My dad’s name was Bob, and he was great. He once caught a live canary mid-flight just by reaching his hand into the air and grabbing it, so you know he had to be pretty awesome.
Father’s Day can be kind of hard for me because my dad passed away seven years ago. Today I was thinking about all the things, little and big, that I miss about him. At first I thought I’d keep it to myself, and then I decided to share because I want other people to remember him too. I want my littlest nieces and nephews who never got to really know him and even my own someday children to know the funny and wonderful little details of who he was in life. I also want to make sure I don’t forget. I miss him a lot.
I miss seeing him. I miss his glasses and his Putnam Investments polos and his khakis. I miss his potbelly. I miss his ugly feet and the ridges in his fingernails. I miss his bald head and the weird, zig-zaggy veins at his temples. I miss the bump in his nose. I miss his blue, blue eyes that always managed to look simultaneously sleepy and friendly. I miss his little sideways half grin and his full, happy smile.
I miss hearing him. I can’t remember his voice, and it breaks my heart. I wish someone had warned me that I might forget, because then I would have made sure to remember.
I miss going to church with him. I’d sit next to him in Sacrament Meeting and play with his watch. He’d sometimes steal something from me – like my keys or chapstick – and he’d only give it back if I’d scratch his back. He couldn’t sing the hymns very well, but he was so good at being friendly. He’d make friends with the toddlers in benches near ours. Between meetings he’d smile and talk to his many friends in the ward
I miss learning the gospel from him. Often the lessons were silently given. I can’t count how many times I saw him at the living room table reading the scriptures or the Ensign. He showed me what it means to be a dedicated, loving home teacher. He also showed me what courage, patience, and faith in the face of suffering look like. Other times the lessons were more direct. When we had FHE, he’d always pepper us with question after question about the gospel. When, as a terrified 12 year old, I was called as a Beehive president, he taught me that we can always count on inspiration when we want to love and help someone.
I miss our walks. He went on a long walk several times a week, and sometimes I’d go with him. When I was a little kid, he’d take me on walks after it rained so that I could collect fishing worms for him. When I was older, he’d take me up on the Rims for hikes. I walk a few times a week now, and I always think of him when I do. I also love rainstorms more than any kind of weather.
I miss trying to get his help on homework. Like a lot of dads, he’d try to teach me “shortcuts” that only confused and frustrated me. He’d get grumpy and I’d get upset. Sometimes I’d cry. Then I’d go ask my brother for help.
I miss listening to him read Luke 2 on Christmas Eve. Hearing it now makes me miss him, but it also has new meaning. Because Christ was born, because He died, because He rose, I’ll see my father again someday.
I miss my dad’s sense of humor. I miss his belly laugh and the way he’d tease my mom, sometimes mercilessly. I miss his jokes and his stories. I miss the way he’d tickle me with so much force it hurt a little. I hate being tickled. Maybe it would be more honest to say miss him tickling my brothers as a form of revenge when they picked on me.
I miss traveling with him. He’d get stressed and MEAN on road trips, and we were allowed very, very few bathroom breaks. He'd curse. Once we got going, though, he’d calm down. We’d listen to the Beach Boys and golden oldies stations. He’d speed like crazy. He expected us to point out any wildlife we saw along the way, and the binoculars would come out if we saw something unusual. He was always so curious when we visited new places, and he and Mom travelled all over the world together. They created my love for museums, which I’m turning into a career. I’m also going to blame them for my dangerously expensive travel habit.
I miss the way he’d comfort me. When I was in fourth grade, I had a six-month bout of insomnia. Sometimes when I was crying because I couldn’t sleep, he’d come in and sit with me. He’d pray with me and read me comforting scriptures. He’d give me hugs.
I miss father’s blessings, although brother’s blessings are pretty great too.
I miss seeing him take care of his parents. He made sure we visited Grandma and Grandpa at least a couple of times a year. He’d have us talk to them on the phone every month or so, which I hated since I always feel awkward on the phone. He loved his parents so much, and I can’t remember him speaking badly of them.
I miss doing yard work with him. I remember him going around every spring with his little fertilizer dispenser, turning its crank handle. Before we had a sprinkler system, and sometimes even after, he’d put a hose on a part of the lawn, set a timer, and move it every fifteen minutes. When my brothers had left for college and missions, he started mowing the lawn again. He was so good about not letting the grass get long. When he was really sick and weak, I’d have to pull the start cord for him, but he still insisted on mowing the lawn himself. Eventually I took over the mowing (more grudgingly than I’m proud to admit), and I missed seeing him out in the yard.
I miss watching TV with him. He’d sit in his La-Z-Boy with a blue, fuzzy blanket. My cat would curl up on his lap and purr. We could never convince Dad not to channel surf during commercials.
I miss being outside with him. He loved the outdoors more than almost anything, and he taught his children to love nature too. He looked forward to hunting season every year. I can’t say I miss the dead deer hanging in our garage, but I do miss having fresh wild game whenever I want it. I miss fishing with him, and I miss how excited he’d get about it. I’m certain my family has fewer baby pictures of any of us than they do of freshly caught fish.
I miss his naps. He took a nap almost every day on his lunch break, and his eyes never seemed to close all the way. If you walked into the room, they’d follow you across, but he wouldn’t wake up. It was creepy, but also funny and wonderful.
I miss going to the cabin with him. It was my favorite place in the whole world as a kid (I have enough drawings and get-to-know you school assignments to prove it), and I think it was his favorite place too. It’s a little bittersweet now because that’s where he told us he had cancer, but all the memories of family fish fries, pinochle games, squirrel feeding, and trips to the Playmill and Yellowstone outweigh that one sad memory. After Grandma and Grandpa left the cabin to Dad, we spent every other summer weekend trekking to Idaho to take care of the place. We’d cut down trees and have giant bonfires. We'd eat Rice-a-Roni. We’d also go fishing, of course.
I miss his dedication to his work. I miss calling him at his office and having his receptionist, co-worker, and friend Joan say, “Let me get your daddy for you.” I miss seeing him behind his desk. I miss going to his office to call siblings on their missions. I miss decorating his office for Christmas. I miss the ridiculous, dancing, singing snowman-Christmas tree hybrid he had there.
I miss his hugs. I may not remember his voice, but I distinctly remember what it felt like to hug him. He gave the best hugs.
I have more memories, but I should probably stop there. I have lots of things that I wish. I wish that my father and I could know each other as adults. I wish I had asked him more questions about growing up, his mission, meeting my mom, and so many other things. I wish I had spent more time with him. I wish I had helped him more, especially when he was sick.
More than that, though, I’m glad that I get to be his daughter. He was far from perfect – he had a strong temper, he hated change, and he watched too much TV. He got better as he got older, though – kinder, gentler, more patient with other people and with God’s will. He may not have been perfect, but he was just the right dad for me and for my six brothers and sisters.
I’m going to spend a long time, almost a lifetime, missing him, but then I get to have him forever. Forever’s a much longer time than a lifetime, and I truly thank God for that.