My dad did a lot to make me the person I am today. He gave me his green eyes and his love of puns, and he told me to check my oil every time I fueled up my car (excellent advice with a ‘77 Civic that burned oil). He gave me a set of basic tools to keep my first apartment in good repair, and I speak in acronyms because of him. While learning to be a private pilot, he created a flight plan for a solo flight that went over my horse camp, so that I could see it from above. He made his shoulder available when a boyfriend broke my heart, cosigned the loan for that old Civic and then taught me to drive its manual transmission. Although he didn’t agree with my plan to study in London for a quarter in college, he saw how much I benefited from it and admitted that he’d been wrong (a very rare occurrence). He had high expectations for me, which I now have for myself, and he taught me that I could do anything I set my mind to, as long as I persevered.
Unfortunately, he also struggled with chronic pain for a number of years and used a gun to commit suicide when he was only 68. Because he’d had access to a gun that day, he never met my husband and didn’t attend my wedding the year after his death. I loved my dad very much, but I hate that my husband will never know the man who taught me to use a drill, and he’ll never fully understand my deep affection for How The Grinch Stole Christmas. I hate that if I need to buy a car, my dad won’t tell me if it’s a good deal. I hate that his grandchildren didn’t have him at their graduations, and their children won’t enjoy riding in his boat. Most of all, though, I hate that he’s not here to hear me tell him how much he meant to me, to share a laugh and to give me advice.