Monday, June 16, 2008

Why I Love My Dad -- Jennie

Ten years ago, my dad lost his wife. Her suffering was lengthy and slow, and along with a post-chemo, blue handkerchief on the bedpost, her death left behind a heartbroken man and eight kids.

I am the oldest of those kids. The youngest is now sixteen, and there are the grandchildren my mom hoped for but never saw. My dad loves them – really loves them – and he loves the eight of us. We pitch in where we can, giving him all kinds of unsolicited advice. But he knows what he’s doing. He’ll make it.

After all, my dad is no stranger to tragedy. I won’t spill his whole life, but I will say that even surviving polio is not one of his major triumphs.

Nothing has stopped his perseverance.

In the decade since my mom’s passing, Poppa has retired from a career in corrections, run a junior football league, visited Finland and Italy with his brother, fixed a billion broken computers, and sent off four collegiates, not to mention making bagged lunches and folding laundry and checking homework – by himself, every single day.

He’s been busy.

True, Poppa is still obsessed with the capacity of his sewer system, and if you visit, make sure you call first, show up after noon, and clean your coffee cake crumbs off his counter. But unless you borrow a tool either without asking, or for an enormous amount of time, you’ll win an extraordinary man’s fairness and pragmatism and deep belly-laugh.

I love my dad because of all these things, but mostly because of his love for my mom. He has kept her with us, through his sweet memories and his incurable sorrow, and also through his laminating machine.

Pictures of our favorite angel are preserved between thin sheets of plastic. Her light eyes and bright smile seem to say, “I’m still here for you. Here, have a cookie. And give a few to the UPS guy.”

It’s not hard to see why Poppa misses her so badly. I’d do anything to bring her back to him.


Anonymous said...

So beautiful, Jennie! What a lovely tribute to both your parents. The laminating machine is a heartbreaking touch...

KMB said...

Your portrait of your father is heartrending Jennie. He is lucky to have you.

corders said...

very beautiful, great father and wonderful family. i want to be half the dad!
marty & karlee

Ken said...

Jennie, you DO bring your mom back to me...whenever I see the kids climb in bed with you so you can read them a story...whenever you (over)bake something in the oven...whenever you are so tired from a long day you're ready to drop but you give someone else some attention...whenever I see you look for the best in others...and in countless other everyday moments that you don't even notice. I notice them because that's when I see your mom is still in our lives. There is no greater gift you could give me than to keep your mom in my life. I love you, Jennie.