My Dad died. There…I said it out loud. Even though I was by his side and saw him take his very last breath, it’s been hard to believe he’s gone forever. F-o-r-e-v-e-r.
I wanted to write this article for Thanksgiving so I could publicly thank him and show my gratitude. How trite, I thought. It doesn’t do him justice.
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So I write now. On a dreary Friday in November. Just another day like every single day since October 2 when I think of him and wish he were here.
I very much want to honor this honorable man. I also want to pass on some of his life tips. I know he would get a kick out of me doing this. Not just because receiving public gratitude is pretty nice, but because it validates that he did a good job teaching me. (Yes…I was listening, Dad!)
I now see that Melvin took his job as Father very seriously. He made a good living. He set a strong and positive example. He taught us something every day. He raised two hard-working, nice people.
I also see that he loved me deeply. I never fully realized that until the last several years of his life. He was a typical man of the 50s and showing emotion was like speaking a language he never learned. As a side effect of his strokes, though, Dad became less able to control his emotions. He started telling me he was proud of me. He told me he loved me. And as he did, he would choke up and even cry.
Dad also showed a huge amount of love and appreciation for the man I picked to marry.
By the time I got married at 47, Dad had given up on the idea of me ever snagging a man. He stopped asking what was “going on.” My wedding fund had been dissolved into another account. He worried (at times out loud) that I’d never have anyone to take care of me.
That always really pissed me off. I knew my Dad thought I wasn’t whole without a husband. He also thought that I couldn’t attract one because I was doing something very wrong.
After he received the news of my upcoming nuptials, dear Dad told my brother “I hope she doesn’t screw this one up!” After my brother told me that (which was a stupid thing only a man would do) I was mad at my Dad for at least a year.
(As an aside, when I first talked to my Dad about my wedding here’s what he said: You can wear white, honey. Don’t worry…I won’t tell anybody. That was the delightful, funny side of my Dad!)
Just about the time Melvin was due to walk me down the aisle, now that I was sharing my life with an amazing man, I started to get it. My Pops was scared for me. He knew life was hard. (See below.) He wanted me to be happy, and knew how much having a good partner would enrich my life. He didn’t want me to have to face every event, every decision and every success in my life without a #1 fan.
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At 47 I learned that my Dad was still smarter than me. Even though he was living circa Father Knows Best times, he knew something I didn’t know. Life is better with a partner who makes you feel safe and special and, yes, taken care of.
Unfortunately it took his death to help me realize something super significant about my Dad: he was the man he wanted to be. Though there were many ways he ticked me off and disappointed me, Dad achieved exactly what he set out to do in life: be a good Father.