"When a lovely flame dies, smoke gets in your eyes" ~ The Platters
I don't write much about my dad on this blog. I mention him on occasion in reference to his Poppa status to Q and Z. It's a shame that I don't talk about him more, and it makes me realize just how much I take him for granted. I don't mean to. He's pretty amazing. I hope he knows that I think so.
Today my dad turns 66 years young. And I truly mean the young part -- he's in awesome shape, much better than I am at 34. He rides his bike every day along the coast in Pacifica for a couple of hours. It's become an integral part of his day, part of his routine. It's more than exercise for him. It's catharsis. It's physical and mental health. He started cycling regularly when my mom was sick. It was his only time just for him. He spent the rest of his days and nights caring for my mom. He retired from his design business. Closed up shop to be with her.
Since my mom passed, my dad continues to give much of his time to others. He spends every Thursday (and often other days of the week) helping his 96-year-old father with errands, taking him to appointments, and even accompanying him to social events (yes, my grandfather gets out more than I do). He volunteers regularly for his church. And of course he spends every Monday with Q. When I was on maternity leave, he came over every Friday as well to take Q to the park and to visit with Z. There were some mornings when I was counting the minutes until he would arrive, I was so overwhelmed with the transition to two. I'm pretty sure I didn't thank him enough for being there for us. He's not the kind of guy who responds well to gushing anyway.
When I was a little girl, my dad and I had a special relationship. He would sing to me (see the song quote above for an example). We would dance together in the evenings when my mom was at school. He was the funniest guy I knew. But as sometimes happens, we grew a little distant through my teen years. I could still talk to him about movies and politics and pop culture. But let's just say he wasn't my confidante when it came to all of the angst that arises through the hormone-heavy teen years. Then when I went off to college, I would call home and say hi to him and, yes, school was good, and then . . . is Mom there? My mom and I obviously had more to talk about. Or at least she was really good at listening to me babble on endlessly. I complained that he wasn't interested in talking to me. He was in his own world. He always started listening a little too late in the story ("Who's going bowling?" "Um, nobody, Dad. I was talking about Spanish class.") We often communicated through my mom. I think she worried about what kind of relationship my dad and I would have if she wasn't around.
But there's no need to worry, Mom. We've come together in the ways we know how. We talk more on the phone both out of necessity and because Q and Z provide easy bonding opportunities. Even when he's being a little spacy or seemingly uninterested in what I'm talking about, I know he's there for me. And I hope he knows I'm there for him, too. Whenever we go to a wedding, I'm proud to be his dance partner. I'll be his date for the movies any time. When someone compliments my fashion sense, I credit my dad for always looking so put-together. And when he wants to talk about how much he misses my mom, I'm readily available to listen and to commiserate.
Happy Birthday to a wonderful dad, doting Poppa, and all-around honorable man! Thank you for helping me to raise my children and for continuing to help me grow. I hope you can forgive the gushfest on your birthday.