March 7, 2016: My father passed away ten years ago today. A week before he died we talked and reminisced about so much, a continuation of our walks and talks over the many years together. Between the horrifying pain of late stage cancer and morphine-induced hallucinations, he spoke with his ever-present humility and wisdom. He wanted to know how I was doing, family first and foremost in his mind. He asked me to search his drawers for heirloom pocket watches to give to my brothers. He wanted me to find his Navy documents, so proud of his service in World War II.
Dad regretted that he didn't have anything special for me--but of course he had given me so much of his time and love for so many years that there was nothing more than I wanted or needed. His unconditional love, his unwavering faith in me, his ongoing support through tough times, were gifts for many lifetimes. Yet, as he inquired again, I shyly asked about the picture on his dresser, a second grade Christmas present l'd made almost 50 years before (the misspelled words "Marry Christmas, age 7 1/2, second grade" still legible in pencil on the back). Could I have it? Of course, he hoarsely replied.
After Dad died, a few of his trinkets were divided among the five of us children. I opted for his "Joseph and the amazing many colored" bathrobe that Mom had made for him years ago. He wore that now-ragged bathrobe for years; still, in my mind's eye he is wearing it yet. I took the photograph in the glass stand, wondering why it was given its place of honor with his few other mementoes. Maybe he never got around to moving it? Maybe it reminded him of our younger days when life was easy, hugs were numerous, and smiles easy to evoke? Regardless, he must have seen that picture each day, as I now do in its place on my dresser, coming with me even as we move from house to house, a visual remembrance of this incredible loving man.
I miss you each and every day and minute, Dad.