Saturday, June 15, 2013

Pops, dad, papa, daddio

The approach of Father's Day always gets me thinking. For one, it makes me miss my own father very much (he died in '99). That was the same year I went through my divorce. We were 800 miles away from the nearest family and I had to go through it without my rock, my father. You can tell me he was and always has been with me in spirit but those are just empty words when all one truly needs is to have the presence in human form of the embodiment of unconditional love.

He wasn't a man of many words despite his articles in The Kankakee Journal's Voice of the People and other various publications. When it came to his kids, his thoughts were many, but his words profound and few.

Our relationship hadn't always been ideal. As a little girl, I was undoubtedly his baby. The last born of the brood he had with my mother, he seemed determined to do right by me. We had a special bond. Then, when my mother passed away in '81, it was quickly severed and we hit years of rough patches. No need to go into detail, but the relationship he and I had was almost withered to non-existent.

Eventually, he would meet and marry a spectacular woman who seemed to, in her own special way, manage to create a pathway for Dad and I (and the other kids) to rejoin. He was more approachable. His anger over losing his spouse of over 30 years had dissipated. My relationship with Harold L. Rapier became better than it had ever been. To know my father as an adult and speak with him in grown up tones was beyond compare.

Dad never minced words when advising me on my life choices, but never lost sight that, ultimately, they were my choices and he respected them. He said his peace and let it go. It couldn't be easy for him to allow me to screw up massively. While those errors must have been hard to witness and bite his tongue with the 'I told you so', he took that energy and converted it into rejoicing the triumphs with verve.

He loved my Mancub without bounds. He knew from the moment they met what unbelievable specialness my baby possessed. "He's an old soul, you know. He reminds me of your mother's uncle." Maybe so as Mancub would jibber jab with the rocking chair that was once my maternal grandfather's -- the brother of the uncle dad compared Mancub to. That chair was my nursing spot. Little man in infancy, would gurgle and coo as if looking at someone beyond my presence. When he learned to get around he'd go to that rocking chair and talk. Again, just babbling, but it seemed to have the cadence of a conversation. I simply accepted it and enjoyed the sound.

Mancub and I miss my dad greatly. What a blessing that little dude had at least 5 years to get to know Grandpa. He was, after all, the only one he knew. My son is 18 now, but those remarkable moments he and dad spent haven't been forgotten. He remembers being given Lion King 2 before we departed grandpa's house on a visit from Georgia. He recalls talking to him on the phone for the last time. Dad always called us on Sundays to get the weekly run down. We may have been separated geographically, but the connection of hearts made it feel we were in the same room.

It is no wonder that Mancub has elected to change his last name to my surname ... the last name of my father. He chooses to carry on my family name. I believe dad's heart would swell with great pride that his grandson would go through the legal rigamarole to have such an honorable last name.

Happy Father's Day, Dad. Mancub and I miss you every day.

Grandma Nancy, Mancub, uncle Aaron and Grandpa

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