Thursday, February 11, 2010

A Post About My Dad

This post is about my dad. He died eleven years ago this very evening at Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit from complications following cancer surgery. He was 52 years old. The older I get, the younger I realize that is. His death was a huge blow to me. Did I know it was coming. Yes. I knew. Even though nobody else semi-close to us really knew, I knew because I took him to the doctor all the time. I took him to the emergency room at least once every couple of weeks toward the end. I knew. Still, it was hard. I was 25 years old and I lost the best friend I ever had.

I still want to see him. Put my head on his shoulder. Hug him. Talk to him. Oh, how I would love to talk to him. He had a way of making me feel like we were equals and not really like father and daughter. We were friends. We talked about everything. Well, almost everything. Ok, so he would get uncomfortable when we watched TV and a tampon commercial would come on. Actually, most times he would leave the room. Aside from that kind of stuff we talked about everything.

I would be remiss if I talked about my dad as though the sum of who he was involved the six years that he fought a rare form of pancreatic cancer. There were things about him that were funny and charming and, though he could be a quiet guy, he was a kick to be around most times. I have some stories I would like to share. Some of you may have heard some of these, others maybe not. At any rate, they bear repeating. Without further ado, some random memories about my dad.

My dad was obsessed with getting a savage tan. In the summers, he spent all of his time (and I mean ALL) wearing a 1970's short-shorts bathing suit. No shirt. Flip flops. He claimed that it was nice to just wear a bathing suit because the underwear was built in. Eeeew...thanks Dad, couldn't done without that piece of information.

To match perfectly with his tan and bathing suit ensemble, dad would wear a gold rope chain necklace on which he had an Italian horn charm. Very cute, Dad. Lovely. I truly believe that it was much to his chagrin that he only had a very small patch of chest hair. I believe he would have gladly rocked an oh-so-70's hair sweater.

Ok, so in keeping with the above theme, once my dad decided it would be a great idea to experiment with ways to accelerate his tan. He had tried baby oil and it worked great so he decided to take it up a notch. Peanut oil. What a brilliant idea! Dad rubbed peanut oil all over his body and decided to do outside and cut the grass. Half way through the job, I heard dad exclaim, "oh shit, I'm burning..." He came flying through the door like a flash and headed straight for a cold shower. You see, if you know anything about peanut oil you know that it just keeps cooking. That's why people use peanut oil to cook Thanksgiving turkeys. The oil just keeps penetrating. So maybe not such a great idea after all, Dad.

Until the end, my dad would puff up his cheek so I could kiss it and make all the air blow out his mouth. So, I got to do that with my dad until I was 25.

Dad called my childhood dog, Muffin, my sister. When he felt like I hadn't seen him in a while, he would call me and say that my sister was missing me.

The first time I ever danced with a man, it was with my dad and I stood on top of his feet. I sure wish I could do that now. Of course, if I did it now I would crush his feet.

So, as I said, my dad was my total BFF. After all this time he enters my mind every single day. Sadly, he never got to meet my husband in person. I met my now hubby about 3 months before Dad died. He was invited to have dinner with us but he was studying for his law school exams. I know it is one of his biggest regrets.

A couple of weeks after my dad died my brother, my hubby and I were at my dad's house cleaning some things out. We came across my Dad's old brown bomber jacket. When hubby saw it, he turned white as a sheet and asked me if that was my Dad's jacket. I said, "well, of course it's his jacket." He then told me that he'd had a dream a few nights after my Dad's death. In it we were at an intersection. I was on one side, my dad on the other, hubby on another. He said that my Dad was wearing that very jacket in the dream. (and I assure you that my hubs is not one to exaggerate.) A jacket that my hubby had never, ever seen before because he'd never actually met my Dad. My Dad crossed the street and told him that he was handing me over to him now and that he wanted him to take care of me. And he has been taking care of my ever since. That would not be the only time Dad would visit in dreams, but it was the only time he visited my hubby in dreams. It's been a while but I sure would love for him to come and see me in one of mine again. Even if he is wearing that damn bathing suit.


  1. Thanks for sharing these memories. Now, I know why you are so wonderful, creative, and funny.

  2. Hold on, I am wiping my eyes....I knew the whole Tan thing, because if I recall, I envied it. But, I never heard about the Jacket...and Wow, I truley believe that when people pass over to the other side, they stick with us by popping into dreams, I have seen and talked to many while sleeping. Reading this, and watching how Kenny is struggling to be Haley's BF really makes me sad. I want him to have that relationship with Haley as you two hurts my heart. You Steph came from a good seed and you have taken some of the best qualities from that wonderful Man. That my dear is the best gift ever. Let me know when Andrew meets him, I believe it will be soon if not already. We Love you Much : )

  3. I remember Uncle Shels' tan, and his short shorts. I remember the short shorts, and I remember the gold chain. Now, if I remember them from all the photos I have seen of him in them, or from true memories. One thing about your Dad I will never forget though, is his sense of humor. Unlce Shel was always good for a laugh. I love his cards that he sent, which I know he took great pride and care in.

    I remember how his smile and laugh would light up the room. I remember him very fondly. I was young, but I still consider him an influence in my life. He was a tough, loving, caring man, and I miss him too Steph.


  4. That was truly something special S. Your dad sounded like a snowball of fun. You were lucky to have had such an awesome father.

    I had goosebumps whilst reading about your hubs dream. I bet your dad is smiling down on you now.xoxoxoxo

  5. Oh, thank you for making me smile and giggle this morning thinking about your dad. He was such a youthful person, responsible, yes, but his youthful charm was infectious. Your dad had the ability to be both manly and unusually sweet all wrapped up in one great guy. He was never judgemental or condescending. I was also very proud of his accomplishemts: the fact that my uncle was the highly-skilled mechanic selected for important Airforce test flights (how many of us have flown faster than the speed of sound!) impressed the heck out of me, and yet he was such a humble guy, more likely to ask you about your life than talk about his. It's so nice to learn more about your special relationship with your dad. He was as lucky to have you as you were to have him. BTW, there was a young man sitting in the waiting room while we were all with your dad during his last few days...we loved him from the first, and knew something special was waiting for you. Sometimes you can just tell, and it was comforting to us during a very difficult time. And look, we were right...that nice, good-looking guy is now your husband.

  6. I knew all of those stories except the dream one. I will always remember your dad as just a funny, great guy that joked around with us when we were teenagers and didn't take life too seriously. I know you miss him.

    A couple of weeks I had a couple of dreams about my sister, and I just keep wishing she'd show up in my dreams again.

  7. I love this post. How lucky you are to have had such a great relationship, even though taken away too quickly. The dream story is INCREDIBLE.

  8. Thanks for sharing your Dad with us. I worked with your Dad for many years and went on many deployments with him and even shared rooms with him. What a Great guy to have called "my Friend". Those shorts went with him wherever he went and like you said, he wore them alot. "Woody" was liked by all his co-workers and a most of us knew his time with us was going to come to an end. He never talked about it but it was felt every day. Some special times were in the "drop zone" in the hangar after work where we could expand our friendships and just "talk'. Your name would be spoken often by your Dad with great admoration and pride. Also your "sisters" name! I still take your Dad golfing with me every time I go and am proud to say your Dad was my friend. We find comfort in knowing he is with us always and we will see him again.

  9. You have such special memories of your dad. So vivid. I can picture him getting a tan wearing his short-shorts.

    It's wonderful that you had a relationship that went beyond the typical parent-child. It was a friendship that I hope to build with my own children.

    Hugs and Mocha,

  10. Michelle StringfellowFebruary 14, 2010 at 3:59 PM

    Oh Stephanie thank you for the memories of Uncle Shel. I'm laughing but also have tears running down my cheeks! You were so fortunate to have such a special relationship with your dad. I still don't understand why bad things happen to good people. Its so unfair.
    I remember going to Selfridge for Uncle Shel's memorial and then his good friend took us on a tour. I learned so much about Uncle Shel that day. He was an amazing man and he would be so proud of you Stephanie.

  11. This gave me a lump in my throat. what an awesome relationship. You are so lucky to have had such a special bond and how cool that he "met" your husband and gave his seal of approval.
    sending you hugs.