I am blessed. My dad, who will be 88 this summer is still alive and kicking. Yes, he is a pain in the neck with his restricted diet (and no, there is no medical need for this) and his obsessive behavior, but I wouldn't trade one minute of having him for anything.
When my sister and I were growing up, my dad took an extra job so my mom could be home and watch us. He wanted her to know our friends and know where we were at all times. He left the house weekdays by 5:00 AM and on Mondays and Thursdays didn't return home until after 10:00 PM. Those days we never got to even kiss him good night. He worked Saturdays too, all day in the children's shoe department at Macy's, Herald Square. My mom used to dress us up and take us to see him. We were so proud watching him fitting shoes on children's feet and expertly handling the parents. And he was so proud of us, bringing us over to all his colleagues to either introduce or say hello. Lunch was a special treat in the employees cafeteria. True, it was mostly home made sandwiches but just being there with him was so special.
I remember the times we waited in the building lobby for my dad. He would run to the mailbox and excited pull out letters he said I got from the animals in the Bronx Zoo, the place he took me every Sunday. I remember how real these letters were. In fact, when I think back, I sometimes forget they weren't real. I'll never forget how his face lit up when my mom brought us to the train station to meet him. Nothing will match the joy of this man catching his two little girls as they raced under the turn style into his arms.
When hula hoops were the rage and all the stores were sold out, my dad found two and thought nothing of bringing them home on a crowded subway. He got me books I needed for school and Cabbage Patch dolls for my children. I believed there was nothing he could not get. My dad was my super hero.
When my son was about 8, he developed a severe case of asthma and had to be hospitalized. My husband was away on a business trip and I panicked and called my dad. He had just gotten to Macy's. When he heard my need, he hung up his work jacket, clocked out and went home to get my mom and mother-in-law to stay with me. I was an adult but I was still his little girl. He was still taking care of me.
My dad gave up his full time job the year my son was born. Every week he came over to babysit for the little boy, his only grandson, born on his birthday. My dad had never changed a diaper in his life before this and my neighbors still laugh telling me how he stood in the middle of the street, calling after my car, as my little guy gave him a nice gift as soon as I left. Needless to say, my dad learned very quickly how to make a baby comfortable.
Today is Father's Day. My leg is mostly healed and I am going to spend the morning with him. We'll go to the same diner or deli or Panera, the only places he likes, but that is okay. I have my dad another year. Happy Father's Day. I love you.