I should probably put something mind blowing here... or at least mushy-squishy. I'm not mushy-squishy. I guess it's evident in the fact that we celebrate "Polkafest". What the hell is Polkafest? Keep your pants on, I'm getting there. I'll warn you, this'll jump around a bit.
The Hubs sometimes jokingly gives me, "affection lessons". He'll wrap my arms around him and state, "this is how you love". He's not being serious... I hope... but I've realized I'm a lot like my Dad in that department. I'm not the type to wrap my arms around you and love on ya and... touch ya. Is it ironic that I am a massage therapist? Yes, I would agree with you. Hubs on the other hand is just a genuinely nice guy with um, way less social awkwardness than I. What am I getting to? I grew up with a Navy Dad who was in no way mushy-squishy and if you knew him personally, you know that to say that this is an understatement, is, in fact, an understatement.
I won't try to capture all that is "Dad" in one blog post. That's impossible. It's also impossible not to think of a million what ifs on the 7th anniversary of his death. What if my four kids had ever known him? What if he had gotten to know the Hubs a lot better? What if he was around to give the point blank objective advice that always sucked hearing, but was pretty damn good? What if he was still at church every Sunday with his buddies? What if he got to take my kids to Dairy Queen for an icecream cone? What if my Mom and Dad's house was still there as a refuge? ... but what if he was still sick and suffering...?
My Dad would say, "Well, you can wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which comes out first"....? Some of that sound advice you don't want to hear, but is pretty spot on.
One of my friends still refers to my Dad as "Sir". I guess that pretty adequately demonstrates my Dad's personality. I don't recall my pal ever calling him "Jerry". He commanded that kind of authority and respect. Because of this, it was always so special to me if I told a joke or said something funny and he'd genuinely laugh. Likewise, I once boarded a plane to St. Louis and just before stepping onto the airport curb, he gave me a hug... one of the most awkward moments of my life, in a good way.
It's only as a parent that I've come to realize the full extent to which he sacrificed and worked for our family. This parenting shit is hard and the choices that come along and the work that must be done is for the most part, overwhelming. While I've established I am not "mushy-squishy"... I wish I could thank him.
So... Polkafest. Some of my Dad's sound advice around the death of my best friend was to leave the family alone and let them mourn. It seemed heartbreaking. I had been at their house quite a bit. When Dad died, I remembered his advice regarding my best friend and realized how he would probably like to be remembered after he died. Not a lot of pomp and circumstance, not a bunch of crying and "carrying-on". As a kid and even now I know more polkas than you can shake a stick at... a very odd gift here in 2011. Dad played 'em everywhere and loved 'em. He also loved bratwurst, sausages and any other over the top fattening Octoberfest type fare you can think of. After balling my eyes out on Dad's first death anniversary I decided it certainly didn't help and didn't make me feel any better. Why not celebrate the fact that he doesn't have to battle cancer any more ('Fuck Cancer' should be the ACS's motto, I'm convinced) and that he lived a great life. Every year my family plays polka music, eats bratwurst, saurkraut, pierogies and just... smiles. We've chosen to celebrate. The last thing he'd want is any "belly achin'".
So here's to you Dad. Happy Polkafest.