Today you would have been 87 years old. Wish you were still with us. While you’ve been gone nearly 15 years I can still hear your voice whenever a clear-headed, common-sense solution to whatever is troubling me pops into my head. You are with me whenever I bake your special bread; whenever I pick strawberries or apples with my family; whenever I get the urge to make meatballs. Notice that thoughts of you often accompany food!
You are with me when our son John plays the trombone, just like you did in high school. You would be proud of what he’s accomplished. In fifth grade he chose this instrument because – wisenheimer that he was – he had visions of Three Stooges-like episodes of hitting his fellow musicians in the head with his slider. And his first year or two was not easy as he discovered the trombone is a very physical instrument that demands much of you. He stuck with it because, like you, he doesn’t give up and finishes what he starts. A few days ago one of his music teachers told me that John has become an accomplished, more relaxed player. I hope that someday he will play the trombone with the same easy grace I saw in my favorite photo of you: as a 20-year-old, shirtless, in khakis, with tumbled brown curls and your trombone in hand.
Wish your other grandchildren could have shared more of their triumphs with you. They still remember the great times picking peaches with you, the “pop-pop bread” that showed up on our kitchen counter when you’d come to visit; watching the July 4 parade in front of your house. You are no doubt proud of how they turned out: Ryan (you once said, “He’s so smart he scares me”) has a great job in Europe with Kimberly-Clark and Rachel is now in dental hygiene school. Your grandchildren include engineers, a future doctor, a special education teacher and lots of very smart kids making their way through school. I’m sure you are on top of their accomplishments but I wish they had more years to learn from you.
I wish you could have gotten to know my husband better and that he could have spent more time with you. Bob is a lot like you…easy-going, always ready to see the good in people, friendly and hospitable, fiercely protective of those he loves. I think of you whenever he nags me about locking the door, keeping the dog on a leash or checking in whenever I’ve reached a destination. I think of you whenever he insists on watching our 14-year-old at the bus stop. We were married just a month after you died and you knew Bob well enough to know I would be in good hands.
As I get older I see more of you in myself, but not nearly enough. I’m a homebody who loves curling up on the couch with the family; a perfectionist in the kitchen; and good at following instruction manuals and doing household repairs if I’m not too tired. I remember all the hours we spent putting up drywall and molding around my old house, and the prosciutto sandwiches we’d enjoy afterwards. I feel closer to you whenever I have a screwdriver or hammer in my hand.
Yet unlike you, I struggle with being petty at times. I remember how outraged we all felt when people who barely knew you crashed your funeral luncheon and we didn’t have enough chairs and tables for relatives and friends. The only thing that kept us from tossing them out was the thought that you would want us to be gracious. So I keep praying that I can learn to live like you did, always ready to forgive and to see the best in people.
That’s it! I will think about you tonight, Dad, when I cook dinner for my family. Send me a message sometime, the usual way. Help me to be more like you. Love you!