Happy Birthday

I was blessed with having two fathers growing up, one that fathered me and the other that raised me. I have always loved my biological father but our connection has cooled considerable as I have gotten older, he moved away, somewhat became a hermit and now I think feels as though he’s been out of touch too long to make a real connection with me or my daughters. As I tell people regularly – that’s ok – I can love him from a far and he knows that I do.

Then I have the man who raised me, he came into our lives when I was 5 or 6, he married my mother when I was 10, and moulded me during my “spongy” years. I have my wicked sense of humor from him, and my taste of off humor movies. I didn’t realize that until recently, when I spoke to my pop (bio-dad) about watching Fargo over the weekend and laughing about it, he told me he hated that movie and never made it past the opening credits – I was shocked since it’s one of the funniest dark comedies I can think of and wondered aloud where I got the love of those types of movies from. He paused for a long time then said one work “CHUCK”.

He passed to me his love of food and cooking, my two step sisters have it to a smaller degree, but when he moved in with my mother and I, he decided he wanted to cook and after the first few years of trial and error, we always ate well. He would clip the recipes from the newspaper, or from a magazine (Cooks, or Sunset) then work to recreate what he saw in the pictures. While other teenagers hated going home for anything, I was one that was home by 5:30 sharp each night to make sure I was there in time for dinner. More over I would have to pick and choose which of my friends got to come with me depending on what we were eating. Even after I moved out, anytime I had a food related problem I would call and when he would answer I’d have to tell him quick it was a food emergency so he wouldn’t pass me off to my mom. When I would come over to visit, I would spend the time before dinner sitting at the counter watching him cook and picking his brain on what he was cooking and adding to the pot. The time after was always dedicated to my mom and whatever craft we were working on at the time.

I learned from him the harsh realities of life, and honesty of living, he held no punches with me growing up and while many things were hard to hear, it was harder to learn them on my own. Even writing this now I can see him rolling his eyes and calling me Sarah Bernhardt or Miss Scarlet – I do tend to have a flair for the dramatic still. Although he would know, since I learned that drama from him, in a more subtle way, something I appreciate now as I have gotten older. He taught me about creating a storyline that people love and want to follow, especially how to hold their attention when speaking in public. At parties people would flock to him to hear the latest family news or funny think he picked up while reading the paper, he would have them in tears at the end of the night. I watched him pass that torch to me with pride one Easter Sunday and then sit back letting me take the reigns.

We lost him four years ago, after a brief but dramatic illness. The loss still cuts me deeply, so much so that this is the first time I have tried to put to words anything about him. As I sit here I struggle with finding a way to convey what I’ve learned and lost with him, and how even though I miss him terribly I do not wish him here suffering like he did. I do not grieve for lost words or unfinished businessness. I believe he knew he was dying even if mom and I didn’t and he made a point of spending time with both of us alone and telling us his goodbye.

Today would have been his 77th birthday, I still miss him like crazy, but as I sat here today, having lunch with my mom and quietly telling stories to eachother, I realize the hurt is starting to fade and the memories – while they still have a bite – it is familiar and well worn, easier to take. Maybe tonight will be the night I pull out his favorite beer and sit down to tell stories about him to my girls, maybe they’re ready to hear them. More than likely this will be the extent of my storytelling for the day, although bold – for me at least – this small gesture is really all I’m willing to share just yet. So as I close out this post for the day- small tears blurring my vision, I wish you all a beautiful day and a nostalgic night.

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