Not My Dad

Let’s start here: My life is strange. None of my stories sound like they’re normal and I’ve come to just expect weirdness and complication and just roll with it.

Several years ago, my dad died. I was just embarking on the incredible adventure of adulthood – which for me included getting married, a period of not having an address, starting a career and nearly dying. A few days after I was released from the hospital, my dad lost his battle with cancer. I sometimes wonder if he held on just to make sure I was okay. My life may look like smooth sailing on Instagram sometimes, but it’s had a lot of ups and downs and a few tunnels I almost didn’t make it out of.

My mom eventually started dating, which was weird. She found a nice man and married him. When you boil it all down, he’s my stepfather. But that feels really weird to say. In my head, you get a step-parent as a child and then keep them through adulthood. When you’re already grown up and your mom marries someone, you get a Keith. Okay, I got a “Keith,” you may get a “Bob” or “Jim” or whoever. He’s a guy who is married to my mom and he’s part of the family. For us, it seems to work really well. My siblings and I call him by his first name and my nieces and nephews call him “Opa.”

But to someone outside of our family or who don’t know the history, it’s hard to explain a Keith. Continue reading

Candy Memories

You know how there are little things that will always remind you of someone? Like every time I see a greyhound or something with a greyhound on it, I think of my friend Natalie. Whenever I see anchors or nautical-themed things, I think of my cruise-loving mother in law.

When I see certain candies, I think of my dad. My dad was a fan of hard candies. He had four favorite kinds of hard candies: Peppermints, lemon drops, cinnamons and Horehounds (brown candies that have a unique flavor that reminded me of licorice and root beer).

They’re the kind of candies that you find in the paper bag packages at the Cracker Barrel country store. The ones with very distinct and very different flavors. Continue reading

Short a Dad

The timing of everything in my life with Father’s Day is, to say the least, inconvenient. Aside from all sorts of things house/home related, I’m doing things, going places and experiencing moments that I want nothing more than to share with my dad.

My new(ish) staff member is a young man who just moved into his first apartment of his own. His first weekend there, he’d told me of everything he hoped to accomplish before Monday. When Monday came, he shared with me that nothing was completed, he was trying to build a futon. True to the nature of futons, it was giving him trouble. He explained that his dad was going to come over and help him out.

To which I replied, “Dads are great!” There’s nothing wrong with calling in your dad reinforcement, as a 20 (or 30) something.

I’m short a dad. My husband and I depend heavily on my father-in-law when we need help with a “dad” thing. But he’s a little far away. Most of the married couples I know are able to take turns calling in a dad, and sometimes the dads tag-team the problem. I’ve seen it first hand and it’s pretty great.
It makes me a little jealous. My father-in-law is fantastic. But he’s not my dad. I know that I could ask my uncle or my mom’s husband to help out, but it’s different.

My dad solved problems for me, fixed things for me, asked the right questions and gave sound advice.

As we’re going through the process of selling a home that my father never got to see and building a new home that my father will never see, I sometimes think about features that I believe my dad would have liked. When I work on technical projects in the industry that I do, I know that my dad would understand the applications and think they’re cool, without me having to explain why they’re cool. When I travel for work, I find myself in cities he visited for his job and at events like the ones I remember him going to when I was a kid. Even sometimes when I’m sitting with Holmes or Watson on my lap, I think, “Dad would have loved these cats.”

The longer it’s been since we lost my dad, the fewer rough days there are. But some days, like Father’s Day, will always be rough.

Dad Would Have Turned 54

If life had played out a little differently, and cancer hadn’t stolen my father from us when he was 50, today would have turned 54 today.

On “dad days” like today, I try to remember a story about my dad to share. But it’s hard, the sad memories push themselves to the forefront. When I really try to remember things, I think about bow ties and learning to drive stick shift, which aren’t necessarily stories to tell (or ones I haven’t told already). I remember little thinks like the fact that he liked cinnamon Altoids, didn’t drink coffee and wore suspenders. It’s times like these that make me fear losing memories of my dad.

There is a small comfort though in being reminded of him in little things that he likes, like hot apple cider, straw hats, red pick up trucks or the curved arches in my dining room.

For today, that will be enough.

Father(-in-law)’s Day

Father’s Day is an incredibly tough day when you don’t have your dad anymore.

Instead of appreciating the other fatherly men in my life, I find myself getting sad and returning to the grief . I’ve found myself even becoming envious of others who still have their fathers.

And that’s wrong.

I was blessed to have 22 years with my dad. That may be less time than many have but it is more time than others have had. Instead of wallowing in feeling like a fatherless child this year, I’m acknowledging that I miss my dad but that I had more than two decades of his wisdom, teaching, humor and care. His love stays with me.

Just like I have lots of great women in my life, I have a lot of great men, who happen to be fathers who are there for me when I need “dad” stuff.

In honor of Father’s Day this weekend, I’d like to tell you about my father-in-law in today’s Friday Five:

My Father-In-Law (aka Dad K)

1. The new daughter story.

Brad’s dad is navigating having a “daughter” pretty well. Having raised two boys before I ended up in the picture nearly 8 years ago, girl stuff can be foreign to him sometimes. From noticing a new hairstyle, saying “cool boots!” and complimenting a dress without knowing what the color is called (“coral”), he’s gotten the hang of fashion observation.

He occasionally reads my blog and comments (in person) on my refashion projects and other crafty things. He even helped with a wedding DIY project! I wanted to make special hanger for my dress and the bridesmaids’ dresses. So he drilled holes in the wooden hangers for me and helped secure the wire. (You can see that project on the Bridal Buds blog, where I had a previous life as a wedding blogger)

2. The car stories. 

Dad K stepped in long before the “in-law” status was achieved when I needed someone. One time, my own dad was hospitalized while out of town for a conference. During the time my parents were gone, the brakes on good old Sputter went out. Brad’s dad crawled underneath of my car to check out the severity of the failure and the  feasibility of fixing them. That was also the end of the line for Sputter as a road-worthy car.

He’s also willing to help anyone who needs it car shop. He helped me find a dependable vehicle that saw me through many road trips and long work commutes.

3. The health stories. Continue reading