Tuesday, June 21, 2011

What a dad!

Father's Day is a little weird to me now that my dad is gone. I mean, I see all the commercials telling me to go buy my dad a new phone or a new grill and I think to myself "Nope - I'd get him the latest Stephen King book. He'd like that more than a new phone, anyway." I hear the sermon on Sunday morning talking about how dads need to take their roles seriously and tell their kids they love them and I think to myself "My dad could have taught a class on how to make your kids feel loved." I see all the Father's Day cards and I think to myself "Man - I'd love to be shopping for one of those." I see a man standing in a restaurant and think to myself "He's cute - I wonder if he's single."

Wait - that has nothing to do with Father's Day. How'd THAT get in there?

ANYWAY, I had the PERFECT dad. And there's LITERALLY not ONE day that has passed in the last 5 years that I haven't missed him so much that my stomach hurts. So Father's Day really isn't any different than any other day to me - I miss him no matter what the occasion. But it gives me the perfect excuse to tell YOU how fun he was and share some of my favorite memories with you, if you'll humor me . . .

One of my favorite memories happened when I was in high school and we were driving home from playing tennis together as a family. My dad was driving, my mom was in the front passenger seat, and my sisters and I were in the back. We were almost home and my dad stopped at a stop sign that was about 50 yards from our street. As soon as the car came to a stop, he yelled "CHINESE FIRE DRILL!!" and then he jumped out of the car and started running. Now, in case you've lived under a rock for the last few decades and are not familiar with what a Chinese Fire Drill is, allow me to explain. When someone in the car yells "Chinese Fire Drill," everyone in the car has to jump out, run around the car, and then get back into their seats so that you can drive on. So when my dad called the Drill, my mom and sisters and I jumped out and began running around the car, laughing and squealing like 10 year olds. I remember jumping back into my seat and seeing that my dad was not back in HIS seat as the driver. There was a second of confusion as we looked around to see where the heck he was. And that's when we saw him up ahead - running all the way to the house with this goofy high-kneed run that he used to do to make us laugh. He turned around and waved at us over his shoulder as we all began laughing and squealing all over again. So I quickly jumped out of the car again and into the driver's seat and drove us all home. My dad was waiting in the driveway for us, cracking up.

That was my dad!

[Excuse me while I go get some Kleenex to blow my nose . . .]

There was another time when I was in a tennis match right after school - maybe like 4 o'clockish. I was playing a girl from another school but I don't remember that it was a particularly important match - just one of the many that we played throughout the year. I hit a good shot down the line and won the point and that's when I heard my dad cheering from the other side of the fence. I hadn't expected him to take off work early to be at this relatively unimportant match. But there he was, sitting in a chair next to my mom and cheering me on, telling me to "go to for the jugular!"

Man - I had a great dad!

[Be right back - apparently I'm gonna need the whole stinkin' BOX of Kleenex . . .]

I remember when I was in junior or high school my mom LOVED Payday candy bars so my dad started putting one under her pillow every now and then so that she'd have a little surprise when she'd go to lay down for the night - now THAT'S my idea of romance, people! My younger sister and I, being the selfless, loving daughters that we were, lodged an official complaint about not getting any candy bars under OUR pillows. A few nights later, when I went to bed, I found Reese's Peanut Butter Cups under MY pillow. I came busting out of my room to run down and give my dad a hug and, as I did, I ran into Erin who was also running downstairs with a Snickers in her hand. I remember he just laughed when we ran into his room, candy bars in tow, and tackled him.

Seriously - wasn't he a great dad?

[Anybody have any Paxil I can borrow??]

I remember him calling me when I was away at college and law school. He'd just call me to check on me and to tell me that he loved me. I used to love getting his calls because I knew even then how lucky I was to have a dad who loved me so much and never left me in doubt of that. And I'm so thankful for that now because I have so many years ahead of me that will be empty of his voice telling me he loves me or telling me to go for the jugular. But at least I have his voice in my head - he made sure that I heard it all so many times that I'd never forget it. And as cliche as it sounds, I know that he is still with me, looking out for me and loving me from afar. I mean, I don't really know how it works or how God arranges it but I know that Heaven just wouldn't be Heaven for my dad if he weren't able to keep an eye on his girls.

What a GREAT dad.

Now if he could just talk to God about getting some Reese's under my pillow . . .


Angela Darwin said...

You are too cute! I wish I would have had the chance to meet your dad. I know I would have loved him. I too am a practicle joker, so y'all sound like my kind of family! Hope to see you all soon.

Anonymous said...

Like you Catherine, I remember that "drill" very well. And your blog was great! But I worry that isn't very PC to call it Chinese Fire Drill anymore. I mean I don't want to make THEM mad - we owe them too much money!


Anonymous said...

Awwww, your dad sounds AWESOME! I'm so sorry he isn't with you anymore but it sounds like he made a lasting impression on you. Very bittersweet post!

Benjamin K. Sanchez said...

Catherine, I have enjoyed your posts tremendously, and this tribute to your dad is the best yet! Keep up with happiness and wit! :)