(Originally posted December 2010) I’ve heard a lot of wonderful things about my dad over the past few days, and I’ve had plenty of time – more than I ever wanted – to think about the characteristics that made him so loveable. My dad was a rare combination of funny, sweet, generous, hard-working, and complete and utter smart ass.
I was, and always will be, a daddy’s girl. I will never forget him taking me to WWF Wrestling Superstars and pretending for my sake that it wasn’t fake, watching Star Trek with me, and packing the whole family up for Pez conventions. He and I were collectors of oddities, lovers of weirdness and laughers at inappropriate jokes. Just a few weeks ago my dad told me he missed my purple hair. He was just so cool.
My mom was the absolute center of my dad’s universe; I think that’s my favorite thing about him. There are plenty of boys in Chicago who can tell you that it’s my dad’s fault they weren’t good enough for me. And one who can tell you I fell in love with him because he reminds me so much of my dad.
My parents taught me everything I know about true love. That it isn’t always perfect, but it’s real. They were best friends – the kind you only see in the movies. No one can make my mom laugh the way my dad did. His made up words, the way he nicknamed everyone, his silly dances, his pranks.
I remember my mom being afraid my dad would get in trouble at work for pulling something over on the wrong person. Like the time he glued all the recycling end-to-end just to watch people scratch their heads at the impossible tower of garbage. Or the time he Photoshopped himself into someone else’s family vacation photo. The other night my sister told me about a time, a few years ago, when dad hid a cicada shell in her make up bag and hid around the corner with my mom. They laughed so hard they nearly peed their pants when she spotted the shell, flung her bag into a basket on the wall and knocked everything down in the bathroom in the process.
As much as he loved to give people a hard time, no one had a bigger heart than my dad. He cried when he had to fire people at work. His heart broke for a co-worker’s sick child, and for the children he’d see in Mexico without any shoes or toys. So when people say to me “He was a sweet, sweet man,” all I can say is “He really was.”
My dad lost his own father when he was a teenager, I remember him telling me that was why it was so important that we grew up close to my cousins, uncles and my aunt. Family sticks together. So here we are, saying goodbye to the man we all loved more than words can say. And we’re together, the way he would have wanted us to be.
Today our hearts are broken. The world has lost a truly wonderful person; everyone in this room has lost a friend. But when I close my eyes and I see his warm smile, I’m honored to say that man was my dad. My first love, my favorite guy – and I will miss him always.