Today is October 23. I'm usually pretty cognizant of the date toward the end of this month, not because of the ghoulish happenings of Halloween approaching (with costume deadlines and the such), but for other reasons. It was 11 years ago today that my dad was killed in a work-related accident. It still doesn't seem possible to be that long ago. Sometimes it feels like yesterday. I still think of him every day.
As each year passes, I get more and more saddened by the things he's missed. The things that as a little girl, I imagined him being there for. My graduating from college, my wedding, the births of my children. Those who know me know I'm not a particularly religious person (I do like to think that I am at least a spiritual person, though), and at 30, I still haven't decided what I truly believe, other than I should try to be the best person I can be and that surely there is something out there beyond us. It would be comforting to think that my dad could still see me and know that I'm happy, healthy, and mostly whole in his absence.
On the other hand, while he's not here, I am proud that I've done some of the things he had hoped for me. I finished college, for one. Apparently, I'm not done with school yet, either. I found a kind, handsome, decent, intelligent, hardworking man who treats me as an equal (heck, he really puts me on a pedestal, to be true) and married him and was welcomed into his family. I became a mother. My father has grandchildren who know about who he was, even though they never got to meet him. I have sons, and as I watch them grow, I know that someday they may be fathers too. And maybe they'll have daughters. And maybe they'll go hiking together and have late night work-outs and play silly computer games like Civilization where they beat up on the Zulus.
My father lives on in me and in the things I do with my children and in the stories I tell about him. He lives on in my and my children's physical being, a little bit of his genetic character passed on. While much of me physically is reminiscent of my mother and her side of the family (love those strong Davis genes!), I still see bits of him in me. And that is comforting, too. So while I miss him and selfishly feel sad for the things he's not here for, I will keep on being positive about the time we did have together and make sure to spend that quality of time with the ones I still have here because that would honor his memory better than anything else.
And so to honor him today, I'll share something about him that I've always admired. The man could fix just about anything. At least I thought so. As I was passing through the reference section at the library the other day, I thought of him. He always had the Chilton's auto manuals floating around the house for whatever vehicles we happened to own. Well, and my grandma's for that matter, as he used to work on her car quite a bit. If there was a problem with the cars, my father never took it to a mechanic. He fixed it himself. He would jack up the car, get on his already greasy work duds and climb under for a look. He would completely disassemble things and put them back together. And they worked. He built picnic tables and saw horses, and one summer we erected a privacy fence. My dad was a real do-it-yourself kind of guy, and I really admired that about him.
I like to think that it's a trait that he's instilled in me. I'm the one who seems to initiate the home improvement around here. The neighbors find it amusing. One of the lady neighbors told me one day, "Really. You've got to stop it. You're making the rest of us look bad." Not long ago another neighbor quipped, "So I'm betting you'll be out here working, squat and have a baby, and get on with whatever it is you're doing, eh?" I'm the only girl on the block who gets out in the front yard with the shovel, wheelbarrow, level, and tools and says, "gee...think I'll do a retaining wall." I'd do more if I were allowed to use power tools (and if there were freaking time), but I kinda got banned from those after a little hedgetrimmer accident. Did you know those will cut through extension cords? Oh, and your finger if you're busy chatting with your spouse while using them? Want in on a secret? I still have a few power tools...and I plan to use them. Though I'll likely leave the auto repair to the experts at the dealer.
Love you daddy...miss you bunches.