Sunday, June 15, 2008

Father's Day

(Edited Sunday night to add a couple photos.)

At 4, I was old enough to know something serious was happening but too young to understand what that was. I remember my mom looking scared - something that to this day, I haven't seen very often - and I remember my dad looking strange but still, I couldn't really make sense of it. I remember that he was sitting in the blue and white chair in the corner of the living room, slightly hunched over. I remember walking over to him and leaning against his big legs and I remember him putting a hand on the top of my head. I remember him saying softly, "Do you hear the ambulances coming for Daddy?" and realizing that yes, I could hear ambulances getting louder and louder. And then I don't remember anything else. That was the last time I saw my dad, dead of a heart attack at 38. When I was a kid, 38 seemed so old and out of reach. Now every year that goes by I realize how desperately young that was. My older brothers are both older than 38 and my husband is just a little over a year from that. I'm not that far away from it myself. 38. God.

I have a hodgepodge of memories, some of which I'm pretty sure are genuine and some of which I'm pretty sure I only "remember" because I've heard the same story so many times. I've had a long time to get used to not having my dad around and for the most part, Father's Day goes by me without much of a thought. I don't know, this year it's been different for some reason. I think it's partly another year of celebrating Mother's and Father's Day with no kids of our own, a long story probably best saved for another time. Part of it is all the Father's Day's headlines this year, many revolving around the sudden death of Tim Russert at 58. Also far too young but still 20 years more than my dad had.

It's probably also because I really think my dad would get a kick out of this blog. I think he'd get a kick out of his little girl - not any of his three sons but his little girl - devotedly writing a blog about a hockey team. I don't even really know how big of a sports fan he was and I don't know anything about him in regards to hockey other than knowing that he and my mom once went to a hockey game together where he got hit with a puck. But I don't know, it's just a feeling. I also think he'd get a kick out of the fact that after growing up in the sunny south, I wandered back up to the snowy north, not all that far from where he grew up. I like to think that if he were alive today maybe some part of him would still have a soft spot for the Penguins even after all those years in Alabama and I like to imagine us having conversations about Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin and Derek Roy and Thomas Vanek. I think that would be nice.

Mark spent a lot of last night watching videos of Tim Russert, many of which had to do with his Buffalo Bills. In one of those, Russert talked about speaking to the team at a luncheon before the season began and this is what he said:

When you go out on that field, I know you're playing for your pride, I know you're playing for your career but you're also playing for this life called Buffalo. This life that represents people who honestly believe that against all the odds, that against some of the worst weather imaginable, they have a magnificent life that they're proud of.

I know exactly what Russert is talking about and I know my dad would be proud of the simple but maginficent life I've made here. I know that he would be glad that despite some bumps in the road, I can and would say I'm happy and blessed.

But I'm sorry he's not here to see it himself. If you're fortunate enough to have a father in your life, don't forget to hug his neck and thank him and tell him you love him not just today but as often as you possibly can. If you're lucky enough to be a father, don't take a single moment with your children for granted because some day every one of those moments will be a precious memory for you and them.

In honor of Tim, my dad and all the dads in Buffalo, those who are still with us and those who aren't, I offer a hearty, "Go Bills!"

Mark and his dad, also gone far too soon, on the left. My dad and me on the right.

My dad and uncle. Dad's the one in full uniform. Their dad was Scottish so they grew up playing in pipe bands. They hated it but I think it's awesome.

(We'll return to our regularly scheduled, more light-hearted posting shortly.)


Kate said...

Aw, beautiful post Heather. I'm so sorry about your Dad.

amy said...

Heather, this is such a great post. I'm sitting here sniffling, and I just gave my father an extra hug.

Thank you for sharing your thoughts and story.

Anne M said...

What a lovely post, Heather. I'm so sorry about your father.

karen said...

I know your Dad would be proud of you! I'm sorry he isn't around to share hockey with makes a good family spectator sport.

Patty (in Dallas) said...

Beautiful post, Heather.

Pookie said...

This is a beautiful, beautiful post, Heather. I'm so sorry for your loss, and for Mark's loss, and your family's loss.

And the photos are so wonderful. The one of you and him is so sweet!

Heather B. said...

Thanks, guys. I wavered on posting this since it seems like kind of a downer so I'm glad you guys thought it was okay. I'm usually not quite this melancholy but it was just one of those years.

Lee Andrew said...

The year is only have over. Good things are to come. Starting with my birthday in 12 days! What are you getting me???

Patty (in Dallas) said...

I LOVE bagpipes!!

What adorable pictures. So sorry your dads aren't around to see how well you turned out.

Jennifer said...

Thanks for posting your story Heather. I lost my dad to suicide when I was 8 years old and my mom and I were the ones to find him. That was a terribly traumatic experience for an 8 year old. But on the bright side, I have the most awesome step-dad in the world. He and my mom didn't meet and marry until I was out of high school, but we formed an instant bond and he is the one person that is willing to listen to me rant about hockey and not roll his eyes. And he accompanied me and my daughter to out first Sabres game last fall in Raleigh.

Again, thanks for sharing!

Jaime said...

That was a wonderful tribute to your dad. I'm sure he would be proud. On a sidenote, I actually own a pair of bagpipes but cannot play them.

Heather B. said...

Lee, in honor of Dad I'm getting you a brand new kilt :P

Jennifer, I'm so sorry to hear about your dad! I can't even imagine what a difficult thing that must've been to experience especially since you were old enough to really get it. I'm glad you ended up with such an awesome step-dad though! Thank you for sharing!

Jaime, I went through a period in high school where I really thought about learning to play bagpipes but I never followed through on it. Maybe some day!

LeeAndrew said...

I never used to like kilts but then I saw Duff wear one on Ace of Cakes and now I want one.

Myra said...

Heather, I loved your post. I lost my dad a little over a year ago. He was 83 and had been ill off and on for a while, so obviously not the same situation. However, I miss him dearly. I'm not sure what my dad would think about my new found love of hockey. He'd probably just laugh, but boy would he love this whole blogging thing! Thanks for sharing.