Dad would have been 88 today. He died eight years ago from Parkinson’s related complications, and I still miss him every day. I miss his dumb jokes, and how he always started laughing halfway through the telling. I miss his “just one more crescent roll” at holiday dinners. I miss his face lighting up when I brought my girls to visit. But mostly, I miss our talks.
Dad was one of my best friends in life and we talked about everything. I trusted him with things I didn’t even tell my best girlfriends, and his advice was my guiding light when life got dark and hard to maneuver. His absence was especially difficult a few years ago when I took a most unexpected road; one that lead to dramatic transformations in my marriage, my family and my faith. In every way, I experienced a metamorphosis – a renaissance, really – and am now happier than I have ever been. However, throughout the process, family members and friends who knew the close bond my Dad and I shared occasionally asked me, “What would your Dad have thought about all this?” Sometimes the question was genuine; other times, it felt denunciatory. Either way, I have given it a lot of thought.
Daddy lived and raised me on a simple code. I have tried to faithfully live by those principles; even through the rockiest of times, I can see in reflection that he has been quietly standing by my shoulder every step of the way – through the lessons he taught me:
- Look for the good in all things. (This was always number one.)
- Love unconditionally.
- Be a good and loyal friend.
- Be kind.
- Do the best you can.
- Take walks.
- Laugh at your own jokes.
- Listen to your head.
- Follow your heart.
- Never, ever give up.
So, what would Daddy have thought about the turns my journey has taken? Well, first he would have told me that he loved me. Then he would have asked me the hard questions. Then, after a very long discussion that involved a lot of laughing and crying and probably a walk to the park – and definitely a metaphorical story about something that happened to him in the Navy during The War – he would have put his arm around me and said, “Sis, follow your heart.”
Then he would have hugged me hard, and told me the one about the farmer and the three-legged chicken… again. He would have been laughing before he got through the first line.