Why I love and miss my dad.
He loved to dance, because he was fun and because it made others smile. He would dance anytime, anywhere. Most memorably, on a family movie outing, he danced very slowly, while sick, down the aisle of the movie theater, across the front of the theater and out into the lobby with a finger in the air and without missing a beat.
My dad worked hard. He loved to explore every creative option and test the boundaries. He was not always liked for this progressive style, which makes me admire his work ethic all the more. I wish I had that inner fortitude, to bravely ignore the norm and not cave under criticism. While in between jobs, he never got down. Instead he took what he could get, which was a job at a calling center with mostly college-age workers. His trademark was always meeting or exceeding his quota of phone calls and passing out candy to the other workers. He was criticized for behaviors that seemed strange to others, but every day he continued to show up to work with a smile and with a pocketful of candy. He was strong.
He cared deeply for others. While my aunt was sick and needed surgery he desperately wanted to travel to Indiana and relay God’s love for her. However, he was too sick to travel as this was in December of 2010, and he passed that following February. Instead, he sent me, with a mission to care for her and to tell her about God’s love. No pressure! When I agreed to fly out there the glimmer in his eye communicated his deep excitement for how my aunt would be touched and for what God had in store. While I was out there he left me a garbled voicemail about how much he knew that this was God’s will. He trusted.
He welcomed the stranger. In the last year of my dad’s life he went on a “project” kick. In true dad form he was determined to make our house the best it could be. He could not do the work on his own so he hired many workers who we came to know well because they were around a lot. He could not always communicate what he wanted to them with words but every morning he would wake up, prepare coffee and lay out snacks for them so that they would all feel welcome and at home. They became our family’s friends because they could feel this love and joy emanating from my dad, even though he could not always speak with them.
He loved me deeply. His hugs were the best and became a very safe place for me. A place that I still miss. He wrote me poems, he painted me pictures, he told me I was beautiful, he danced with me, he took me out to breakfast, he met me at bookstores because he knew I liked to go there, he didn’t always understand me but he always offered me his arms, he played catch with me, when I was little he would buy me a pack up gum and a pink water gun every time he went to the hardware store, he was proud of me. He was happy if I was happy. That’s how I know he loved me. He loved very, very well.