Years ago, the father of two former players was killed when his auto shop was robbed.
I saw police lights at the shop as we headed home from pizza night at the in-laws’. We hoped and prayed for the best. The next morning, before kickoff on the opening day of soccer season, my sister’s teary call confirmed my friend Greg had been the one killed.
A good man lost is always a tragedy.
When last I saw him, Greg made repairs to my car I couldn’t afford and bought me lunch out of the back of a hatchback. He said in Spanish to the awesome cook and entrepreneur who’d pulled into his shop lot that he’d get the bill for my lunch – whatever I wanted.
Years later, the thing that strikes me is the permanence of his absence, to his kids.
And the overwhelming sense of sadness he must have felt in the moment he knew (did he?) that he’d not be around for his kids anymore. Today, Hilary has written an incredible post for us about losing her father at a young age.
It really strikes home for me. Forget sharks, lightning, and the raiders winning a super Bowl – what scares me most is checking out of this world before my children are all older than 100 years old.
Hilary writes an amazing blog called Feeling Beachie. The woman looks out onto the ocean from her bedroom window, people. That’s sick – not in a deranged way, but in the way that makes Tony Hawk so cool.
Enjoy her insight and incredible writing, and visit her blog. You’ll want to buy her book, Dangled Carat, too. And don’t forget that my birthday is next month.
It is human nature, we take things for granted. We don’t appreciate things fully, especially when we are children. We think that every day will bring happiness. The worst problem that we think we will experience is a bad report card. And above all, we think that our parents will be around with us forever, watching us grow and become the people we were meant to be. I know that is how I felt …
But I was wrong. Bad things happen. Your father can die.
I was 14 when my childhood ended. One moment I was driving in the car with my dad, and then next minute he was in the hallway of my house having a stroke. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew something was majorly wrong, so I called my mom at work and then 911.
My dad lived for three weeks and three days after his stroke. I remember the last time I saw him I went into the ICU with my aunt. He was laying naked, under an ice blanket with a temperature of 106. My aunt told me to make sure my dad knew I loved him. I held his hand and asked him, “You know I love you, right Daddy?” Somehow, despite the fever and everything else, he managed to nod his head yes.
Moments later he was gone. I kicked myself for not telling him more often that I loved him. I hated myself for not kissing him every day. Like so many kids I didn’t like to kiss, even though he loved it. I hated that I took the fact that he would be with me forever for granted.
My mom, who was always was and still is, my best friend, made sure for the years after to not only be my mom but my dad too. She did everything in her power keep my life as normal as possible. She shocked me time and time again, like when she told me to grab her car keys because she was going to teach me how to drive. This may not seem like much, but when I was little, my mom got nervous watching me on the merry-go-round. I never expected her to be able to do this, but she told me she wanted to. She said, “If Daddy was alive he would be teaching you, and I don’t want you to do without because he isn’t here.”
No matter how hard I try, I still don’t understand how so many years have passed. I miss my dad every day. But, what makes me especially sad is when I think about how much he missed out on. When he passed away, I was just a kid. Now, I am a 39-year-old woman. He didn’t get to experience so much of my life.
One very lucky, very happy girl
He never saw me graduate from high school or college. He didn’t see me jump for joy when I learned I passed the CPA exam, and my days of studying were over. He wasn’t there when I started my first job, and I proudly dressed in a suit for the very first time. He missed out on my subsequent career changes and promotions. When he passed away, I was in tenth grade, now I have been working at the same company, happily for 13 years.
More importantly, 10 years ago, my dad wasn’t able to hear about how I met the man of my dreams. Eight years ago my dad wasn’t able to know that this man made me his wife. Twenty-five years ago, when my dad passed away, I was an only child. Now thanks to my husband’s amazing family, I have brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.
So much has happened. So many years have flown by. All in all, I am one very lucky, very happy girl. While I feel bad about what my dad missed out on, in my heart I know he didn’t miss out on anything. I truly believe he looks down at me and my mom each and every day, and that he has shared every moment with us.
I always was, and always will be his little girl.
Hilary Grossman is the author of Dangled Carat – one girl’s attempt to convert the ultimate commitment-phobic man into a husband with a lot of help from his family and friends. In her memoir, Hilary explains how the death of her father impacted her life and also affected her subsequent relationships.