10 Things I remember about my Dad

Dear Fellow Journalers,

The following is a moving tribute from G.

My Dad has been dead for 28 years now, but of course, there are things I will never forget about him. 
Now let it be known that my Dad and I were polar opposites. Things he did well, I couldn’t, and vice versa. I know there are fathers and sons who are peas in a pod, but not Dad and I. But still, we managed to form a very strong bond between us, and we had it all our lives. Here are 10 illustrations.
  1.  Anytime I did something Dad thought was right and just,  honest, true and holy, he seldom said I love you, or was proud, he just gave that deep nod and smile of approval, and that meant more than anything. 
  2. The Christmas I got a toy gun that shot ping-pong balls, and Dad and I had target practice on Moms’ precious tree ornaments. Dad took the blame for it all. Mom “punished” him severely, both for his part, and for covering up for me. 
  3. My sister had a very sickly childhood. Somewhere around the age of 10, without being asked or told, I took my place in the rotation of her caregivers. Dad simply put his hand on my shoulder, squeezed hard, and said that God would bless me for this. Since Dad was not religious, this meant a lot. 
  4. The time Dad put himself in peril by placing himself between an attacking dog and me. Dad killed the dog with his bare hands, and said “nobody hurts my family.” The lesson was not lost on me. 
  5. Another Christmas when I got EVERYTHING I wanted. It had been a very difficult year with my brother always in trouble and my sister always sick. I did my best to be on my best behavior, and did what I could to help. I bet it took Dad years to pay off that Christmas. 
  6. The time I went to the store to help Dad, and it came down to enough money for Dads’ God awful unfiltered Camels, (no wonder I have a lifelong hatred of smoking) and me getting an ice cream. And yes, the ice cream was good. Dad said he enjoyed his bite too. 
  7. I was leaving for Viet Nam from the New Haven airport. I kissed Mom and my girlfriend goodbye. Dad came over, grabbed my neck, and I’m positive, having NO idea what he was saying, said: “Come home alive or I’ll kill you!” 
  8. I only saw Dad cry twice in his life. When my son was born he looked at him with amazing love, and with tears in his eyes, said: “Now the future of our family passes to you and him.”
  9. The day Dad insisted the distinction of “Big Ray” and “Little Ray” that was always between us, be abolished. 
  10. The day, lying on his deathbed, dying from the ravishes of cancer, he said what I believe are the words of EVERY Father to their sons: “I’m sorry I couldn’t have done better.” 
Now, I’m damn sure that everyone of you could write a list like this about YOUR Father. Stop, stop whatever you’re doing now, and go do it! 
Then, on Fathers Day, if your Dad is still with you, go see him and read your list to him. If he’s not still with you, go to his grave and read it to him. 
Fathers come in only two categories: Good and Bad. No matter which yours is in, he deserves this final tribute or condemnation from you. He is / was YOUR FATHER. 

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