Happy Birthday, Daddy.

Well. folks, today would have been my father’s 70th birthday! OLD indeed.

I was fine, absolutely fucking fine. Until this morning. I had this whole day planned out – I bought tickets well over a month ago to see Book of Mormon tonight. I figured since I was single, I would need a distraction today and with my bikram challenge being over, I wouldn’t have anything to throw myself into. So, here I am at noon, sitting at a starbucks, dressed in all black, sipping on iced coffee and writing a blog about the saddest feeling I’ve ever experienced.

For the second time in recent months, I awoke with the full moon blaring into my eyes. This morning it was 3am on the dot. The  moon, thousands and millions and quadrillion miles away shone not only through the universe, but angled itself perfectly between two buildings, a tree, a window, a screen, blinds and curtains to find my eyelids.

I was startled. I went back to sleep. I woke up a five, screaming. I had a charlie horse. I used to only get those when I drank. Last night, for the first time in who knows how long I had two beers at dinner. I managed to go back to sleep after eating a banana and a piece of chocolate. Then I woke up at 9. Couldn’t go back to sleep. Received an extremely long text from my mom about how proud my dad would have been of me, and proud he was. I cried a little.

I was Daddy’s girl. He was mine. He loved my mom and he loved my brother, but he was mine. He was the other side of my axle of on 2 axis family. The balance, my balance. And when we lost him I lost my balance. I love my family and we’re doing alright, but dang I miss him.

For anyone that was lucky enough to know him – and I don’t mean that in a weird, condescending way, he was truly the type of man that made you feel so special. He listened and CARED and would remember the conversations and months later he would ask how a particular situation ended. He welcomed everybody into his jovial, fun, affable heart as quickly as he would offer you a candy or piece of pie from his never ending supply of sweets.

I miss most, the conversations we would have off the cuff. I could call him any time, during any day and he would always side with me. I miss him a lot when I think about Australia, because he would support me to no end. Every time I have a doubt or say something like “I’m nervous” he would most surely have something silly to say like “well think of the men you’ll meet.” Which would make me respond something like “Dad!” and get embarrassed as if that wasn’t completely right and I had boys on my mind.

My bikram challenge, would have surprised him. I guarantee he wouldn’t understand a) why anyone would willingly want to go to a class in 105 degree heat and b) why his daughter was obsessed with it. However what he WOULD do is be so completely proud of me, he’d hold up the line at Rite Aid while getting his prescriptions telling the folks behind the counter about my challenge. I guarantee he’d even joke “Yeah, she’s talked me into trying it. So I’ve been practicing at home.” The man had one leg. The MOST he would have ever done, is drop me off at a class when I visited.

My dad had been sick off an on for quite sometime. In and out of hospitals since I was in 7th grade. Some of it was scary, but I always knew he would pull through because he always did. I remember one New Year’s Eve I was home because my dad was really sick. My mother was sure this was it. I didn’t understand, her holding in her tears. I could feel her worry and her heart break losing her best friend and the father of her children. Despite the call from the hospital which said “He’s taken a turn for the worse” (which in doctor terms means, gather the family, it’s time) I was completely calm. We got to the hospital and I had a minute with my sedated dad and said “Dammit. Quit playing around.” He woke up just after midnight and lived happily with us for a few more years.

The day he passed, we weren’t expecting it. He wasn’t even in the hospital he was in the recovery place. I got the call Christmas morning and my life would never be the same. That Christmas morning, after I paced around sobbing and crying and calling back and forth between my mom in NY and my brother in CA, trying to make sense of the nightmare-  I sat on my couch. I was alone, and sobbing. The Marilyn Monroe picture that had rested against the wall, on the mantle for that entire year came flying down at me. Out of nowhere, for no reason.

I started laughing. I knew it was my father. I think he got one chance from the great beyond to “contact” me, just to let me know he was there, and he was OK. Sometimes his presence is strong, or at least I hope he’s there when I talk aloud to him. This morning I was looking for a good picture of the two of us to attach to the blog and I settled on the one I have hung on my wall of us at my cousin’s wedding. I took the framed photo down to snap a pic, and hung it back up. Standing in front of the wall, the frame jumped off the wall. I put it back on my trusty thumb-tack nail. It fell again. This happened 4 times. ❤

photo (13)

I miss him all the time. Accepting he’s gone happened a while ago however it’s still hard and there are still moments of complete disbelief. A person can be a craving you have. The warmth and love that radiates from them to you is a feeling that can not always be duplicated or replaced. Even my mom knows this and when I call her sometimes to tell her something and quickly become deflated from her response, she offers “I know this is something you would have called your dad about. I’m sorry.” She doesn’t say anything WRONG, it’s just she’s not my dad.

At his memorial service we invited our friends and family to speak a little about him. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house, except of course – for me and my brother. We were hosting the event and ultimately comforting others who were dealing with their sudden grief. I remember when the emotion seemed to take over the room and people weren’t really wanting to talk more. I wanted to stand up and say “What’s wrong with you people! Tell me why you loved my dad! Tell me! Tell me!” But then I looked over at two of my “brothers” who were sobbing uncontrollably and I realized they were in the middle of it.

I stood up to end the presentation. The night before, spending all of our time cutting out Pittsburgh Steeler themed decorations I hadn’t prepared a speech. Luckily, I’m pretty good with words… So in closing I blabbed about who knows what all I rememeber is I ended with something like “If you take anything away from the life of my father please let it be the way that he lived. He lived from his heart and wanted everybody to, too. Go out into the world with a piece of Big Joe and love others, give everyone the benefit of the doubt, accept them and encourage them.”

Such a good man, that I came from. It’s unbearably sad when I realize all the things he’ll miss in his children and eventually grandchildren’s life. However the good news is they say that daughters marry their dad, so I know I have a good man coming!

Have a great day, enjoy it, eat some candy, watch NCIS, live with love.


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