Two years ago today my father passed away.
Two years ago today I had my last conversation with the first man in my life.
Wednesday, May 31, 2006 was not an ordinary day. I was supposed to be at work, but was called the evening before by the youth minister at our church. He asked me to chaperone a youth trip to Atlanta. After maneuvering my work schedule a bit (thanks to my boss at the time), I agreed. So I was instructed to be in the church parking lot at 2:30 pm the next day to board the bus for the overnight trip.
That morning I slept in a little and packed for the trip. I then called my mother to see if she wanted me to bring some lunch over as I came to their house. She had agreed to drive me to the church so I would not have to leave my car there overnight. Dad had gone to play golf and we weren’t sure exactly when he would be back. So I brought my packed bag and grabbed some lunch for me and my mom and headed over to my parent’s house. Mom and I talked a little and then Dad came home from his golf game.
I remember he had on a yellow shirt, he had played well and he was in a good mood. He went upstairs to clean up and returned to join us – this time in a white shirt with blue trim around the collar. He sat on the couch and I sat down in the chair across from him and we proceeded to have a friendly, lighthearted conversation. Nothing serious, small chit chat really. We talked about the Braves, the weather, his golf game, and Barbaro. We talked about my car which had recently been damaged by a bad storm and needed repairs. We laughed and joked. I told him about how work was going and he listened. And before I knew it an hour and a half had passed and it was time to head to the church.
I stood up and walked over to my father and he grabbed my hand. I said, “Bye Pop, I love you and I’ll see you tomorrow.” He said he loved me too, ordered me to keep those kids safe, and then kissed my hand and let go. That was the last time I ever talked with my dad. Had I known that, I wouldn’t have left so soon. But I think back to that day and am so very thankful I was asked to attend a church trip at the last minute. Had I not taken the trip, these last words would have never been spoken.
It is hard to believe it has been two years since that conversation. In the days that followed his death my life became a blur filled with grieving relatives, comforting friends, and making arrangements. My mind raced with emotions and memories. I remember feeling so scared that I would start to forget things about him. I remember being so angry with myself for having just deleted a voice message he had left on the answering machine at my house. I feared losing the sound of his voice, the way he walked, the silly jokes he would tell.
Now two years later, there is some truth to that. Some things about him have faded from my memory. But the important things remain. Our last conversation, for example, I believe will be etched in my mind forever. I have replayed it over and over in my head thousands of times. But I will remember too the ways in which he sacrificed to provide for me and our family. I will remember how he used to get out his old records and sing oldies to me at night. How the house used to smell like coffee every morning because he just had to have his four cups while reading the newspaper. How he would occassionally mistake the remote control for a calculator. How I would dance on his toes when I was little. How he helped me buy my first home. And how he used to tell me that no guy would ever be good enough for his little girl.
So today is a day of remembrance. Remembering my dad for all that he was and all that he meant to me and our family. And on this second anniversary we were fortunate to be able to celebrate a new life. The granddaughter he would have been so proud of is due in July and today we attended the shower that will help welcome her into this world.
My father’s legacy continues…
You’re not forgotten, father, dear
Nor ever shall you be,
As long as life and memory last
I shall remember thee.