Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Decade Gone

One of Daddy's girls....

Wedding day, 1947......

Today is the 10 year anniversary of my Dad’s death. A decade ago, my dad died of mesothelioma. How can it be ten years already? How can I still see a graying head over a grizzly bear stature ahead of me in the mall and not think for just a moment, “Dad is here too!” How can I not drive in the Ozarks for tart apples in the fall and not think, “I’d better buy an extra bushel of Jonathans for Dad”? How can I not lean into a twisting curve on a blue highway and not think how much he would have loved this road? When I see my grandson, I remember Dad’s holding his own first grandson and how he would have so enjoyed holding his great-grandson.

Dad worked like a Morgan horse all his life. Short, but stout in legs and arms, he pushed and pulled something everyday of his life. He never delegated; always jumped in himself. He was the first to arrive, the last to leave. He took an early retirement and finally began to enjoy life. He bought a new Gold Wing to replace the motorcycle he sold when he became a father forty years earlier. He hit the road, letting the wind and sun caress his work worn body and began to know what the real meaning of life is. It is hard not to feel a tad of anger when others get a quarter of century more of life without appreciating the glory of it or when I think he might be here too if it had not been for the selfish greed of asbestos companies that chose a dollar over a daddy.

But Dad continued to both learn and teach lessons until the end. During the last hospital stay, he refused to give up his 5 a.m. walk. So I went too.

But I refuse to think of Dad as entirely gone. I see his broad behind when I pass my mirror. I hear his voice when I use his self made colloquialisms. When I see that bull dog attitude and ribald, off color humor of his in my number one son, and when I watch the fastidiousness and sensitive, generous heart of my number two son, I hear and see my Dad. When I spend time with my two nieces, I think how much Dad wanted a son, but how his heart was always loyal and devoted to little girls.

A decade is such a long time, such a short time, such an imprecise measure of time passed.


Linda O'Connell said...

This post brought tears to my eyes and it made me smile too. I just closed an old photo album before I checked the blog. I was looking at old photos of my dad too. I got my story telling ability from him.

Thank you for sharing such a moving piece.

BECKY said...

Oh Claudia, I agree with Linda. This was beautiful. I'm so happy for you that you had a father to be proud of, a father that loved you, and as you said, is still with you in many ways. I absolutely LOVE your last line. I may ask to borrow it sometime!