I miss my dad. He died 30 years ago last February, when I was 13 years old. I tried to write about him on February 11, the anniversary of his death. I tried again on the 28th of February, which was his birthday. I found, much to my dismay, that I was not writing about him, but about how much his loss defined me and in some ways still does. I could not honor him in a way that I wanted.
This afternoon, reading Mom-101's post on a favorite restaurant she shared with her father and grandfather, opened a door for me.
I actually went to Google Earth to find the restaurant my father used to take me to. It is still there after all these years. Several blocks away, I found the address where my father's business had been located, and where I had spent so much time as a child. A new, much more modern, building stood in its place.
I think most of the truly happy memories from my childhood involve my father. He would take me off into his place of work where I would distract his secretaries and raid the supply cabinet. I used to pretend I worked there, typing letters to imaginary clients and wasting yards of adding machine tape on meaningless columns of numbers. Of course, I imagined I would grow up to actually work there, I thought I would be a secretary like the young ladies I admired.
He would take me around with him from project to project, from place to place, to both job site and store. While he talked with people be they employees or clients, I admired the construction machinery, and in the case of an auto parts store
Often he would take me from work to the Lyndhurst Diner where they knew our names. I would play with the tabletop Juke box and order the same thing every time. I haven't been back to
People told me that I looked like him; that I took after him, that I was mechanically-inclined like him. These were all compliments to me, they filled me with pride. He is the source of my inner gadget geek; he had a mobile phone back when they worked like ship to shore radios. He understood technology; he had a computer in his office that took up the whole room, but he knew that digital watches would get smaller and thinner the longer they were on the market. He understood how barcodes would be used long before the scanners showed up at the supermarket. He gave me my first radio, tape recorder, stereo, he would have loved my iPhone.
I knew he loved me. Even when he was upset, I never had any reason to question that. I knew he was proud of me. He never really had to say it, but the day I discovered he kept one of my perfect spelling tests in his car with him was a revelation. I was closer to him than anyone else in my family.
When I was a child, I spent entirely too much time at Children’s Hospital in
I made it. I’m still here, but he is long gone. I don’t think about it in the way that I once did, but every so often, it hits me what I’ve missed; what he’s missed.
I like to think he has been watching over me these past thirty years; giving me the strength and the sanity to marry a good man. Our first son is named after my father, and I struggle to convey how important he was to me, without getting into how sad I was without him.
It was incredibly hard to enter my teenage years without his protection, though I don’t know that I would have seen it as such at the time. He took me to work with him less frequently the closer I got to puberty. He didn’t want me around all the young men that worked for him. It was difficult for him to watch my sister and me develop crushes on boys. He was no social butterfly, so it must have pushed some kind of button with in him when my sister declared that she wanted to marry a “cute, smart, boy,” for my father uncharacteristically quipped “I was the last of them.”
Thankfully, that may have been the one thing he was wrong about, because my sister and I both managed to find them. Of course, we had the best example to go by.
That photo was taken at Children's. I was under a year old. Looking at it now, I'm realizing that the crib in the background is nearly identical to the ones my boys slept in at the Baby Home in Russia.