My dad wasn’t the typical dad. He didn’t have a lot to say. We didn’t have a lot of heart-to-heart conversations. We usually had dinner together and I’d try to save something funny to share at dinner-time, but that was often the only time I’d see him during the week.
He worked hard. He worked the graveyard shift for thirteen years . . . so for most of my life, he was working while I slept. When he came home, he’d work more, fiddling with computers, fixing televisions and radios. Soldering irons, Morse code and cold cement floors remind me of him . . . because when he wasn’t at work, you could find him in the cold garage, fixing things.
He barely slept.
He had an unexpected creative side. Toward the end of his life, he took oil painting classes. He always loved photography and framed the images he captured. He acted in local theater productions and sometimes, he’d sit at the piano, play a few chords and croon a song. I cannot hear “Raindrops Keep Falling On My Head” without hearing his voice in my head.
The last four months of his life were tough. My husband and I lived with him while he died from malignant melanoma. On Father’s Day, 1989, he asked if I’d mind if he went to visit a friend of his . . . his friend, Jim, a funny little man who hid his bad teeth with a close-mouthed grin. He couldn’t always keep his teeth out of sight, though, because my dad would make him laugh so hard his mouth flew open.
My dad was funny. He would occasionally prance through the house singing, “I feel pretty, oh so pretty. . . ” He loved to laugh. His dark side overshadowed his humor far too often, but he was a funny guy.
I miss him. I was thinking today that when I’m his age I will have lived without a father for half my life. He died when I was only 24, before I became a mother, before I had any idea what it meant to be a parent. I’m not sure he had any idea, either, but he was starting to get the hang of it when he died on September 21, 1989.
I know he loved me, though, and that’s all that really matters.