I’ve been surrounded by people that love me for the past day and a couple hours. I lost my father late on Wednesday night. My daddy. And this is the first time I have been alone (everyone else is sleeping) since the moment he passed. My stomach hurts. I never knew I had this many tears, and this is the most surreal moment in my entire life. Yesterday, sitting around at my parents house he wasn’t there. He wasn’t just late to show up to hang out with all of us. He isn’t coming back. I am devastated in knowing this. When people die suddenly you’re stuck with that long list of things like I wish I would have called more. I wish I had gotten to speak to him one last time. I wish this or that and the other. And yes, I wish I had been the last person to talk to him on the phone. His brother Jim gets that honor. The last thing I talked to him about what financial stuff and how I had gotten my taxes filed. He asked me if I was getting any money back. That was our last conversation.
On Valentine’s Day he texted me to tell me he loved me so much and wish me a happy day. The weekend before I had some questions about adult things (money shit) and I called him to ask him because I swear to God he knew everything. Especially when it came to finances. My eyes always glazed over with that shit but I knew I could always talk to him about something I didn’t understand and he could break it down for me. I can hear his voice in my head as I type this. He never said he was going to shower, he always said he was going to get cleaned up. He would always call me “honey bunch.” And he always worried that he hadn’t been there enough for me when I was a kid. He worked hard to support us and create a life that he thought we deserved, and he was a success. I never felt unloved a day in my life. I never didn’t know that my dad didn’t love me. He ALWAYS told me. And if I had been gone, living in New York or Wilmington, and I would come visit he would hug me so tight. Fuck, he gave the best hugs and I would kill for one. Just one more. One more night sitting on the couch watching tv and answering Jeopardy questions together. Or just talking about politics and other bullshit.
My dad and I had so many fun times, just the two of us. A trip to Maryland to go to the wooden boat show. We met up with some uncles and cousins upon arrival, but the trip itself was awesome. That was the first time I think we got to know each other. Later on many moons later we took another road trip to NYC to take me back after having my tonsils removed. He drove during the day, because he couldn’t see in the dark, and at that point it was my responsibility. We listened to the Allman Brothers and he was shocked that I liked them. We talked about everything in those trips. Dreams. What we thought life was supposed to be and what we aimed to do. He was so proud of me for going to NYU, continuing his fathers legacy. His father, I never knew, but he is my Godfather. He died shortly after I was born. And I never understood how hard that was for my dad to deal with, until now.
The one thing that my father always made sure of is that his girls never went without. He had a shit load of health problems. Some stem from his life time of diabetes and complications from that. Others happened along the way. His body wasn’t as strong as it used to be. It wasn’t firing the way it should. But despite breaking his ankle or his arm he still made sure that everything was handled. Yesterday, sitting on the desk in the kitchen I saw a letter penned in his hand and it was everything. Everything in that letter was what my mom should do and needed to do in order to make things go smoothly after he died. He wrote it 4 years ago. He knew this day was coming, and honestly we all did, because of his health issues, however, we always hoped he would beat the odds and stay a little longer.
I am lucky that I didn’t lose him 24 years ago when I was a child. He went into renal failure then, and ended up getting a kidney transplant from his brother Arthur. Arthur, always been my uncle and will forever remain as such, gave me my dad for 24 more years. Because of his selfless act he prolonged the life of a dying man. And that kidney was fucking amazing. It never faltered. Never once. And I am eternally thankful for my uncle. I always loved how when Art would call dad would answer the phone Hello, Governor. And Art would always reply, Hello Doctor. I always thought it was the funniest thing. When Arthur called me last night, hearing his voice was so refreshing and it brought me back to earth for a minute. I know he is devastated after losing his brother, but I also know that he knows the pain of losing his father. And because of that, my soul is humbled.
I worry the most about my mom. I know she is a strong woman, but I worry about her. He never let her go without. Be it having a cup of water waiting for her with dinner when she got home from a long day or making sure the house was cleaned, even though he could never achieve her standard of clean–hell, none of us can. So, if you could find it in your heart to keep her in the light over the next few months as she finds her footing in this new era in life, I would appreciate it.
I know I am lucky. I am lucky because my dad told me every fucking day that he loved me and that he was proud of me. Not everyone can say that and my heart breaks for them. He was more than a father, he was a provider, my #1 cheerleader, my voice of reason, my financial adviser (even though I epically suck at this shit), my rock, my dad, my daddy. There was one day when I got scared when I was probably 5 years old. We went to the hardware store in N. Wilkesboro and something, God only knows what, scared me and I started crying. He lifted me up onto his shoulder and rocked me. He told that everything would be okay and that I should just let it all out. He never got upset. He always had a calming voice. He also held me on that same shoulder at my great grandmother’s funeral. I was so high up (also 5 years old) and I looked back on the people at that funeral celebrating her, and I felt so safe, so content because he wasn’t going to let me hurt.
Daddy, I look forward to the day when our energies are together again, somewhere out there in the ether. I will continue pushing myself toward bigger and better things and continue to make your proud. I will look after mom, Ginny, and Heather. I will make sure they know they are loved, just like you would have wanted. You are the best thing that ever happened to me in this life and I will love you until my last breath fades. I know you’re with me, hovering just beyond this realm where I can’t see you. But I feel you. I feel that big bear hug wrapping me up as tears stream down my face. I will forever be your honey bunch, your baby girl, and you will forever be my daddy.