My father is a great man. A real gentleman. He was raised in Illinois and in his growing up years he was exposed to farming (cousins Tommy and Margaret), car mechanics (his father), kindness (his mother), music (his father again and friend Thelma). When he went to college, though, he took up Electrical Engineering. He was a true "Fighting Illini."
Over the years, he worked at various defense contractor positions. He could never talk about his work at home because his work was top secret, so I thought he was a train engineer for the longest time. Kids. They will always sharpen your sense of humor, won't they?
Dad helped me with my Math homework. Dad studied my report cards and told me he was proud of me. Dad always listened to me play the piano and would wipe tears at my recitals.
Some of you know that in the last year, my siblings and I helped Dad decide to move to an assisted living facility in Florida. He is doing well, has made some friends, and has gained some weight. He spends a lot of great time with my brother and his family. And he has been diagnosed with dementia and short term memory loss.
In her book, "Finding Water: the Art of Perseverance," Julia Cameron talks about the importance of having encouraging and optimistic people in our lives. She calls them "believing mirrors" who "reflect back to you your competency and potential."
My father has always been one of my believing mirrors. He would tell me how proud he is of me, and celebrate my successes and accomplishments with an epic poem like account of my previous successes. He believed in me without hesitation and only asked which new mountain I was planning to tackle next.
And that is a painful loss.
So, Happy Father's Day, Dad. I love hearing how happy you are when I call and the cheerfulness you have about your life. Never do I hear a complaint or a negative word. Your caregivers love you to pieces and can't say enough positive about you. You are a great man. A real gentleman. You were my #1 believing mirror. And I miss you.