reality of his death in proximity to my birth - which scared the hell out of me. I saw how sad my dad was that his father never got to meet me, and a part of me always worried that something would happen to my dad and I would lose him before he got to meet my children. This anxiety was so consuming that sometimes I would lay in bed at night and convince myself that something had happened at the airport where he works, and that he wasn't coming home. I would stare at my bedroom window, praying for a quick flash of his headlights that I had convinced myself would never come.
But they always did. He always came home. He worked nights and it would be late when he would come in to my room to check on me. I would close my eyes and pretend to be asleep. He'd come in kiss my forehead, and head back out to the living room to watch TV. I would roll over and go to sleep, happy knowing he was OK.
Some nights, every so often, shortly after he got home, and after he had come in to kiss pretend asleep me, he'd poke his head back in the door and whisper:
"Johnny… John Boy…. wake up."
I'd roll over and pretend to wake up, rubbing my eyes like the little actor I was.
"There's a great movie on. Come watch it with me. Be quiet. Don't wake your mom up."
Then I'd crawl out of my bed, over the mountain of comic books that was my blanket, and go to the living room with my dad to watch The Guns of Navarone, or The Great Escape, or High Plains Drifter for the third or fourth time. The funny part is, I don't remember much about those movies at all. We wouldn't watch them. We'd just talk. I'd ask endless questions and he'd tell me stories about his life growing up, his dad, mistakes he'd made, accomplishments achieved, the time he sunk his dad's car up to the roof in snow while driving it on a snow mobile path and then proceeded to sink two more large trucks trying to get it out.
I'd sit, and listen and laugh until my stomach hurt, while in the back ground Steve Mcqueen escaped from the Nazi's or something like that. (Really, I have very little recollection of any of those movies.) Eventually he'd run out of stories and we'd turn quietly to the TV where I'd fight my eyelids as long as I could and eventually open them in my bed in the morning, get ready for school, and wait to see my dad again that night.
My dad is alive, healthy and has met both of my kids many times. Duchess calls him Papa and likes to tug on his grey hair. Captain doesn't call him anything, but he pooped on him once - which means "I love you" in Captainese. Now he's the Grandpa and I'm the dad, and that is still weird for me to say.
Now I'm a dad. And now I'm the one with the endless kisses and the hugs and laughter for jokes that may not deserve it. Someday, when they're a little older I will wait until their mom has gone to bed and invite them out to not watch my favorite movies while we talk about all the wonderful adventures I've filled my life with. And for now, every night, I'll go into my kids' room and kiss them on their foreheads. I'm pretty sure they're both asleep, but who knows? Maybe they're waiting for me too.
Thanks for always coming home dad. I love you. Happy Father's Day
Johnny... John Boy
|Papa and Duchess|
P.S. My mom is also amazingly fantastic. She is an equally important part of who I am today. I promise to someday tell you all about her too. Love you mom!