Hi Dad…It’s Me

Dear Daddy,

It’s Father’s Day and since I sent Mom a virtual Mother’s Day card via a blog post, I figured I’d better do the same for you – just to keep things even. You may be thinking, “But you sent me a card already. And, uh…not to state the obvious but I’m still alive.”

Well, it’s simple. The Hallmark card was nice but it’s likely you have already forgotten what it said. It’s likely it’ll be taken down from its spot on the dining room buffet shortly so as to not confuse you.

It’s likely you don’t know who it’s from.

As I was reading my Sunday paper today, for no particular reason, I opened up the comics section looking for a Sunday crossword puzzle. There was none. I wasn’t sure why I expected there to be since I live in a different state with a completely different newspaper.

And even if there was one, what would I have done with it?

Would it have warmed my heart to give it a try remembering the Sunday mornings that you and I would diligently work on the puzzle at the kitchen table? Or would I have given up after a few attempts realizing that in no way would this activity resemble those fun times with you.

I miss those Sunday mornings. I miss clamoring for the answers to the vague puzzle clues that sometimes required the use of Google to answer (though we both claimed credit for them). I miss you holding up the finished product and stating, “We make a good team.” I miss trying to figure out how in the world you came up with words I’d never heard of and when I’d question how you knew, you’d just say “Guess it’s from doing puzzles all these years.”

It’s funny what we remember, isn’t it? Like you, I struggle sometimes with remembering what I had for breakfast yesterday, yet my memories of you are strong and vivid.

I remember eating breakfast with you before school and watching you go off to work in your suit and tie to teach music to middle-school kids.

I remember you leaving the house on various evenings with your beloved upright bass to play a gig after teaching all day and the next morning, seeing it on its side on the living room floor.

I remember you in your music store surrounded by guitars and records and sheet music and a big sign out front, “Lamendola’s Music Shoppe”.

I remember jam-packed auditoriums filled with people coming to hear your renowned high-school jazz band and marveling at how you got those kids to play like pro’s.

I remember you singing Frank Sinatra tunes when I was old enough to go to the clubs where you played and thinking, “My dad is a rock star!”

I remember you standing outside of your parent’s house after my college graduation handing me the keys to my new car.

I remember you holding my kids when they were infants despite your trepidation about doing so.

I remember you choking back tears at every holiday dinner when you tried to say grace.

I remember you forcing me to play the piano after my hand surgery when I thought I’d never play again.

I remember you at Mom’s funeral when the realization that your wife of over 60 years was gone.

You see, Dad, I have lots of memories of you but it’s likely you have none of me anymore. This despicable disease called Alzheimer’s stole them like a thief in the night. One by one, it yanked them out of your memory leaving you with only scraps of a life well-lived and filled with accomplishments not had by many.

I will call you today to hear your voice. I will wish you a Happy Father’s Day and tell you that I love you. I will attempt to talk to you knowing that it may be a one-sided conversation. I will tell you that I will see you soon. I will hold back the tears that will inevitably fill my eyes as I long for the conversations of the past where our shared quick wits would compete for the biggest laugh.

But when the day is done, I will be grateful that you are on the other end of the telephone line and not in some other realm like Mom. I will do my best to overcome my selfishness of wanting my Dad back. I will send up a prayer that God will let you know that it’s my voice on the other end of the phone, that your daughter loves you and misses you.

Your memories are safe with me. Documented via blog posts and personal journal entries that one day my children will read. The legacy you left will not be lost or forgotten.

When my grandchildren ask about my dad, I will tell them all the stories I remember about you. When they ask why they have a love of jazz, I’ll say it’s from you. When they want to be a teacher, I’ll say, “Your great-grandpa was a teacher.” When they are filled with a wanderlust to travel the country with a band, I’ll say “I know where that came from.”

One day, when I speak of you in the past tense via these writings, I’ll know that your memory has been fully restored and you will be finishing crossword puzzles without the help of Google or me for that matter. You will be playing your bass with the big bands in the sky. You will be watching over your family remembering all you accomplished.

And when I send up heavenly Happy Father’s Day wishes, you will know exactly where they are coming from and you will remember me.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy…It’s me.

Jen’s Gem: Document the legacy of your parents and grandparents. Be their memory.

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