I lost my Dad on December 21, 1989 and I think about, and talk about him more as the years go by. It seems like the early hurt goes away, but the yearning to talk to or see someone you lose, increases as time goes by. My Dad was the life force and humor of our family. I don’t mean to say he was perfect...none of us can say that! He was flawed and I was quick to find those flaws when I was younger. I basically got along with my Dad, but I often thought how I would be a better father than he was. I did do things differently, but that didn’t make me a more perfect father...just a differently flawed father.
As for a legacy of humor, that is what my Dad gave us. He rarely laughed at things he did. In fact, most times you couldn’t tell if he was getting angry that we were all laughing at something he did or not. The stories are endless. I remember a moment when the whole family spent a New Year’s Eve weekend in an area ski resort, Seven Springs, where I played for many years in one of the first bands I was ever in. The whole family was staying in a fantastic chalet and we were all gathered in the living room area, watching the skiers on the mountain come down the hill in the night, and we were all having a great time. This also was where Mom and Dad were going to sleep, on the couch that folded out into a bed. Well, it was time for Dad to go to bed and he couldn’t care less that we were still all lying around and carrying on, making noise. When it time for him to sleep, that was what he was going to do. He got into the bed with his pajamas and his black dress socks, which was funny enough, but as we turned to look at him, already beginning to laugh at the black socks, we went into hysterics when we saw that the bottoms of his socks were completely torn to shreds. There were only a few strings of thread holding together on the bottom of those socks. Well, we howled with laughter to the point of tears. None of this commotion bothered him in any way. He was the consummate straight man and off to sleep-vile he went. These are the little moments of laughter and life that my Dad brought to the family. They are moments that will last all of our lives. I had heard of so many more stories of him from before I was even born, of tales where he would dress up like a ghost and stand in the woods near the neighbor houses, howling like a banshee, until the frightened trick and treaters began throwing stones at him and he had to run for his life! The go on and on.
I know I have some of that within me, but there will never be another “Big Dave”! He was one of a kind and we all remind ourselves of the stories and laugh and enjoy his legacy to us, every day.
I also never hugged or said the words, “I love you” to him. I really regret that! We just never talked openly like that in my family. I make sure I say if often in my family. I even recently started forcing myself to hug my wife’s father. I have only shook his hand for hello and good-bye for the last 15 years. I recently just made my mind up to hug him instead, as I do to the rest of the family. I found, to my surprise, that he seemed to be waiting for it!
So this father’s day, if you are blessed enough to still have your father, make sure you show him and say the things that he wants to hear. Don't wait for someday, when it may be too late. Make yourself do it this Father’s Day. Once you do, it will be easy to continue from that point on. Give him a huge hug! It will be his best gift.