I was watching "My Big Fat Greek Wedding" on television last night, and I cried like a baby. Not because it's such a good movie (it is) or it's so moving (it is), but because that was a movie I watched with my dad. It somehow seems wrong that, even though he's been gone for nearly five years, that movie, and the other things we enjoyed together, continue to exist without him.
Princess and Grandpa, Halloween 2006
My dad and I didn't always get along. My teenage years were TERRIBLE. I was terrible. My father (much like the dad in "My Big Fat Greek Wedding") reacted to fear and anxiety with anger and bluster, which just made me more hostile and too-cool-for-school. I think we were all relieved when I moved out.
Once I moved out, my relationship with my dad got a lot easier. We didn't see eye to eye on politics, so we didn't talk about that. We loved music. We loved movies. He loved sports, so I pretended to. Movies about sports? Forget about it. I sat through "The Natural" with my dad. That's love.
I remember one night when Sven was gone and I was sad. My mom and dad showed up at my house with a fried chicken dinner and just sat and ate with me. It's one of the nicest things anyone has ever done for me. Even though I was 31 (almost 32) when I lost my dad, I wasn't ready. There were years of chicken dinners, and babies, and family trips, and griping about the poor quality of reality television still left with him. Sven lost his dad at 17. I can't imagine how hard that was. Losing my dad in my 30's was devastating. It still is.
My dad was 56 when he died. That's part of the reason I've made some of the choices I have this year. Taking charge of my health and my life has become really important to me, because I don't want to go that soon. My parents had their kids young; they were 24 when I was born. I was nearly 31 when Princess was born and nearly 33 when Dexy came along. If I were to die at 56, Princess and Dexy would be in their early 20's. Adults, yes. But not ready to lose their mom.
Every time I hear a new band on the radio I miss my dad. When I see a movie I know he would have loved, I miss my dad. Heck, when I see Charlie Sheen on the news, I miss my dad. (He loved "Major League." I couldn't sit through that one.) So on his birthday I don't think it's inappropriate to be serious for a day and think about him.