Had he lived today would have been my dad’s birthday, 90 years I think, but I am not sure. He left us much too soon in the summer of 1981 and I have missed him every day since. When I was still a child my dad’s birthday was always the first of celebrations that filled the last week of January every year. We had cake and ice cream for dad on the 27th, then more cake and ice cream for mom on the 29th and another celebration of their wedding anniversary on the 29th. Celebrations at our house always added friends to family and included games and stories, usually jokes told by dad that we laughed at, again.
Like many daughters I idolized my dad; believed he knew everything and could do anything. He rarely disappointed. I remember he graciously sat between me and another girl whose dad was not around for a father/daughter dinner, he picked up her check and we drove her home. He was my example for how to treat people. When some of his nephews got into trouble, which a couple of them did often, their mothers called on Uncle Mitch to straighten them out. He would sigh, run a hand over his head, then get in the car to go see what he could do to help.
When my children came along Dad became Grand Dad. He loved hanging out with my kids and he was even more a hero to them than to me. My children were absolutely certain the Grand Dad would give them anything and everything they wanted and that nothing could ever be so wrong that Grand Dad couldn’t fix it. They were still children when he died. It was devastating for them. Now, years later, memories of Grand Dad are the best highlights of their childhood.
My favorite memories are of times when dad was joking around, when he was playing with his children then grand children. He and I played together in a golf tournament once and it was a disaster. I played horribly and Dad kept picking up the slack so that we finished just a step up from last. But we laughed off my wiffs and slices and enjoyed our time together. I said at the time that I would never put us through that again, but how I wish he was here to laugh at my third tee shot into the water one more time.
When my grandmother died I was not yet five years old and full of questions about why and where did she go. Finally Dad took me outside where the moon was rising over the trees with a bright star just to the left. Dad said that my grandmother lived behind that star and she could watch us from there, but we could not see her. Thanks, Daddy. I don’t believe there is a life after this one, but my five year old self needed that.