Nineteen years ago, I received a call that changed my life. My mother told me my father had died. Even thinking about it today makes my stomach turn.
My father was the kind of man who couldn’t walk pass someone who was hungry without providing them with a meal – or some cash for food. He was generous to a fault and was often taken advantage of.
He worked all his life, rarely missing a day. And his job was not an easy one. He was in construction. It was a young man’s game, but he did it until he was sixty-two years old.
I’ll always remember him at my college graduation. He was so proud. He had worked hard to give me the best education he could. He sent his daughter to an elite school, a school attended by the daughters of important men and women.
He was a rock in my life, always there for my sibling and me. He walked me down the aisle and gave me away, but not fully. I would always be his “baby doll;” he would always worry about me and put me first. We danced together at my wedding, neither of us knowing that he would be gone two years later.
I was living a thousand miles away when he died. I spoke with him every night, but wish I was there, in person. I managed to see him the weekend before he passed away. It was Super Bowl weekend and we had a mini party in his hospice room. As he was dying, he asked me about my husband and my marriage. He asked how my husband treated me. In the end, he was still worried about me, and what would happen when he was gone. (I refused to believe he was dying – in my naivete, I thought he would pull through and be a miracle case. Shame on me for that.) But I believe I offered him some comfort when I told him “Mark is a good husband. He looks out for me and treats me the way you would if you were here.” He said, “Good. I thought he was a good man. That’s why I let him marry you.”
His absence is what I feel the most. There are days when I want to pick up the phone to ask him about his day and tell him about mine. He wasn’t there when my children were born. He wasn’t there to walk my sister down the aisle. He missed much but gave us much. I think about him every day. Gone, but not forgotten.
RIP. 1933 – 1999