Saturday, January 14, 2006

Greeting Card Sentiments

Today, while watching television, I saw a commercial for “Walk The Line”. It’s the movie about Johnny Cash’s life. It made me think about Dad, the way so many things can these days, and I began to wonder if I really remember things about him. Like, I’ve always thought that he liked Johnny Cash’s music, but did he really like it or did I just think he liked it because we gave him a tape/CD one year and he pretended to like it, or am I just making things up to try to hold on to him?

I think, I am remembering true things about him. Believe me, my dad wasn’t the greatest dad in the world. In fact, sometimes he was horrible, but I still loved him. I still love the good, generous things about him.

Mostly though, I am sad today, because I find myself thinking about him more now than I did when he was alive. I am ashamed to admit that I wasn’t a good daughter to him, that in small ways, even in adulthood, I found small ways (consciously or not) to get back at him for not being the “greatest” dad. For example, I am now realizing that part of the reason I didn’t send him birthday/father’s day cards (as mentioned in a previous post) was because I never felt like he celebrated my birthday so why should I celebrate his?

How sad is that? How petty. Now I am left with years of birthday & father’s day cards (yes, I did actually buy them – just never sent them) that are of no use to either of us. Yet, I can’t seem to get rid of them. They’ve been boxed up, moved around, and thumbed through so many times over the years that donating them to some charity just doesn’t seem right. So I will probably wrap them in ribbon, box them up, move them around, and thumb through them for the rest of my life. Maybe, just maybe, those greeting card sentiments that never seemed quite right will remind me that our time here is limited, and telling someone you love them is more important than hanging on to past hurts.

Tuesday, January 10, 2006


TheHusband really is the sweetest guy I know. The other day we were talking about him getting a new job (he's had the interview and is just waiting for a call back) and how he would need to buy new clothes if he got the job.

Turns out the dress code at the new place is business casual (khakis, collared shirts, etc). TheHusband only has one collared shirt (not including his nice white dress shirts) and the following conversation ensued:

TH: Well, I do have the one black polo, but I won't wear that. It's too bad, because I like that shirt.

Me: Why won't you wear that shirt?

TH: I don't want you to be reminded of why I bought it.

Me: Why you. . . ? (light dawns on blond head) Oh. I never even thought of it before.

TH: D'oh! But now you'll remember, won't you?

Me: Yes, but wear it anyway. Besides it looks good on you.

Yeah, I don't remember many specific details (such as what shirts were bought) of the first couple of weeks after the fire/funeral. But now that he mentions it, the funeral is the first time I ever saw him were that particular shirt. And yes, it will remind me of that time, but it will also remind me of how sweet and caring TheHusband is. I mean, seriously, how many guys would decide not to wear a shirt because it might have bad memories for someone else?

God definitely knew what He was doing when He gave me TheHusband. =)

Wednesday, January 04, 2006

Christmas without. . .

This Christmas season has been very difficult for me. It was the first Christmas without Dad. It's not like he was the boisterous center of attention during Christmas, but, to me, he was the quiet watcher.

My brothers may remember things differently, but to me it seemed that Christmas was Dad's favorite holiday. The lights, the food, the pleasure he got from watching us open our gifts, these are what made it Christmas. When we lived on the farm, Dad would put up the outdoor Christmas lights/decorations each year. He seemed to take particular pleasure from the comments he received from the beet truck drivers. It seems our Christmas lights cheered them up on their middle of the night runs.

I can't remember him ever going to our Christmas pageants at church, but he must have. I can remember sitting squished in the back seat of the car with our peanut bags and Dad driving us around town to see the lights. We only got "peanut bags" (bags filled with unshelled peanuts, fruit, and candy) as we walked out of church following the Christmas pageants, so Dad must have gone to at least a couple of them when I was little.

Then on Christmas morning he would sit quietly off to the side to watch us open our gifts. Every year the small gifts we got for him would be stacked in a small pile beside him. Not until we had opened all of our gifts and were fully distracted would he open his. When we were younger, my brothers and I would get him things like a deck of cards, a box of chocolate covered cherries, or a tin of cookies. As we got older, got jobs, and could afford more there were the small tools and videos. But always, Dad would wait until he thought we weren't looking to open his presents and for a long time I wondered why. Then one year, while I was in high school, I sat and watched him. There was a joy in his eyes that I didn't see at any other time as he watched us open our gifts and be surprised at the simple treasures he and mom had given us. And there was a wishfulness there as well, a yearning for the ability to give us more. With seven kids to raise there wasn't a lot of money left over for lavish gifts and we often received things we needed over things we wanted. How he wished he could have given us more.

But that year, my most precious gift was seeing how he took joy in giving to us what he could. He loved watching us, discovering what our favorite gift had been. Seeing the once neat pile of gifts be replaced by the chaos of flying paper and newly emptied boxes, while the Christmas tree lights blinked silently behind us. And I think that, while he appreciated the small baubles we gave him, each year our greatest gift to him was letting him watch us build our dreams from the simple things he gave us.

This is what I'll miss most about Christmas each year. The smile in his eyes, and the quiet laughter, his presence on the periphery of the action, his happiness in my happiness.

Merry Christmas Dad.
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