Jen’s Gem: A father’s love makes all the difference.
Today is Father’s Day. For me – it’s the first Father’s Day without my Dad. Already gone almost seven months, his passing is still fresh in my mind as are the many lessons he taught me. Some bigger than others, but all valuable in their own way.
Next week, my daughter and I will be traveling to Long Island for a college visit. Coincidentally – or not – it is the college where my father obtained his master’s degree. Raising six children, being a full-time music teacher, playing gigs on the weekends, managing a music store, and pursuing higher education so that he could get a bump in his teacher’s pay – that’s who my Dad was.
He (and mom for that matter) lived in a time where there was no such thing as “work-life balance” but rather “you do what you have to do to support your family.” There was no whining because you couldn’t have a moment to yourself or go on vacation. There was no “just put it on the credit card” when you couldn’t afford something. There was no “let’s order takeout” when you were too tired to cook.
It was a different time. A different generation. I suspect my parents would likely roll their eyes at many of the parents of today (including me) and tell them they don’t know how easy they have it.
While my mom was the parent who doled out hugs and kisses, my Dad refrained, at least until his later years. During my and my children’s visits, he’d often reach out to hold my hand or pat their arm. The hugs I would receive from his frail body still comforted me and I struggled to pull away not knowing if there’d be another.
Each time we walked out of the door to return home, he’d admonish me to call him and when I did, he’d always tell me how nice it was to see us and that he missed me.
My Dad was a tough cookie on the outside but there was a bit of a softie on the inside. He was wicked smart, an entrepreneurial genius, and a gifted musician who played with the likes of Count Basie and other renowned musicians. There was nothing more important than family.
He was a great storyteller and my one regret is not documenting these while he was alive. He led a colorful life before he settled down with my mom and I would’ve loved to have shared those events with my children.
My Dad taught me to drive a stick-shift, repeatedly told me what the music notes were above and below the clefs, and was the parent who drove me to and from college. He openly shared his opinion of my dating choices (why didn’t I listen?) and felt comfortable telling me when I was over parenting my kids.
When I told him about the retirement options on my first job, he instructed me to invest immediately and to take advantage of every option my company offered. He thoroughly enjoyed (and helped me pay for) the snazzy Toyota MR2 I drove for many years. “That was a fun car,” he’d tell me from time to time.
At holiday meals, my father was the one who said the prayer – or tried to. He’d blurt out a word or two about how nice it was to have everyone around the table, but then get too choked up to finish. My mom would have to step in and close the deal.
He would listen attentively as my kids bantered on about their schoolwork or sports accomplishments. He always had a piece of advice to share with them. I wonder if they remember.
I miss my Dad.
I miss hearing him calling me “Jenny” – the only person I permitted to do so. I miss him laughing at my jokes and stories. I miss ourSunday morning crossword puzzles. I miss watching him play his beloved bass and croon a Frank Sinatra song that rivaled the original. I miss him shouting out the answers to Jeopardy when we’d watch together.
I’ll be forever grateful that I was his daughter and on this Father’s Day, I’ll keep him close to my heart and do my best to remember all he taught me. I will continue to honor him by imparting his wisdom to my children and making sure they value family as he did.
Happy Father’s Day Dad…I love you!