My Dad is a good guy for the most part. Really he is. He tries hard and he is a survivor of four rambunctious children who buffaloed him to the max. He thought we were cherubs. My mom? She knew better.
I could tell story after story about my Dad. For example, he was my “go to” man when I wanted to go fishing and my savior when I needed a pumpkin on Halloween even during trick or treating.
He was the one who took me to buy my prom dress and as I tried on dress after dress, he sat in a dainty little chair made for an anorexic woman, with his ankles crossed saying “How do? How do?” To every woman who passed. They all sneered at him, wondering what a full grown man was doing squeezing his ass into a Barbie doll sized chair. I owe him for that.
When we would go fishing, he hated hooking catfish and would take immediate action to stun it and throw it back into the water as quickly as possible. He reigned catfish ninja status there.
During one of my mother’s “I had enough of all your shit!” episodes, he took all four of us fishing by himself. We all lined up on the shoreline and cast our lines into the water. Soon enough, our lines were all tangled into a heaping mess and we all started screaming about who’s fault it was. My Dad, ever so calmly and ninja like, grabbed his big buck knife and cut all four lines “chomp chomp chomp chomp”. He grabbed a beer, popped it open and said “Start again”. And so we did. Just like that.
As a single person on Valentines Day, my dad would make sure I got a box of candy regardless of where I lived. He once broke every stinking mailbox in the entire apartment complex until he could get mine open only to shove a small box of Russell Stovers chocolates inside.
I was broke as a church mouse and would do laundry at my parents house once a week. My Dad knew I loved the TV guide and would buy me one every week. Tucked inside was always money from his secret “mom knows nothing” stash.
When I was first married and struggling to pay the bills, every Sunday morning my Dad, who worked the midnight shift then, would shove a whole loaf of freshly made Mancini’s bread, hot right out of the oven, into my mailbox. He would leave a message on my answering machine “Patti. This is your Dad. There is something in your mailbox. Get it now before the birds do”. Every Sunday morning… Without fail.
After my Mom died, I so remember seeing the broken man, the man who could not stop crying and the man who couldn’t get past the thought that he buried his wife.
There came a point when, after my Mom died, that he lived his life and I lived mine. We would see each other and talk when he would stop at my house to have a quick cup of coffee on his way to work. He would babble on about this or that and then be on his way. Hence, his newest nickname, The Five Minute Man.
Now, my Dad is older and is surviving another ordeal that he shouldn’t have to. He is in pain, mentally and physically, and is slowly declining. I miss the Dad I used to have, the one who would chase me while screaming “When I get to you I’m gonna beat your ass!”, the one who would club a catfish so I wouldn’t get stung, the one who would open my beer before I was legal and say “you’ve had enough. Now have a beer”.
Nothing lasts forever. Nothing does. Treasure every moment. Remember everything.
I love you, Dad. Stay… Just a little while longer.