Tag Archives: Dad

Father’s Day

My Dad died about nine years ago.  There’s not a day that goes by that I can’t honestly say I don’t think of him.  I never knew I would miss him this much.  A few years ago I wrote this post on Facebook and re-posted it again this year.  I think this sums up anything new I could write so I’m going to post it here also.  To those whose Fathers are still alive, call them and wish them a happy Father’s Day.  I know I wish I could.

I first posted this a few years ago and it came up on my memories recently, but with Father’s Day tomorrow I wanted to re post it one more time. I don’t know if I can find anything different to write about my Dad that I don’t include here.

MY DAD

It’s not like I think of him more on this day than any other. I don’t think a day goes by that I don’t have at least one thought of my Dad, who passed away from cancer six years ago. Something will happen during each day will make me think of him. I can be shopping at the book store and I’ll see a book and my mind thinks how that would be a perfect Father’s Day or Christmas present for him, but of course I don’t have to buy it. Or when I bought my Ipad when it first came out I imagined him saying something about my need to buy the newest gadgets as soon as it came out.

You hear people say that their Mom or Dad is their best friend. My Dad was never my best friend. He was my Dad. I didn’t want him to be my best friend. I needed him to be my Dad. Even after I had supposedly grown up I wanted him as a Dad, not a best friend. I wanted to be able to call him up with a problem and get his advice. I knew if things got bad I always had a place to go back to. I have plenty of friends, but I only had one Dad.

My Dad was, shall we say, vertically challenged. He was probably 5’ 4”, shorter than my Mom. Of course that was always open to comment. He liked to say that dynamite came in small packages, I would tell him so does silly putty. But when I think of him I always imagine myself looking up at him, no matter how tall I grew over him.

He continued to surprise me throughout his life. A lifelong Republican, and worse a Nixionian, while I grew up he came to admire Bill Clinton. A veteran of over twenty years, he would get so mad about the war in Iraq and the men and women sent over there he would literally work himself into tears.

I got my love of reading from my Dad. He always had a book and was reading some part of the day. After my parents retired, he would go shopping with my Mom and while she was in the stores shopping he would find a bench to sit and read. I remember more than a few times walking through the mall to find him sitting on a bench with a book while my Mom was inside the store shopping. I can say that I am a feminist because of my Dad. Chores or duties in our home weren’t assigned because one was the Mom or one the Dad. My Dad handled the cooking the last twenty years of his life so much that after he died my Mom said she had to learn how to cook all over again.

One of the things my Dad regretted the most in his life I think was that he didn’t graduate high school. He left an abusive family situation and joined the Navy before he received his diploma. He may not have finished school, but my Dad was one of the smartest people I have ever known. He taught himself so much over the years, that there were few subjects he didn’t have some knowledge of. As much as I’ve tried to emulate him, there are some subjects that just baffle me and when something in car goes wrong I miss the chance to call him and explain the problem and have him tell me what the solution is.

And what I remember most about my Dad was how much he loved my Mom. Oh, I’m not saying there weren’t bad moments. They could fight. Oh boy, could they fight. But in the end it didn’t matter. They loved each other so much. When my Dad was in the hospital dying I overheard my Mom talking to the priest and she said “He’s my right arm, no, he’s both my arms, he’s my whole body.”

My Dad was one of those people that never realized what an impact he had on others. If he had seen the people that stopped by his hospital room when he was dying, from family that came everyday and worked shifts so he wouldn’t be alone at night, to nurses who had dealt with him only weeks or months before wanting to stop by and say their goodbyes he would have been astonished.

I’ll never forget one incident while we sat in the hospital room. There must have been about twenty people in the room, from my Mom, my brother and sister, my niece and nephew, uncles and aunts, cousins. It was a full room. Everyone was sitting around talking in different groups while he laid on his hospital bed. My niece got up and walked over the his bed and sat down next to him. Conversations were lowering, people were turning, as she took his hand in hers and sat there, talking to him and holding his hand. The room had went completely quiet as everyone watched.

My Dad adored my niece and nephew. I’m not saying he didn’t love his own children, but he held a special place for the two of them in his heart and thought the sun rose and set on them.

I could spend pages and pages talking about my Dad and what he meant and still means to me. Even though I don’t send him a card anymore I wanted to write something about him for Father’s Day. They say that loss gets better over time and while it might be true that the hurt isn’t quite as fierce there isn’t a day that goes by I wish he wasn’t still here.

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Memorial Day

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I was going to write a post about this weekend but the following post popped up in my Facebook feed from something I wrote a couple years back and really couldn’t think of anything better to say.

For most today is a three day weekend. A time to cook out with friends and family. Or go shopping. The stores don’t even close early for the day anymore. If we’re not careful we can lose the meaning of the day. But if we hold on to it, if we remember what this day is for, we can keep the truth of the day alive.
Memorial Day is a day for us to remember what the price of freedom is. It should be a day when we forget we’re a Democrat or a Republican and remember that we’re Americans. It’s a day when we remember the blood that was shed for us. It should be a day when we remember the sweat and tears that was given to protect us. It’s a day when we should remember the fallen but also when we should remember all the men and women that spent a lifetime wearing the uniform and answering that call to a higher good.
It’s a day when I remember two in particular. The first is my Dad. My Dad passed away a few years back. He was safely retired from the Navy for over a decade when the cancer from his pack a day habit finally caught up with him, even though he had finally beaten his addiction to cigarettes. He retired from the U.S. Navy proudly as a Master Chief.
The military is not an easy life. The pay isn’t great and the hours are worse than just about any other job. I remember growing up my Dad having to work extra jobs to help pay the bills. But he loved the job and went where assigned. When he retired he was lost at first, going into civilian life was like entering into another world for him. But he managed and the last years of his life he was able to spend it happy with my Mom in retirement. I don’t think he was ever happier.
The second person I remember wasn’t so lucky. I find as I get older I don’t make friends as easily as I did when younger so the ones I made those many years ago mean so much more to me. Two of them were Jason and Claire. Over twenty years ago their first son was born, Jason Hill Estopinal. I was a young man, not really much more than a boy, but they made sure that I was going to be comfortable around their new baby. I remember not long after Claire was home from the hospital and visiting when she basically pushed JJ in my arms to hold. I wasn’t used to holding a baby, but I soon learned how to. Over the next few years when I would visit Jason and Claire I would find myself spending time with JJ. (I know Jason said recently that only his Mom got away with calling him JJ, but as a boy he was always JJ and that’s how I’ll always remember him.) I remember one back yard party that they had and while all the adults were standing around talking I was running around the yard with a three or four year old JJ.
I never had the pleasure of knowing the adult JJ. Jason and Claire moved to Atlanta around JJ’s fifth birthday. At first I would visit yearly, but over time the visits became fewer and I never realized I hadn’t seen them in years. I heard JJ joined the Marines. Than on my lunch hour I opened an email on my phone and see an article saying that a young man from Georgia was been killed overseas. As I read the article I realized how much I still loved that family and found myself in tears.
JJ never got the chance to grow up and retire from the military like my Dad. He never got the chance to marry and have children and see them grow up. He never got the chance to get up early in the morning and go sit on the porch with a cup of tea and realize how wonderful his life had been.
On this day I pay tribute to two heroes.

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