As I place my glass of water on the coaster next to the computer, I can't help but smile. It's a hand painted, ceramic, 4x4 square. It has several stars and a crescent moon covering the top and along the sides it reads, As Many Stars In the Sky Thats How Much I Love You. It is dear and precious to me. It was also painted by me, for my Dad. I don't remember when I made it, but for years it sat at his side table holding whatever beverage he was enjoying. He commented to me several times about how he still loved it, all those years later. It now holds my beverages and it always makes me smile. I love it because it was his.
We are in a window of time, mid-June to mid-July when things feel so right on the surface, still so fresh. My Dad went on hospice four years ago and died just about a month later. Sooner than expected, yet in his own time. These are the days that I can recount and remember so clearly - the last time I saw Dad at home, the last photo I have of Dad and AB, our last face to face conversation, the last hug we shared, our last phone conversation. There was a fragility to time and in this window, four years later, it remains.
It has been many years since we'd actually spent a Father's Day together, but it is tough. I can't browse the card aisle, choosing a card for my father-in-law, or helping AB pick the perfect one for my husband without crying. So many cards fit, so many cards would make him laugh, so many cards still speak the words of my heart.
He was a great dad. He was funny, and attentive and the biggest cheerleader you could ever have. He was tough and firm and a no nonsense kind of guy. The saying, there are no strangers only friends you haven't yet met, fit him perfectly. He'd strike up a conversation with anyone that would give him an ear. He was a storyteller, and it wouldn't be uncommon to hear the same story multiple times. My sister and I perfected the eye-roll-silent-laughter-cover-your-face- while-tears-stream-down-your-face -face whenever he'd launch into particular stories.
I feel so lucky that I don't have regrets with my Dad. He knew he was loved and I know to my very core that he loved me tremendously. We learned to speak our words freely, both the easy and the hard, the comfortable and the uncomfortable. We said I love you, over and over and over again. I don't doubt that as he slipped into God's faithful arms that he felt the love of his family embracing him too.
Last night I went upstairs to say goodnight to my son as my husband was in the midst of a bedtime story. AB looked at me, sleepy but wide-eyed, Dad is telling me an awesome story, it's so cool! I walked out of his bedroom and felt my heart stretch. Time keeps going, stories continue to be told, a child relaxes into the loving warmth of his father, memories are made, love grows.
This Father's Day morning I sip coffee from my Dad mug, another memento that passed from daughter to father, now back into daughters hands. The same hands and heart that grasp onto the love, to the stories, to the comfort that once was.
Happy Father's Day. You done good.