I think I discovered why my Dad has been on my mind so much lately.
I received a Facebook friend request from a high school friend. I am not a fan of Facebook (fb) but I accepted his request assuming, like most fb stuff goes with me, that was the end of it. I then got a message from him with an email address and asking me the dreaded question, "how is your family?" This is generally translated as, "how are your Mom and Dad, husband and kids?" Most everyone knew and loved my parents and at 45 they assume I have a husband and kids. Generally when I message back that Mom, Dad and Husband have all passed and I have no kids I don't hear from them again. I understand, people just don't know what to say and I am fine with it. Instead of my normal everyone is dead message, I sent an email with basic generalities...no kids, I live in Arizona...blah, blah, blah. To my surprise I got an email back telling me about his kids, wife etc. and asking me more about what I have been up to. I replied with the everyone is dead email but with a few more details and I just knew for sure that would be the end of this reunion. NOT!! He emailed me back and said some really moving things about my Dad.
My Dad was a difficult man to get along with to say the least. I cut ties with him as an adult because we just didn't see eye to eye on anything. It was TJ who encouraged me to reconnect with my Dad and with much prodding I did. I saw him for the first time in years when TJ and I went to my brother's wedding in Las Vegas. He and TJ became very good buddies and my Dad moved to Arizona to live his last couple of years close to TJ and I. He was at our house every night for dinner and he spent time watching TJ build stuff. My Dad apologized to me for all the bad stuff and we got to say "I Love You" to each other. When he became ill he pleaded with TJ and I to not let him die in a hospital and not to stick him in one of our back bedrooms all alone. TJ rearranged our living room to accomodate a hospital bed and with the help of hospice we brought him home to spend his last hours. He lasted less than 24 hours at our home but the last thing he said to me was, "Where the hell am I?" I said to him, "You are home Dad, you are with TJ & I." He passed away the next morning at home, just what he wanted.
Here are some excerpts from our emails when my friend spoke of my Dad:
I thought your Dad was quite a character. I always got the feeling that you and him did not see eye to eye on several things. I always wanted to talk to him after I joined the service but I always missed him and never knew where he lived after the house on the lake sold. Your Dad treated me well and I never forget people who were nice to me when I was a young man.
I am glad that you and Rex reconciled, I am sure you would have had great regrets had you not done so. Your Dad seemed like a well traveled person who had been around a bit and he always had some stories that mad me laugh. I think he thought I was a bit crazy at times and probably useless at other times. He wanted young people to do the right thing and I knew it by the way he took time to tell me stuff. He had probably made a lot of the same mistakes so he didn’t see the need for anyone else to repeat them.
Reading these kind words about my Dad made me cry. A lot of people can justifiably say lots of bad things about my Dad but the above words show that he did make a good impression on some people. He was my Dad, the only one I had, and I loved him regardless of his past.
When you measure someone's worth, put the tape around the heart instead of the head ~ Covey