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Thursday, February 23, 2006

Since You've Been Gone

Today marks one year since my dad lost his battle with cancer. It's hard to believe he has been gone a whole year. And sometimes, it seems he has been gone forever. Death is weird like that. I never knew how much I would miss him. I guess we never do, right? I think about him so much more than I could have ever imagined.

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This is one of my favorite pictures of my dad. We were at Brookfield Zoo and he was pushing me in a stroller. As you can tell, Dad was no sex kitten. He was never into frills and thrills. He was just your basic guy enjoying life.

He never said much but when he did, it was always something incredibly funny. He had the most amazing quick-witted sense of humor of anyone I've ever known.

We had to torture him by ripping out his leg hair to get a negative reaction from him. He was always the calm parent. Sorry Mom, but you were the disciplinarian, the yeller and to this day, you remain the warden. (She hates when I call her that.)

Angie and I used to crawl under the kitchen table and rip Dad's leg hair out, just for shits and giggles. He would fake a kick to either of our heads, tell us in a sarcastic tone how cute we were, and then would go back to reading the newspaper or drinking his coffee.

Ang and I were attention whores. Dad didn't give enough reaction the first couple of times, so we persisted. That was usually followed by him flaring his nostrils, rolling his tongue and biting down on it. When he made that face, we knew he meant business, but it never failed to make us laugh.

Sometimes after crawling out from under the table, with a handful of leg hair, I would smack his newspaper out of his hands. One time he saw me winding up and held tightly onto the paper so it wouldn't be ripped out of his hands. My Kung Foo action tore that sucker in two. That man rolled his tongue at me that day.

I don't know why he never beat any of us. Not even a little crack on the ass. But no fail, we would run as if he was about to give chase. Every once in a while he would whine Mom's name as if he were another one of the kids telling on us for acting up. We were amused by that too.

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A big guy like my dad could be scary or intimidating, but he had a kind trust that oozed out of him. (Lane 1 5-years-old)

Thinking back on the last year, it's been really hard not having that man around. It's kind of funny in a way. Whenever I called my parent's house, I always just talked to my mom. I would ask her to tell Dad certain things but before he became sick, I didn't talk to him very often. That is, until he got a cell phone.

Initially, we were all excited for him. He was coming into the technology age and had his first real gadget. Each of us kids programmed our phone numbers into his phone so he could use it more easily. Every night he would clip his cell onto his belt and go off to work the night shift. He had his specific call times during his breaks and lunch. Mom has always been a night owl so it wasn't unusual for him to ring her at 2 a.m.

When it's 9 p.m. in Oahu, it's 2 a.m. here. Dad thought that would be a good time to call my brother Mark who lived out there. It never failed, Dad always forgot what kid was what speed dial number. If my phone rang at 2 a.m. now, I would be worried that someone somewhere was hurt, but back then, I always knew it was my dad misdialing. It was during those accidental calls that he and I did the majority of our talking. He would always begin with, "Oh shit Honey. Sorry to wake you. I thought Mark was number six." Those accidental calls were the best. I don't know why he had so much more to talk about when it was an accidental call than when he was intentionally calling, but it always struck me funny.

One time he bumped his cell phone, which resulted in him accidentally and unbeknownst to him, calling me. I could hear him whistling, coughing, talking to people and then, I heard him start to pee. That was where I gave up my efforts of trying to scream "DAD!" into the phone and hung up. Okay, so maybe those accidental calls weren't all that great.

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When we lived in California, my mom and dad came to visit. It was the first time he ever saw the ocean. He stood in awe, taking it all in, until a wave crashed over him, giving him "beach balls."

Those are just a small handful of memories I don't ever want to forget. How his angry face looked, how his eyes twinkled when he smiled, how the smirk crossed his lips when something sarcastic was about to pass them. I guess in a way I'm worried that time and the sadness of him being gone will erase them.

Q & As will return tomorrow.