It is 2:32 am and I can not sleep. My father is dead.
His death, which occurred sometime last Sunday morning in his sleep, has left me disorientated, distracted, angry, sad, and grateful.
My dad and I had a complicated relationship. Therapists have labeled it troubling, and in my younger years, extremely dysfunctional.
My dad taught me how to grow marijuana in our suburban garage when I was a young child. He would take hard drugs and call me a fat bitch or a whore. One time he threatened to kill me.
Dad also danced with me in our living room, dressed up with me in funny outfits, shared his love of art and music, and scouted out our nature walks. He drove with me to Palm Springs just after I graduated from college, and waited in the car while I marched inside to fight for my first on-air reporting job. When I got the gig, he printed out every news story I covered from the KMIR-TV website and saved them in a 3-ring binder.
After my first son was born, Dad came to my apartment three times a week to hold my baby so I could nap. He took my side when anyone hurt my feelings, and made time for me even if it was last minute in the early morning hours.
I spoke to my dad several times a week by phone, saw him each Wednesday afternoon when he would come with me to pick up my boys from school. He irritated Josh with questions about his day and quizzed Alex on his spelling words. Our dog, Darby, loved to jump on my dad’s lap the moment he sat down in our apartment.
We gossiped. He constantly clipped newspaper articles for me. Dad spilled his ever-present coffee on my countertops and in my car. He dressed in layers of clothing like a homeless hippie Santa Claus.
My dad made inappropriate jokes and sported questionable hairstyles. In his mid-sixties, Dad wore corn rows for several months. He could name the dates and details of every major historical event. He thrived on watching Jerry Springer.
My dad loved animals, his green mini-Cooper, his girlfriend Linda, and most of all, his children.
I miss him dearly.
I’m not ready to say goodbye to my dad, so I won’t.
I will say, I love you. I miss you. I will carry you in my memories, my stories, and my heart. You made my life better. Thank you for being my father.