It’s been 22 years since you left this earth and I miss you every single day. I miss the talks we had when I left home to live my adult life. Not a day went by that we didn’t talk. I asked your advice, you gave it. Sometimes I didn’t ask your advice, and I got it. Mostly I called to say, “Hello, I miss you.”
Many of the things you told me over the years have stuck with me. As a child, and even now as an adult, I have a tendency to slouch when sitting and walking. I remember if I slouched while sitting, you would always threaten to tie my back to a board. That never happened. Still, these days when I find myself slouching, I straighten up right away and have found myself reminding Grace not to slouch.
It makes me laugh to think about the days you let me drive you around when I was still learning. You held on to the dashboard and even said a curse word or two when I didn’t look both ways or drove through a stop sign. By the time we got home I could see in your eyes that you were thinking, “Never again.”
When I brought home a report card with three A’s and two B’s, you asked me why my grades were not all A’s. That made me more determined to get straight A’s — not for you, but for me. And I did. I even got into the National Honor Society. Having you quiz me on the periodic table was tough. Having a chemist ask me what the elements were and trying to answer in five seconds blew my mind. You told me to go study some more and come back when I was ready.
You were tough and strict, but you had a heart of gold. You would give the shirt off your back to people. You worked in the Grove Park community as an activist. You taught me and my brothers to always give back and to treat people the way we would have them treat us.
When I cut my hand on a glass while washing dishes you rushed to the hospital, and when the doctor working on me moved too slowly, you told him to get out the way and let you do it. And he did.
You let me dance on your toes to learn the waltz for my cotillion and at my wedding. I was always your princess. I’ll never forget you walking me down the aisle and you said quietly, “I don’t know if I’m going to give you away.” You did.
When I got pregnant with Paige, you never really mentioned it. I guess thinking how I got that way made you uncomfortable. Later when my husband and I would stay at your house in a bedroom together, you were always a disrupter — knocking on our door and handing us the TV guide. What a piece of work you were now that I think about it. When we first moved back to town, you wanted me to give you a key to the house. That didn’t happen. But it didn’t stop you from “popping” by unexpectedly.
You were so proud of me being on TV and loved to show me off to your friends. Thanks for that.
All of the things you did for me helped me to raise two wonderful, smart women. You would be so proud of Paige. She’s a lawyer now, and Grace is traveling the world. You never got to meet Grace, but she came out looking just like you. Paige remembers those fast car rides in your Cadillac and your Jaguar and that you would hold her tight when saying goodbye.
I miss you so much. We all do. That’s why we keep you close in our hearts. It’s where you live every day.
Your Princess, Lisa
(For my readers: Write a letter like this while your father is still alive. And have the kids do it every year for Father’s Day. It will be a great gift.)