It has been 6 months and 8 days since my dad left this world for a new one.
Today would have been his 55th birthday, to which I would have told him that he was an old man, now closer to 60 than 50. To which he would have surely replied, “you’re a dork”. Because that was just my dad.
Finding the words here is hard, which says a lot, seeing as I am rarely at a loss for words. Even though it has been half a year, many days I forget and I grab my phone to text him, and then realize that I can’t. And there isn’t much to say about that – besides that it really, really sucks.
“your hair looks nice”
You see, my dad was everyone’s friend. Literally – everyone. At his memorial service, people had to stand outside because the building was at capacity. But no one complained. They were just honored to be there, honored to have known him at all.
My dad was really hard to dislike, even when you wanted to dislike him. He was one of the most loyal people I’ll ever know. He’d give the shirt off his back for anyone he had ever met – even if he had only met them once. But I’m not sure my dad met anyone only once, because most everyone he met became his friend.
He was as stubborn as a mule, and the more you became annoyed with his shenanigans – the more he’d continue them. When he’d finally give you a break, he’d snicker and you couldn’t help but smile back. Because his smile was contagious.
“’cause nothin’ lasts forever, even cold november rain”
Growing up my bedroom window faced towards his garage. Almost every evening of my childhood I would fall asleep to the sound of his air compressor, or at the very least the mumbling of voices and the rumble of laughter. I always knew he was there, no matter how terrible I was, he was there – because he was my dad.
If I stop to think about the person I would be today without my dad, it’s slightly terrifying. I wouldn’t know that person. Frankly, I probably wouldn’t even like her. At the root of everything I believe in, I can trace it back to my dad.
For one, his stubbornness was completely passed onto me. My dad never forced me to do anything I didn’t want to do – but he didn’t allow me to tell myself I couldn’t do it. He said to me more times than I can remember, “can’t never could do” – and I truly believe that philosophy has shaped the person I am today. With that, comes my determination. Which, let’s be honest, is a nice way of saying stubborn.
“i wanna rock and roll all night and party every day”
While music wasn’t something my dad and I actively enjoyed together growing up, it’s him I can thank for love of music. However, most mornings he listened to this talk radio show with some terribly obnoxious guy – I can’t remember the name. But I remember that I hated it. They’d make these ridiculous prank phone calls just to annoy the fire out of someone and he would chuckle the entire drive. As an adult, I’m sure I would find it funny – but as a teenager, I just wanted control of the radio.
Point being, through many small moments in my life, my dad taught me to not take things too seriously. And while there have been seasons in my life when I’ve lost that concept, I’ve always somehow managed to come back to it.
” take your time, don’t live too fast, troubles will come and they will pass”
At the root of it all, our entire life is just a conglomerate of seasons. Some bright and warm, some cold and dreary. We don’t get the privilege to live a life of only bright seasons – because while it’s the bright seasons we remember, it’s the cold ones that shape who we are to our core.
For many of us, we walk out of our bad seasons having experienced great growth, with increased wisdom and new perspective. For most of his life, my dad did the same.
“it’s getting dark, too dark to see, feels like I’m knockin’ on heaven’s door”
My dad was literally the most amazing dad I could have ever asked for.
My dad wasn’t a religious man, but he taught me faith, and trust, and purpose. They say you are given exactly what you need throughout your entire life – and I strongly believe that to be true, even when it feels so untrue. Even when “they” (whoever “they” may be) took my dad, I knew it was for a greater reason than I will ever know.
And while I find peace in that, it doesn’t make it hurt any less. It doesn’t make the hole in my heart any smaller. And it doesn’t remove the regret I’ll always have for the things I could have done better, or different, or not even at all.
But it’s okay. Because he’s there, he sees me, and he knows.
Sometimes I get into my car, or walk into a room, and I can smell this smell – a mixture of stale cigarettes, engine oil, and solvent. It’s a smell that doesn’t belong to anything physically there. It always seems to happen when I need it most, and I just know it is him.
“train roll on, on down the line, won’t you please take me far away?”
My dad left this world because the pain in his heart was too great for any living being to have to carry. He simply couldn’t be healed in the physical world.
He loved his friends and family more than words could even explain. And deep down I know that he knows he was also so deeply loved.
Happy birthday, dad.