Saturday, June 11, 2011

Sentimental Sunday: A Tribute to Dad

Dad, Cindy and me
NOTE: well, heck, I just realized I'm a week early on Fathers Day! At least now I know my cards were sent out in plenty of time... =p


Happy Fathers Day to all the dads out there. This is a bittersweet day for me since my own dad passed away on January 4, 2003, from congestive heart disease and a heart transplant that went badly. I was a "daddy's girl" and I still find it hard to talk -- or write -- about him without getting very emotional. Instead, I'm going to share with you some photos of him, as well as the tribute I read at his memorial service.
Tribute to My Dad (read at his memorial service on January 11, 2003)

When Cindy and I were growing up, we often heard friends tell us how cool our parents were and how lucky we were to have such great relationships with them.  We always knew that was the case and, even during those turbulent teen years, we valued and respected our Mom and Dad -- as both parents and friends.

Today, I’d like to share some memories that Cindy and I have shared, separately as well as together, with Dad as well as Mom.

Mom, Dad and me

* The first time I remember seeing Dad cry was when I moved away from home to go to college in San Diego.  My roommate came to pick me up, and I was so excited as we started to drive off to our new lives as young adults in a new city.  Then, I turned around for one more wave goodbye to my family and saw that my Dad was crying.  Of course, I knew that he would miss me, but I was so touched by his show of emotion.  Needless to say, I bawled for a good thirty miles or so down the road

* Even though my family and I missed each other while I was living away from home, we never went too long without visits.  I always loved it when my parents came to visit me in college -- it was so much fun to show them the sites and take them to my favorite bars in San Diego and, later, in San Luis Obispo.  Some of my favorite times where when they would bring my sister, family friends or aunts and uncles.  A particularly memorable time was when they and Mike and Lois Brenkwitz visited me in San Diego one July 4th weekend.  I took them on a rather lively tour of Tijuana that will remain in our memories for years to come.  In more recent years, I’ve relished visits from Mom and Dad to my home in San Francisco.  Dad was NOT a city person, but he was always willing to hand over the car keys and let me be his tour guide

* Dad and I had many things in common.  We tended to drive Mom and Cindy crazy with our deep -- and, at times, incessant -- discussions/debates on politics and social issues.  It’s from my Dad that I inherited my addiction to news and political commentary -- we didn’t always agree on issues or candidates, but we found that we generally were coming from the same place.  We also loved discussing technology and sharing new “toys” with each other -- another topic that drove Mom and Cindy crazy.  Finally, Dad and I shared a passion for music.  He taught me to appreciate western swing and the older country music of Willie Nelson, Patsy Cline, Bob Wills, Hank Thompson, Marty Robbins and many other artists.  He and Mom also let me tag along with them and the McCrearys to jazz festivals.  One of my last happy memories with Dad was when he was in the hospital at Stanford and one of the hospital musicians came into to his room to play guitar and sing a few songs.  Dad had been very depressed, but when Jeff started playing “San Antonio Rose,” and I sang along with him, Dad’s eyes lit up -- he was so uplifted that he joined in the singing as well.  
Dad and Cindy

*  Cindy felt especially lucky and privileged to have her Daddy walk her down the aisle on her wedding day.  Most of you know that Dad was not a man of many words, but the toast that gave that night was so moving because it came directly from his heart -- he was so proud of his little girl.  It was also icing on the cake knowing that Luis, her new husband, and Dad already were developing a great relationship.  After spending so much time in a family dominated by women, we think it made Dad very happy to be finally getting a son

*  The morning after Evan was born, everyone showed up at the hospital for a visit.  Liam got up on the bed with Cindy to meet his baby brother.  When Dad walked into the room and saw his daughter and two grandsons together for the first time, a tear came to his eyes.  This moment was especially touching for Cindy and is something she’ll hold dear to her.

*  Dad was such a proud grandpa, and he loved Liam and Evan so much.  I know that it bothered him that he didn’t have the energy to run after the boys or get down on the floor to play with him the way he would have liked to, but to see his eyes light up whenever the boys came to visit him and Mom was something to behold.  Liam and Evan loved their Papa Cow, too, and they both talk about him often and miss him very much.
Cindy, Mom, Pepper, Dad and me
at our house on Bird Road

* While Cindy and I had many separate memories of Dad, we also shared wonderful times with him together.  Some of our earliest memories of Dad were when he’d take us horse shoeing with him around Livermore, Pleasanton and Dublin.  He would let us hand him whatever tools he needed to do his job, or just let us loose to play with the kids or dogs who lived at the various ranches.  We’ll never forget the smell of horses and sweat that lingered in his ‘67 Ford pickup.  It’s a scent that -- even today -- both of us find sweet.

* While we were growing up, our family didn’t take trips to Europe, or even across the country.  Instead, most of our family vacations happened up in the Sierra Nevada mountains, usually camping with a motley group of family and/or close friends.  I think that one year, we camped in Yosemite at least four or five times -- we experienced that magnificent place in every season.  Dad loved the mountains more than anywhere else in the world, and he instilled that same love in Cindy and me.  When Cindy and I were old enough to have summer jobs, our parents started occasionally going up to the mountains without us -- while we were excited that they trusted us enough to leave us at home alone, I think that we secretly were a bit envious and sad that they were enjoying our favorite vacation stomping grounds without us!

* As we got older, we enjoyed many road trips with Mom and Dad -- big and small, well-planned as well as spontaneous -- but always memorable.  Their spur-of-the-moment trip to the North Rim of the Grand Canyon with Cindy and Luis always inspires laughter -- just mention the word “lizard” or ask about the “two dead coyotes driving down the road” and see what kind of reaction you’ll get.  It was during my trips to the Southwest with Mom and Dad that I developed an appreciation for Native American culture as well as the history of West.  I was always so honored to receive the occasional phone call from Mom and Dad, saying that they were thinking about taking a weekend road trip to Shasta or Eureka or wherever, and would I like to come along.  As you can see from the picture board and photo album we‘ve brought along today, these trips were treasured -- not just for the travel -- but for the special times we got to enjoy with both our parents.

Finally, one of my all-time favorite memories of both Mom and Dad together was witnessing a very fleeting, yet loving, moment between them just a few years ago.  I was home one weekend, watching TV in the living room.  I looked up to see Mom and Dad standing in the dining room with their arms around each other sharing a kiss and an “I love you”.  I thought, how cool is it that, after all these years, my parents are still in love with each other.  Their relationship was the solid foundation for our incredibly close-knit and loving family.

It’s so sad to think that we won’t have the chance to create more memories with Dad, but we’re so happy to have had all the happy times with him that we did.  We also know that Dad created memories with just about all of you, and we know that you are treasuring them in your own ways.  We miss Dad so much, and I know that he’s keeping an eye on us and will continue to share in our future memories in his own special way.
Again, Happy Fathers Day to everyone out there. While I'm missing my Daddy, I cherish all our memories together, and I hope you're all able to enjoy yours, as well. 
Dad, Mom and me on one of our Southwest vacations

1 comment:

  1. Hi Wendy, That was very special. I think that Daddy would be so proud of you and that he would get the biggest kick out of you being a week early with his Father's Day tribute. Love,MOM