Father's Day is coming. Like it or not. This will be my tenth unhappy fatherless day. As the big day approaches I can't help but think of all of the things my dad was to me. And I can't help but think of the things I miss most about my dad.
I really miss the way his left arm got really, really tan from hanging it out the car window to smoke all summer long. Yet his right arm was pasty white. It would have been no big deal if he wore long-sleeve dress shirts. But he didn't. Only short sleeves and a tie for him.
I also really miss report card days. Those were some crazy times in our house. My brother Dat would straight up lie to my Dad's face on a daily basis saying he was doing great in school. His report card told another story. Every freaking time. I can remember driving home from the school and my dad just slamming my brother's head off of the passenger's side window the entire ride home. Still makes me laugh.
Another time my dad was going to have knee surgery the same exact day that report cards were being handed out. I could not believe my luck. He would be in the hospital and way too busy/drugged/in pain to remember report cards. I was very wrong. I remember going to the hospital and the first thing he said was how'd you do on your report card? He got so mad that he whipped out that oxygen tube and lit up a cigarette.
My dad was really calm and very laid back. But we still found ways to really tick him off. One time, pretty sure it was another report card day (he really had a thing for education), I was the one in trouble. I just remember him yelling at me to take out the garbage. My mom chimed in that it was actually one of my brother's jobs. My dad's response was, well if she's going to act like a boy we'll treat her like a boy. Ummmm what the hell does that even mean?
Another thing that really got my dad's blood boiling was the all-girls Catholic high school he sent me to. This may have been the maddest I ever saw him in my entire life. It cost a small fortune to send me there. And one day I came home and announced that my school was changing the sign of the cross. Instead of "In the name of the father, the son, and the holy spirit" it changed to "In the name of the creator, the redeemer, and the sustainer of life".
I think they were trying to take the gender out of God. Perhaps implying God could be, might be, possibly be, a woman. Not on his dime they weren't.
My dad wasn't a male chauvinistic pig. He was totally okay with women wearing slacks, voting and even pumping their own gas. But the implication God was in any way, shape, or form a woman -- that wasn't gonna fly. Not even a little bit.
I know all of the medical experts say my dad died of pancreatic cancer, but I'm pretty sure this incident is what really killed him.
I remember thinking that I really didn't care what the hell I was supposed to say, but when I saw my dad's reaction I knew I could really take advantage. I knew that if I got an F in religion, I would not get in trouble. I got the F in religion. And I did not get in trouble. I saw pride in my dad's eyes that report card day. I still weep thinking about it.
My dad loved the Chicago White Sox. Like, maybe more than he loved us. He watched every single game in his La-Z-Boy. He loved lemonade and was always on the hunt for the biggest cup possible to drink it out of. One summer my brother found a sixty-four ounce plastic cup called "the hog". My dad was in heaven. It was the little things.
My dad taught me so many things that I didn't even realize until I had my own kids. He used to go nuts if we spilled something and used too many paper towels to clean it up. He was constantly ripping paper towels in half. I still feel a pang of guilt each time I use paper towels. If only he had lived to see the select-a-size. He would have been in heaven. Well if he wasn't already in heaven.
When my mom died I remember making all of the arrangements. The funeral director suggested we get a limo for the procession. My dad said no. I argued the fact. My dad simply said we're not limo people. And we all crammed into his little, smoke-filled, green Ford Contour instead. That's one thing I did not inherit from my dad. I think I'm a limo person.
I definitely inherited his sense of humor. I also inherited his laidback demeanor. And unfortunately I've been told I inherited the way he would talk in what he thought was a whisper. I did not, however, inherit his liver. That I got from my mom. I was able to drink my dad under the table by the time I was eighteen.
My dad was such an awesome funny guy. He taught me most things by example. I try to be like him everyday. My brothers and I each have one child that totally reminds us of our dad and it makes us happy. I spent a lot of these past ten years crying. If tears had calories I'd be obese.
But this year I'm remembering all the good times. The times that mattered. The memories I'll have forever. Like the way he liked to scratch his back with a fork. And put his feet up on the table to have an after-dinner smoke. Or compliment my mom by telling her a meal she prepared made his top five list.
And I will laugh. Like the time the gynecologist was trying to explain how dire the situation was with our mom and my dad said, now I'm no genie-ologist, but this doesn't sound good.
The thing my dad taught me the most was to laugh. Even in the worst of times. There is humor in everything.
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