With the recent Father’s Day, the loss of my dad comes into focus again. My dad died in November of 2000. He never got to see Rick Pitino join the Louisville Cardinals (he would have loved it and gloated to all of his UK-loving friends). He, thankfully, never had to understand the world post 9/11. He missed the horror that day brought over the nation. He would have surely called in a panic and rushed to be with us.
If I have one regret, though, it’s that he never got to meet my son. He would have been a magnificent grandfather.
My family loves to tell stories of how my father let me carry screwdrivers or called me “Ralph,” and he let me get away with a lot, despite the over-protective person he became as I changed into a woman. If he were here for his grandson, the stories would be similar. I know he would have my son working on lawn mowers and “piddling” around whatever project he was pretending to finish.
Celebrating Father’s Day with my husband and seeing him with our son reminded me of the times my own dad would watch my sister and me. He loved us very much. So much so that when Great White and Tesla came to town, he agreed we could go — if he went along. Most 16-year-olds would be devastated to attend a concert with their father. I didn’t mind. I got to go to the show, and that was most important to me.
The night of the concert, my friend Jamie came over to visit. We talked about going, and she talked about making her outfit. I was impressed she could sew, but she was talented, so I expected something pretty rocked out.
My best big-haired girlfriend Mary was also going. Mary was the girl who managed to meet every band she ever saw, and usually it was out of pure happenstance. She was not a “backstage” girl.
At the show, one of the final ones I saw at the Louisville Gardens, my father, sister and I found seats at the edge of the floor crowd.
“Dad, I think I see Mary. Can I go say hi?”
“Nope. She’ll find you.”
While I had no reservations going to the show with my dad, I had no idea the leash would be so short that night.
Mary did find me, and periodically through the night she ran back to show me a guitar pick or a drumstick or just to say she was happy that we could come, even if we were stuck sitting next to our dad.
Jamie also found us. Her homemade outfit was barely covering her essentials, but she made it and I gave her props for that. My father grumbled, “That girl is going to end up dead somewhere.”
Thankfully he was wrong, and she has grown to be a fine adult woman who wears plenty of clothing and still uses her talents to create goods for others.
I don’t think my father was unique in his worry about his daughters. He simply wanted to protect us.
He protected us from a bat in the house when we were small. Truthfully, he would have hid with us, but the kids he hired from the street to kill the bat had to be instructed on how to properly extinguish the tiny creature.
He protected us from the bad storms that made us nervous, kept us safe from getting stuck in “our situation” and protected us from most boys with fervor.
What he couldn’t protect us from was the inevitable fact that when he was gone, we would miss him. My sister and I are so much like him. Our sense of humor and our ability to just enjoy the human condition and all its faults are definitely symptoms of being his children.
When he passed away, we knew a couple of things. We knew he loved us more than he could ever tell us, though he always told us. We also knew we had to send him off with one last bit of humor.
Dad, I’m glad we remembered your suit that you only wore to funerals. We thought you might like to have it one last time.