Listen, he wasn’t the “Best Dad Ever,” and quite frankly, I hate when people say that at funerals. There was only ever one Best Dad Ever, and he was all but forgotten the moment his wife went ahead and invented the rosary.
So, he wasn’t the best ever, but he was mine. And now he’s not. Well, not “not,” but he is gone. Absent if you will. His likeness still sits there in the 11″ X 16″ budget-friendly (read: plexi face and plastic trim) frame that’s nestled in the corner of my bedroom. Sitting next to his wife with his back towards me, her arm draped over him as they sat one sunny day far and long ago, waiting with us for the Fantasy Island Wild West Show to begin.
At the time my three were much younger, and jacked up at the prospect that they would very soon be jacked up on the sugar from the cotton candy, which was promised to follow the show. They were jacked even further in the knowledge that with the show, they were about to experience some really real and honest-to-gosh shoot ’em up cowboy action, complete with guns a-blazing, fists a-flying and bad guys a-plenty being thrown from the roof of the local saloon.
Trust me, the show lived up to its reputation. The kids even received “honorary deputy” badges afterwards. Dad and I did not. Dad wasn’t upset by that, but I was.
The aforementioned picture was captured by C of course, as – had I captured it – it never would have become the moment it did. In it, they’re sitting and talking. About what, I’ve no idea. About what, I’m sure inconsequential. None of that matters now, does it? They talked, C captured the moment, the Wild West Show went on as scheduled. The picture was later 3 X 5ishly printed and placed on their fridge, where it has sat ever since, except for that one time I stole it in order to scan it.
We all enjoyed ourselves, and we can all regale in the experience today. Well, all but one of us. Because he’s gone, but that’s OK. For, like k~’s grandmother saying that she would be in a better place when she passed, I feel that dad is as well. Besides, he may be gone, but he’s not forgotten. And no matter how much he wished that he were, he won’t be. His impact on life was no less than the others who have left me this year. He counted. He counts still. He made a life that didn’t exist before him, a life that couldn’t exist without him.
So C sleeps, and I lie here staring at that damned picture, framed in cheap plastic. And I miss him again. Miss the pride he would’ve felt in knowing of our family expansion. Miss the advice he could have provided me in this endeavor. Miss just hearing his voice say “I’ll remember that!” every time I caught him with a verbal jab. I used to always respond with “no, no you won’t,” and he never did. I miss him; the man, the mentor, the bastard, the dad that I knew, the dad that I did love, and the dad that I still do.
Could I get rid of that picture, and save me some grief? I suppose I could. It’s only with me because it was a bum print intended to be given to my mom (don’t worry, she has the good copy) at dad’s funeral. But I don’t want to. I like being able to see him as I once did. Draped in mom’s arm, talking about something inconsequential before the start of the Wild West Show at Fantasy Island. I like being able to remember my dad as he was. As he will hopefully again someday be, and as I will hopefully again someday be able to see.
So in reading back through this (you still can’t believe I actually proof-read these, can you?), I suppose that in the end it wasn’t such a sad post after all. Odd, considering the fact that I was literally bawling like a two year old who had just spilt their ice cream over a sewer grate the night I originally wrote it down. Possibly as my friend suggested, while I’ll never get over dad’s passing, maybe I am getting used to it. I hope so, almost as much as I hope that someday we’ll meet again he and I, some sunny day.