I miss you, Dad. Today is Father’s Day, and if you were here, we would probably be having a barbeque at the house; you would cook burgers, and Mom would make her “salad,” which consisted of peas, green peppers, chunks of cheese, and chopped cucumbers in Miracle Whip (I may have to make it today, just because). You would be drinking Pabst Blue Ribbon, or Milwaukee’s Best (because “beer is beer,” which I believe is one of your armchair quotes, along with “the slam dunk should be outlawed; it’s not basketball!”), and bugging me about eating too many potato chips, even though you never gained a bit of weight in your entire life, except for a little beer belly. Your line (and it used to bug Mom, too, since we were both career dieters) was “Hell, all you have to do is eat less!” Fabulously uninformed advice, since you never had to go on one diet; still, I loved you for it, even if I just maybe didn’t know it at the time.
Later today, we would hang out in the back yard, or watch baseball on TV. If there wasn’t a game on, we would watch an old movie, and you and Mom would debate who was in the movie: “Is that Danny Kaye?” “Nooo, Red Skeleton.” “Remember his show that used to be on Tuesday nights? It was so funny!” “Who’s the actress? Virginia Mayo?” “I think it is!” (I remember when I was a kid, waking up on the weekends to the sounds of the radio coming from the kitchen, and you and Mom doing the same thing there: “Who is that? Perry Como?” “I think it’s Frank Sinatra in his younger days.” “Remember when we went dancing that night and they played this song?” )
I know now that part of the reason that I was able to get through the last ten years was because of you, Dad. You taught me so many things – how to spell and read and ride a bike, how to play basketball, baseball, blackjack and poker; and one of the things that I know that you and Mom both taught me how to do, just by the way that you both lived, was to keep going. I’ve kept going, through all of the pain and the loss of everyone who would have been here at the barbeque today, and I just want to say thank you for everything. You were so much better at the dad thing than you ever knew, and if I made wishes, I would wish for the chance to tell you in person. Since I’m not able to do that, this will have to do – I wouldn’t have wanted any other dad but you, Dad.