|One of my favorite pics of Dad ~ At the Highland Games years ago :)|
We were sitting here talking about how tomorrow would have been Dad's birthday and marveling at how surreal it is that it's already been 3 months, and how it feels like just yesterday and ages ago all at the same time that I was talking to Dad on the phone and plotting to come out for a visit in a few weeks’ time. How we got from there to here is mind-blowing. None of anything went as planned, and there are still many days that it feels like I’m stuck in a bad dream and I can’t seem to wake up.
About that time a friend of mine messaged all excited about a new purse she just bought on sale for $700 -- it is important to note it was regularly over $900!! And I just about laid an egg.. I've had CARS that I've paid less than that for, and drove them for multiple years!! The image of my friend sitting on her purse expecting to get somewhere tickles my funny bone.. but I digress..
It's much more than that though - When I think of the good I could do with that kind of money ~ That's several month's groceries, it's car payments for a couple of months.. it's so many things.. but just a purse.. that doesn't even make my list.. Now I should say here that I mean in no way to disrespect my happy shopping friend ~ honestly, she’s one of a number of ladies that have discovered the joys of pricey purses lately, and I’ve had the same conversation to my shoe-collecting friends as well. We all have our habits and vices right? Mine lives in my craft room.. <Grin>
Given the timing of the conversation, I found myself laughing. If I'd ever told my Dad I'd spent that kind of money on a purse I think he'd have had me committed. He probably would have driven me there himself.. likely in a flurry of conversations surrounding the phrases “F’n dummy” and “Easy come easy go eh?”, two of his very favorite sayings.
Even so, I just cannot wrap my brain around spending that much on something to throw my crap in.. LOL Guess I'm not much of a girly girl.. it's all Dad's fault I suppose.. he always called my sister and I his sons.. It became somewhat of a family joke. He always wanted a son. He and Mom had a son before me, but he died as an infant and after that Mom gave him two girls. He proudly told everyone that we were his sons, and we’d laugh and call him our Mom – Daddy-Mom, actually. Since for most of our lives he filled both roles having taken over when our Mom ran away from home.
I was remembering how Dad had insisted that if I was going to drive a car that I had to know how to take care of it. He bought me my first car at 16. I had to learn to check the oil, and tire pressure and such before I was ever allowed to drive it. Don’t even get me started on my learning to drive - Dad had some pretty interesting methods of making sure his student kept their mind on the road while driving. He always stuck a roll of toilet paper in the glove box “Just in case”; I think he just wanted to throw us off of our confidence and make sure we paid attention. Crazy bugger. I remember stopping at a red light and having him quietly pull on the hand brake or slipping the car into neutral and laughing himself silly while you panicked as the light went green. I will never forget the day he reached over and cuffed me in the back of the head and when I asked what that was for, he said that one day I’d have my boyfriend in the car and he’d be talking to me, and feeling up my leg and I’d have to keep my mind on the road. I quipped back Yeah right Dad, like you’re ever gonna let me have a boyfriend! We both laughed all the way home..
When other girls my age were out shopping with their moms or hanging out at the mall, I was learning how to change the oil in the car, piling wood for the wood stove, helping Dad with the tow truck just to name a few. At 10..11..12.. , I was making business calls, and answering business calls and calls for the Union (Dad was a shop steward for a time) . I learned to cook, and clean house, and helped out with my little sister. We moved around quite a bit, and Dad always drove us to school and picked us up. At times I felt robbed of what others were doing that I wasn’t allowed to. It took me a long time to realize the gifts that he’d given me early in life that many don’t learn til much later – some never learn them.
He was fond of saying that I was going to grow up strong like him. Ford Tough, he’d say.. whenever something bad would happen he’d say “Don’t worry kid, you’re a Wilson! You’re tough, like me! Ford Tough” and we’d laugh..
A few months before he fell ill we were talking on the phone and he said something I will never forget. He told me he had no brains anymore that he’d given them all to me. I thought that he was just being his jokester self, but he insisted he was serious that he’d taught me everything he knew so that he didn’t have to think anymore. At the time I didn’t know it, but we’ve come to realize that Dad had been ill for a lot longer than he let on. I think he wanted to make sure that he let me know that he loved me. He didn’t often say it – he was the king of “me too”, when he actually said it, it was a very big deal. Over the last year he’d become fond of saying “I miss you more than the world”, “I love you more than the world”. I just hope he knew that to me, he was the world. He was the one person in my life that was always there no matter what. It didn’t matter what had happened, or what was needed; if he couldn’t fix it he did his very best to find us someone who could.
He was never hung up on looks or age and didn’t care that having a teenage daughter would tell the world that was old. He’d come to my band concerts in his jeans and vest, and afterwards he’d crack jokes and we’d all laugh about all the people who got all dressed up to put on airs at a kid’s concert. I can think of very few times when I called on Dad for help and didn’t get it. In my teens and twenties friends were very jealous of my ability to make a phone call and say “Daddy it’s broken, come get it” and before too long a tow truck would be coming down the road to the rescue. Everybody should have that kind of security in their lives.
When he was in the hospital this past year, he told me that I was the best thing he ever did and that he was proud of me. Now to most that wouldn’t seem like a very big deal but my Dad was never a very touchy feely sappy kinda guy.. His way was more to tell me how screwed up I was or what I’d done wrong – perhaps some effort to make me work harder. I could clean the whole house to surprise him, but then he’d come back and notice a sock under the couch, or some other trivial item – oh there were days I wanted a bugs bunny mallet!! - but then I’d heard from other people how he’d praised me or how proud he was of me. So this direct statement was very unexpected, and a very precious gift. I had no idea at the time that it would be one of the last times I’d hear his voice as he was intubated not long after, and though we were able to “talk” afterwards, his words were no longer audible. The nurses marvelled at the fact that we were carrying on complete conversations while many of them couldn’t be bothered to put in the effort to try to make out what he was trying to tell them.
I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that he’s been gone 3 months already. I keep expecting the phone to ring and hear that familiar voice telling me he’s got a job for me, wisecracking and joking around. Someone will say something, or something will happen and I’ll think Oh wow.. I’ve gotta tell Dad – and then it hits me and I find myself feeling like an idiot – how could I “forget” something so important. The other day I reconnected with a girl from our old neighborhood we haven’t talked since we were kids, crazy that we live about an hour apart and both some 4000 miles from “home”. My first thought was to call Dad and tell him who I’d “found”. It still doesn’t feel real and I’m not entirely certain that it ever will.
When I think of all the times we put off the “What if” conversations as if we had all the time in the world. Truly, we always take for granted what we have until we don’t have it anymore. I never dreamed I’d be saying good-bye to Dad so early in life, I was pretty sure we had many many years to drive each other crazy left to explore.. I guess it’s true what they say. You just never know..
Live every day as though it may be your last. One day, it will be.
Love you Daddy. Miss you