This week, I had been planning to write a letter to myself, for my birthday.
But of course, life got in the way, and yesterday was the worst day of my life.
My dad died yesterday so suddenly that I'm still reeling, and in shock. So instead of sleeping or getting ready for tomorrow (which promises to be another awful day), I'm going to write him a letter.
Thank you for choosing to be my dad. With five kids already, you didn't blink an eye when you took on the tornado that was me and my sister. Thank you for loving my mother so fiercely and completely for as long as I can remember. Thank you for telling me to "look it up in the dictionary", because today my spelling, vocabulary and grammar are enviable. Thank you for telling me to "not piss my life away", because that is the reason my life is so full and awesome as it is. Thank you for loving me enough to see past the tattoos, the weird hair colors and clothes, the cranky and snarky that is me and love me every day anyway.
Thank you for handing me the unfinished crossword puzzle last Thursday with the little grin on your face, when you said "Can you help me finish it?". Thank you for asking my opinion on everything from baseball to cars to politics. Thank you for teaching me how to put air in the tires, check the oil, and jiggle the wires until it works again.
I loved that our phone calls always started with "Hi Dad it's me!" "Hello me! What's up?" and ended with a chuckle and an "Ok honey, you take care." I loved to make you laugh, and tried to do it every time I saw you. I loved your laugh, and the twinkle in your eyes, like you and I were the only ones in on the best joke ever.
You taught me just about everything I know, and I think my love of music and desire to play music comes entirely from you. I'll never forget the day you came into my room when I was blasting a new CD over and over. I expected you to tell me to turn it down. Instead, you asked who I was listening to, stayed for a minutes, said "I really like this" and walked out. I was so happy that you were so hip!
Though hugging you was so hard for me since you had become so little over the last few years, they were always good long hugs, with a bristly peck on my cheek to follow. I know you know that that was way better than the nights that I just yelled down the stairs to you "BYE DAD!" "Bye honey!"
Thank you for being so very honest with every question I've ever asked you. I think you were shocked more than once by the questions, but you always gave them thought, and answered honestly.
Thank you for having an opinion on the things I was smart enough to ask your opinions. Especially on the most important thing I ever went through on my own.
On the same note - thank you for letting me live my life as I saw fit. You really gave me wings to fly and I think you really dug watching me soar. You never meddled, I always felt like I was on this great ride, and you and Mom were watching happily from the ground, keeping an eye on me, but letting me have the loops and thrills along the way.
I love that you have always loved my friends, all of them. Though you admitted that they are a huge, diverse and sometimes motley crowd, you took pains to remember who was who, and I think you genuinely liked to be in their company, as much as they liked to be in yours. I was so proud to have "the cool Dad". I'll never forget the day you said to me "You're just like me, Vonnie. Can't leave the house without running into someone you know! Between the two of us, we probably know everyone!"
I think the universe got it right when it put our family together. There couldn't possibly be any other man who could have been my Dad. A perfect fit, even though it didn't happen the usual way. I am so grateful that there is not a moment of my life that I don't remember you in. I feel that the time I've had with you is just not enough, but 100 years wouldn't be enough.
May angels lead you in, Dad - a wonderful Dad, husband, grandpa, engineer, pool player, tenor, musician, magician, jokester, gin rummy winner, silly dude. May angels lead you in.