Sunday, June 20, 2010
"And remember, I can still pull you over"
I think of things in pie charts sometimes. The life pie has love, fun, family, work, friends, and me. I have to have my own category just for me because I need ME time. It dawned on me this morning that I could have a Father pie. I have a lot of father figures in my life, and I'm grateful for that. Sadly, some of them are no longer here, but I will never say no longer with me. They're always with me. When it's time to get the oil changed in my car, I hear you. When I'm about to make an important decision, I hear you. I wish I would have written down more of the things you said throughout my childhood. Can I always remember? I hope so. My grandpa had the uncanny ability to make me laugh without saying a word. I don't know if it was the twinkle in his eye or the light step he had when he walked down the sidewalk. Maybe it was when he had to eventually get a hearing aid, therefore always pretending like he couldn't hear a word we were saying when in reality, I think he heard a lot more than he let on. I'm laughing as I type this, even now, thinking about that. He was ornery sometimes. There have been, and still are, so many times I've wanted to pick up the phone and call him. During the last presidential election I would have given anything to get his opinion. I can see him sitting on a patio, packing his pipe full of tobacco, getting ready for either good conversation with the men in our family, or, getting ready for just quiet patio time. But that quiet was never silent, he hummed a lot. I loved it. And I can still hear him.
My stepdad, and I really hate to even place "step" in front of the word Dad when I talk about him, but to keep things in perspective, that is who he was, was someone that I don't think any of us realized just how much we would miss when he was gone. There's an ache there still.....an empty space. But I fill it up with memories, pictures of him, and stories he told, and things he did that were so funny. My sister and her family came to Dallas for a visit several years ago. He got us all tickets to see Disney on Ice. What he failed to mention was that the tickets were for Disney on Ice in spanish. "Hola Mickey, como esta usted?" Don't get me wrong, I love attempting to speak different languages, but my 11 month old nephew didn't quite understand. And la pequeña sirena was interesting.......(The Little Mermaid).
My step dad was a superintendent for the Missouri state park system most of his life. He looked like Smoky the Bear in his uniform, and carried a gun and the license to pull you over if you were speeding through the parks. He pulled my grandpa over one day for fun. Grandpa didn't realize who it was until he rolled down his window and looked up at him. This went down in history as yet another "funniest thing he ever did" story. There are lots of those.
I felt understood when I was with him, he was so non judgemental about my decisions, even when he knew I may not be making the right choice he gently guided me without flat out saying, dude, don't be dumb. When he passed away the grief gripped all of us so tight we couldn't do anything less than band together and just let it wash away. What a slow process that was. We had the good fortune of having a very kind, articulate pastor doing the eulogy at his funeral. He appropriately ended with "and remember, I can still pull you over". Smiling through tears, laughing even, at his funeral, was something he wouldn't have had any other way.
My biological father lives in Washington State, I believe, if he's still there. Scattered contact from the time I was 16 until now. This is not meant to be a sad story mind you, it's just how it is. I'm a lot like him from what I've heard and from what I've learned by the contact we have had. I spent two weeks with him when he lived in Los Angeles, when I was 17 years old. He loves to cook, and will spend hours looking for one ingredient for a recipe from India. I haven't gone that far, but I do love to cook, always have. I have a huge binder notebook with recipes he has mailed me over time, I still haven't made all of them. He likes a neat house, things in their proper place. Very organized, loves great wine, good music, and Starbucks. He is the reason for this Starbucks addiction I have. He used to send me coffee, and a grinder, and all things Starbucks when I lived in a town in Missouri that didn't have one at the time. He would send truffles on my birthday, and wine if he found a good one in those lovely California vineyards he had access to, and ingredients that I couldnt find to make that perfect baba ghanoush. I LOVE greek food. He does too. My family has video footage of his wedding when he married my Mom, I could tell within one minute of watching it how playful he was, and thought, so that's where I get that from.
My Dad lives in the same town in Missouri that my baby sister and mom live in. I posted this status update in Facebook this morning "Any man can be a Father but it takes someone special to be a dad". We may not share DNA, but this is who I love, as my Dad. He's been my Dad legally since I was two years old, adoption papers don't mean anything to me. I have his last name, but what I really have is, my DAD. A perfect man he is not, but we are all imperfect in our own way aren't we? He was patient with us when we were growing up. Taught me how to bait a hook, begrudgingly on my end "but Dad it's just squishy, I dont want to". I drink coffee with milk in it even today, because he did for as long as I can remember. The smell of BBQ, charcoal mind you, and the sounds of summer, cicada's and splashing in the pool, remind me of him. He will be the one I call today, and when I say hi Dad, he will say, "welllllll if it isn't my favorite daughter". (yes I know he may say this to my sisters too, don't spoil my fantasy that I really AM his favorite mmkay?) I can hit a softball clear out into left field because of that patience he had. I would call him understated, he may not say much if we're sitting amongst a crowd of family, but what he does say, I listen to. Always have.
Dad, I hope you have a good day today. When I see you again, we'll have steak medium rare, just like we always have.
To all of my friends, and uncles, who have been father figures in my life, I thank you. To my friends who ARE fathers, I wish you a very happy Fathers Day.
See you soon,
PS If you have breakfast with my Dad and I, it will be "basted" eggs, not quite over easy, and definitely not sunnyside up, over toast.