Father’s Day 2020 CE

My dad was always my best friend growing up. He was the manager of an apartment complex along with my mother. It was the 1980s version of my parents working at home. He worked in the shop which was a few buildings away from our place, Building 4 apartment 1. After school I would always go to where he was working, these were the days when a seven-year-old kid could roam the town by themselves.
I was always welcome there and he was always excited to see me. I loved hanging out with him there, he smelled like talcum powder and sawdust. He always had a project for me to work on, and he was always teaching me how to do something, passing on his knowledge, and genuinely enjoying being with me.
On the weekends he would take me everywhere with him. I remember places like the Collingwood Auction & Flea Market, the car races at Wall Stadium, and we would always stop at Collingswood Diner or Connie’s restaurant for breakfast. He always treated me like a person for as far back as I can remember, never less than.
To me, he was a magical superhero that knew everything, was all-powerful and could protect me and keep me safe.
I was his sidekick and little buddy. There was never a day that would pass that he didn’t tell me about ten times how much he loved me, and how special I was, and how much I meant to him. I would often reply that ”It’s only me, I’m just a person”. This went on until his last days. In the final years of his life, he knew he didn’t have long as he was in a lot of pain from cancer. We would have long conversations about his childhood, his time in Korea, his time working at General Motors, and his first marriage and children, the mistakes he made, and what he was proud of. As he grew sicker he would tell the same stories over and over again. Luckily I had learned before that point that it didn’t matter that they were the same stories, what mattered was I was there to listen. I knew every day could be the last day I might see him, so I cherished all our time together. I’m glad I did, hearing those stories over and over permanently set them in my memory. I realize now, maybe without him even knowing it, he was uploading into my brain the experiences he had in his life that may help me later in my life. Those times are very special to me. In between the stories he would always reiterate how much I meant to him, I still didn’t really understand. He told me all the time that I wouldn’t understand how much he loved me until I had my own child. It was his greatest joy being a father and he wanted that for me. At that time I didn’t think I was capable of being a dad, and I wasn’t sure I even wanted kids. It seems silly to even think that now, but I wasn’t me yet. After the sepsis from the botched colonoscopy, he went downhill pretty fast. He was in and out of the hospital, he had swollen up with fluid so much and gotten much weaker so he couldn’t get around by himself anymore, and both I and my mother together couldn’t lift him and he kept falling so the firemen became regular visitors to his home to help pick him up off the floor and get him to the bed. He never lost his sense of humor or positive outlook. The last time he went to the hospital he didn’t come home, he was moved to a care facility and then hospice. This was over a few months, during that time I spent every evening with him sleeping on the couch next to him, holding his hand, we would watch VHS movies they had at the hospice and just talk. My mom was there in the day, and I was there at night. He was hardly alone ever during those times. One of our last conversations was again about how much he loved me and how he wanted me to have my own child so I would have that same joy. He was on a morphine pump for the pain, so sometimes he was out of it, but even when he didn’t know where he was or what was going on, he always remembered he loved me. I’ll never forget that. He told me in the last few days of his life that he knows I’m going to be a good dad and it is going to be the best thing I ever did. He was sad he wasn’t going to be able to meet her and I remember he said ”I love her already, tell her I love her” At the time it seemed strange that he knew I would have a kid, and it would be a girl. Maybe that’s why when the time came in my life. I wanted a girl.
The last words I spoke to him were ”I love you, dad, I’ll see you tomorrow.” and I kissed him on the forehead. He was in a lot of pain but was doing his best to be strong. I waved as I left the room and said one last time ”I love you”. I took a few seconds to look at him, it had become a tradition because I never knew if I would see him again. That was the last time I saw him.
I couldn’t have asked for a better father, he was my age when he had me, and I thought he had all the answers, I now know that he was just a guy doing his best, as am I.
Some time passed, I got married, and one day I told Serenity’s mom that I thought it was time to have a child and she felt the same way, we lost the first baby, that was and still is heartbreaking, but we kept trying and we were able to have the best little girl in the world.
Becoming a dad myself was a frightening idea to me. I had so much to live up to, just to be half the dad my father was. I was absolutely terrified up until the point of Serenity’s birth. I’ve said it many times but, my brain clicked as I saw the top of my baby’s head, at that moment I fell in love, I knew who I was, and what my life was for, and how happy I was to be a father from that moment on. I cried with joy.
The first few weeks of being a dad there was not a lot of sleep, a lot of dirty diapers, and just absolute pure joy. When my unpaid two-week paternity leave was over, it broke my heart every time I had to leave her. This went on for a while, all I could think about while I was at work was getting back home to my baby. I’d think about how I was always able to be with my dad and how I wanted that. How after his heart attack and stroke when we moved to Cape Coral, he couldn’t really work anymore and became my primary caregiver while my mom was out working hard to support the family. Luckily even with his illnesses, he was still able to provide for us with all the social security he had paid in. Social security and what my mom made gave us a good stable life. I never once did without. The best part was every day after school my dad would be home and we’d spend the day together. I knew I had to figure something out to spend more time at home with Serenity while still providing for her.
My friend Frankie believed in me, saw my situation, and offered to help. He ”sponsored me” and gifted me four months of my normal salary at the time to quit my job and find a work at home career. Luckily it all worked out, the first company I worked for was owned by a great guy, but I just wasn’t the right fit, then I was fortunate to find the company I’ve worked with for the past five-plus years. It was the second-best decision I ever made. Having Renny was my best. I cherish every moment I get to spend with her, it was 24-7 for a few years, now it’s only 24-3.5 unfortunately, but we make the most of the time we have together. My mom frequently reminds me on the days that I’m sad because Renny isn’t with me that because she is homeschooled and I work at home, I spend more time with her in half the week than most parents do with their kids while working outside the home and if she was in traditional school. It helps a bit, but I’ll never get used to a day without her. I’ve parented as best I can from the example I had. I never treat Renny as less than, from day one I’ve treated her as a person because she is. She has her own mind, personality, hopes, and dreams. I see a lot of me, my mom, and my dad in Renny’s personality. She is smart, kind, funny, full of energy, and loves life. I am very lucky and proud to be her dad.
My dad was right. I had no idea how much he loved me until I had Serenity. My dad was my best friend, then my wife was my best friend, now Serenity is my best friend. She is my sidekick, my buddy, my everything, and my whole world. I tell Serenity every day how much I love her, how she gives my life meaning, and how lucky I am to be her dad. She says ”I know dad!” but I know that she really won’t know how much I love her until she has her own child. When that time comes, I hope all my words now have more meaning then, and she shares the same joy I’m experiencing being a parent. I love my dad, and I love being Serenity’s dad. I always tell Serenity that grandpa loved her even before she was born, that’s how special she is.