It’s after midnight, Dad’s birthday. We are burying my Dad “today” on what would have been his 75th birthday. We are committing his ashes to the ground, next to my Ma at High Lawn Cemetery in Oak Hill. He was the greatest Dad a kid like me could ever have. He was kind, patient, smart and funny. He had a dry sense of humor that would catch me off guard at times. He chose to be my Dad, there is no more special a gift in my life than to know that. He met Ma when I was a toddler, they married and he adopted me shortly after.
When I was in fourth grade and Ma finally caught Ms. Johnson beating the crap out of me at Scarbro Elementary, my parents decided to enroll me in Sts Peter and Paul Catholic School. I had been baptized Catholic when I was born. But my parents attended the Church of God, in Carlisle, like my Nana. I was instantly fascinated with the Catholic religion and attended church twice a week during the school week per the structure of the education I received at Sts Peter and Paul. I decided I wanted to attend church on Sunday, Dad volunteered to take me. He became fascinated as well. Because I was baptized Catholic, I was able to receive instruction in fifth grade (with all the second graders at the time) and received Holy Communion on (I believe) Mother’s Day. Both of my parents converted to Catholicism the same year. My parents both went on to be Eucharistic Ministers in the church. Dad remained a minister up until Ma died. We sat in the same pew, on the same side of the church every Sunday. Daddy continued to sit there years after Ma had passed. It was our constant in life, the church and our designated pew.
Dad taught me to drive in a truck with a stick shift. I was 16 with a learner’s permit when I drove the car into the wall of our back patio while trying to park. Hit it so hard that it made an impression of Dad’s knees in the glovebox. He never screamed. Just told me to get out of the truck and go inside. I had experienced the same calmness (to keep from killing me) a few years earlier when I locked the keys of the Granada in the trunk at the beach in the Florida Keys while being stubborn about a conch I wanted to keep for a pet. They had to send a locksmith from the mainland because it was a Sunday, a holiday and none were available. Dad walked on the beach, I offered to go with him but he said it was best if I just stayed where I was and think about what I had done.
He had to maintain calm so many times while I was growing up and as a young adult. I left for college and brought home a baby boy instead of a degree. And between Alex, and then my daughter Amanda, Dad’s heart was won over like all grandfather’s experience. Because I was horrible at choosing men (Dad: Promise yourself that today you will not be a shit magnet.), my Dad was the primary role model for my kids as they grew up. I am so utterly thankful for that. I am glad that Bobby was in my life and he was able to know him. He knew I would be taken care of and the kids too.
He believed that Alf, Chewbacca and Sasquatch were related and he believed we all had a little alien in us.
He was proud to have been in the Air Force, he taught me to respect the military. He LOVED the Oak Hill High School fighting Red Devils – all the sports. He was Santa to neighborhood kids and cousins for a decade. He drove all of us in the Carlisle Crunch Bunch for so many miles to see so many games. He loved his family, his friends and telling stories.
And I would give anything for just one more hug and kiss.
I love you Daddy. Happy Birthday. You can rest easy now beside the love of your life. You can be proud of the life you have led, the people you have helped and the love you have shared. Our worlds were all better with you as a part of them. I love you so much. Tell Ma that Sunflower sends her love. Give Max a pat on the head, awful little dog that he was.
I will miss you both. Forever.