Wednesday, August 9, 2006

Losses...but mostly my Gain

I seem to be reading a lot of posts from fellow bloggers lately about their parents. These posts have been predominantly about an absent parent, lost through death or other circumstance. They're extremely touching posts. I have literally cried reading them. But not because I understand their pain.

I, thankfully, have both of my parents in my life. I even have 2 in-laws. I have lost 5 grandparents, and one in-law grandfather. (Never met Craig's other grandparents.) I lost almost all of my grandparents before I graduated high school. Two of them just months before I graduated. My paternal grandmother was the last to leave. She passed a few months after I graduated.

But my point isn't about missing them (which I do) or that I know loss.

Because I don't want to know the loss of a parent. I saw my parents lose their parents, and it sucks, no matter how old you are. I guess it's an inevitable part of life. But it still sucks.

That being said, in keeping with my resolve to be less grumpy and more of a glass-half-full kind of gal, I want to talk about my Dad. Because he's still here.

I've mentioned before, my Dad was a career military man. 9 years in the Navy, and 11 in the Coast Guard. His father was also a military man. But he was killed in WWII at the young age of 26. He had a 2 year old son and a young wife at home. So, when my Dad enlisted, I'm sure my grandmother's heart skipped a beat. My grandmother remarried and had 6 more children, but my Dad kept his father's last name.

My Dad said he always felt "different" from his siblings. I think he means he felt he was treated differently because he was another man's son...but I may be projecting. He's told me before that he moved out of his parents' home as soon as he possibly could.

Now, my grandfather (My Dad's Dad, though not his father) was not the most expressive person. In fact, there are few times that I can clearly remember him even cracking a smile. But he was a farmer, and a hard worker who expected his kids to work hard as well.

So, combine this with going into the military and my Dad was also not the greatest at expressing himself. I remember some of my friends, and later, boyfriends, would admit they were a bit scared of my Dad. Because he didn't crack a smile that often. Because he has sort of a dry sense of humor that some people just don't get. Because...

I started to feel the tide turn as I was graduating from junior college and contemplating the direction of my young life. I remember sitting in my bedroom and crying because I knew I needed a newer (better-running) car to go away to school, but I knew I couldn't afford the car and school. My Dad entered my room and sat on my bed with me. Rubbed my back. Asked what I was upset about. And I told him. He told me to not worry about the car and just go to school and do my best. So I went and graduated Summa Cum Laude. I did my best. My Dad (and the rest of my family) was at my commencement with a video camera, and that elusive smile.

But really the dam has broken on my Dad's ability or willingness to express his emotions more and more as the years go by. It broke a little more when I got married.


When his grandchildren arrived, the dam was torn down.

My Dad retired and was home like me most of the time. We spent more time together. I got to know him as a person, rather than just as my dad. You know what? He's a great guy.

If you've ever seen my Dad with his grandkids, it's really fun even to just watch. He plays with them. He changes diapers. Even poopy ones. He's cleaned up barf. He's been wrestled by two 2-year-olds and two 4-year-olds at the same time.

He has a smile on his face the majority of the time. And he belly laughs at the things they say and do. A loud, tears-in-your-eyes kind of belly laugh.

I'm so glad I get to see that.

I'm truly lucky.

I love you Dad. Posted by Picasa

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Karen said...

Just lovely, Heather. And lucky.

Sandy said...

Now that made me cry...

Nikkie said...

That is just so sweet.

Waya said...

I'm also lucky to have both parents alive and so is my in-laws. I really do understand how fortunate I am to have them around. That was beautifully written. I wrote about my Dad too and would love to share with you as well. Thanks for reading!

http://www.beforebaby.com/waya/2006/06/14/my-dad-a-king-in-my-eyes/

Heather said...

WAYA, just left a comment on that post. Thanks for sharing it with me!

Bonnie B said...

Your dad sounds like a special guy. It reminds me how lucky I am to have my parents still living-- they are pretty cool too.
Your dad has a nice smile

Harmonica Man said...

Very nice - I love a happy ending! Sometimes it just takes a little time to soften up a dad. After years of having to be responsible for the kids, grandkids are the perfect excuse to relax and have fun.

Jaime said...

Heather, your post made me tear up a bit, too. I am glad you realize how lucky you are and can appreciate this time. My dad was going to be an awesome grandpa, too. He could not have been more excited. From the moment I told him I was exepecting I talked to him more than I had in the last 10 years. I had to talk him out of coming the day I was in labor and he was in Rochester by 7:00 AM the next morning. We have the best picture of him holding newborn Kiana. That was the last time I saw him since he passed away of a heart attack the day Kiana turned 3 months old. He was 53. Everytime Kiana does something new I wish he could share it. I am sad for Kiana that she'll never know a great grandpa like M & K have but I am so happy for your family. I love the wagon picture!

 
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