My Dad died this morning. It wasn't expected (however as an easterner who appreciated his “rot gut” Vodka, meat and cheese his lifestyle wasn’t optimal), yet he wasn't ill as far we knew. He simply sat down in a chair at home, covered up with a blanket and slipped away. What's odd and most prevalent at this very moment is the not knowing what to do. Do I call my boss? Friends? Check in? So I made coffee. That's all I felt to do at that moment. You're never ready to hear the words. But that’s part of the price of admission for living this beautiful life. We all must exit, stage left.
The phone has been ringing for three hours, and I find myself telling the same stories again and again. Assuring the sad voices on the other end of the line. Breaking down in tears. Throwing my head back with laughter and remembrance. And saying yes, I know you're there for me.
My Dad and I (or should I say mostly I) struggled for a very long time to find a balance, to define a father-daughter relationship. But I can say with absolute certainty that by some grace, we clicked, we got each other in the last handful of months. He called to check in and I did the same. He was interested and curious about me. We bemoaned the Steelers losing their Wild Card. It didn’t feel awkward anymore to tell him "I love you”. It changed from the perfunctory "luvya" to something real and authentic.
He’s the reason I'm funny. And some of the reason I’m awkward with men. He’s the reason I love music and Johnny Cash and Jerry Lewis. The reason I'm strong and independent. And the reason I chose to write in this moment, to be able to better express through the words here more than I could muster on those phone calls that came today. To make sense of the sadness and find comfort in community. So now you know my Dad today.