My dad died four years ago today. Three months to the day he was diagnosed with malignant melanoma. It was a sunny, beautiful day like it is today (at least in Ohio). We'd been playing the waiting game for several days, not sure when the end would come, but my dad knew. As sick as he was, the night before he passed away, when I told him goodnight and gave him a hug. He held me so tight, told me he loved me and didn't let go. After several minutes, as I was in a very uncomfortable position and starting to cramp in my legs, I had to let go. I had a feeling that night or the next day would bring the end, as did my sister.
My dad was a very active man. My entire life he was always into something and out and about. He loved doing things with his hands. He especially loved the Christmas Tree Farm. He started the farm when he was 22...bought 204 acres and even though everyone thought he was crazy, he followed his dream. And by the time he passed away, 36 years later, the farm had become extremely successful, and would have been even more successful if he hadn't been so busy with the 50 million other things he had his hands in.
My dad hated his job. He was an extremely intelligent man, who earned his Master's in Chemistry and was the first at the place he worked to have a Master's. A lot of people didn't like that. Nor did they like the fact that my dad expected a lot out of them, and wouldn't kiss butt in order to get higher up. He followed the rules, and people either liked him or hated him for it. This didn't always work in positive ways for my dad though, as he was often looked over for promotions. He had just retired 2 months before his diagnosis, and was looking forward to finally being able to do all the things he wanted to do.
My dad expected a lot out of me. He wanted me to do my best, and he wanted the best for me. I found this hard at times, especially since I didn't see him a lot once I started figure skating because he was working a lot during the times I was free, and I was skating when he was free. I didn't always appreciate what he did for me growing up, as it was difficult to feel grateful to my dad when he kicked my boyfriend out for things we didn't do, or I got punished or told I wasn't allowed to do things that other kids my age did.
Regardless though, I always knew my dad loved me. He taught me so much. He taught me to work hard (even though I didn't always like trimming trees for as long as he wanted me too), he taught me a lot about money and success, he taught me about monarch butterflies, and gave me strong work ethic (same thing as working hard?). He also taught me to do what makes me happy, and not to settle. I'm not sure he knew about that one, but after seeing him struggle in his job for so long, and retire, only to pass away, I don't want to be stuck in a place I don't like while living my life.
I have many memories that I love. Spending time on the tree farm, his smile, spending time together on the beach and watching him be an absolute nut while in the ocean. Vacations, and his support through my skating. How can I forget the year we won Nationals when I heard him on the sidelines yelling for us late in our routine? How could I forget hearing him yell for me as I graduated?
I took care of my dad when he was sick. I have a lot of pain from that time still. But a few jems did come from that time. Like the night he woke me up just to tell me he loved me.
I still miss my dad every day. Although the pain is not at the forefront like it once was, it is still there, and every once in awhile strikes deep. I don't believe it will ever get better, as I think the fact that my dad is missing so much that has happened/is happening/will happen in my life is not easy for me. He won't be there in person (I know he will be in spirit) to walk me down the aisle on Saturday. He won't ever meet his grandchildren (if I have them). He didn't see me graduate from grad school, never met my future husband, didn't see my success at the farm. There are still times I think it would be so great to call him because I know he would know how to fix something or give me the advice I need.
Growing up with my dad was not always easy, but he truly helped make me the person I am today. I have a lot of his characteristics. I miss him dearly. I couldn't write enough to do him justice.