Let me tell you about my father. He was not affectionate, but he showed us he loved us in pragmatic but meaningful ways. He was not generous with material things, but he always made sure my brother and I had what we needed. He did not smile a lot, but he had a really great sense of humor.
The doctor said that my dad had only six months to live, but Dad lived for much longer than that. Those two years were tough on our family; we saw our dad waste away a little every day. But he always had a lesson to teach. Those two years taught me to live like I was dying.
I travel a lot for work, and throughout his sickness I would tell him to “not die” until I got home. My dad fulfilled his promise. I know in my heart that he could not have chosen a better time than August 26, 2007.
There is a memory that will stay with me for as long as I live. While having morning coffee, I had Dad listen to “I Will Follow You into the Dark” by Deathcab for Cutie. He broke down and admitted that he was scared to die. He said it would be nice to have the song played during his wake. I promised him I would remember that. I held him in my arms until he stopped crying.
There is so much about my father that people don’t know. It was easy to see that he was arrogant, stern, cold—but Dad was really humble, fair, and full of warmth. He just had a really funny way of showing it.
Dad said I should tame my strong character, but I have his character. He told me to practice softening my gaze, but I have his eyes. He said I was too opinionated and headstrong, but that is just him in me. I am every inch my father’s daughter, and no daughter can be more proud.
I am proudest of the fact that my dad was not quick to judge, and was quick to forgive and ask forgiveness. He was always fair.
Daddy, I miss having coffee with you. I miss the insistent text messages reminding me to come home early. I miss the way you would squeeze my hand. I miss the once-in-a-blue-moon hugs I got from you.
Thank you, Daddy, for waiting until I celebrated my 30th birthday, and for holding my hands until your last breath. Thank you for wanting to live longer for us. Thank you for leaving no words unsaid, because it has made it easier for us to let you go. Most especially, Dad, thank you for allowing me to live my life while you were slowly surrendering yours.
I loved the life we had, and would not trade it for anything else in the world. It is an honor being your daughter. I love you, Daddy.
Four years after her father passed away, Candy doesn’t hurt as much, as she is happily discovering new things about her dad through his friends and relatives.
(Photo by Hamner Fotos via Flickr Creative Commons; used for illustrative purposes only.)