Hi, I'm Bill's Daughter....
"....and how can you mend a broken heart?
How can you stop the rain from falling down?
How can you stop the sun from shining?
What makes the world go round?"
I've been away for a while.
Away from my immediate family, my beloved friends, my writing and my office. My parents live in Las Vegas and my dad was diagnosed with lung cancer a couple years ago. As a lot of you know, I've spend the last 2 years visiting them for a week or two at a time - as often as I could. I am so very grateful for a life that affords that great privilege. My family's mac-n-cheese support, the patience & unwavering loyalty of my friends and clients....you all know there is no way I could sail this sea alone.
And it was a sea.
Feelings would ease in and lap gently on the fresh undisturbed edges of my mind. Reminding me through my meditation practice that renewal and preparation is a good thing. Allowing my brain and my heart to rest only helped me come back for more. Our spiritual practices do not hide us or save us or allow us to check-out. They strengthen us and fill us with willing hearts.
How do you say good-bye to such a gentle soul?
I'm not the first girl to lose her dad. I'm not the first woman to blast right into the sandwich generation. I'm certainly not the first daughter to meet her mother as a friend and understand the heartache she feels to lose a love of 54 years. I wasn't noble. I just showed up.
My dad taught me to ski.
We had a cabin in Leadville, CO. Early Goodwill decor. Mice found protection from the bitter cold in the couch cushions. The cabin floated on anti-freeze in the winter and 'NOBODY BETTER FLUSH THOSE DAMN TOILETS UNTIL THE HEAT KICKS IN.' It was gloriously dirty and drafty and we loved it.
My dad was a firm believer in getting your money's worth. Do you know to properly use your lift ticket it involves the whole 'first on - last off' ski lift theory? Yep. That's us. Last run of the day is not always a lot of fun. Sun going down, runs get icy, lonely chairs swing with no dance partners...but luckily my dad knew a shortcut down the mountain. Oh yay for dads! Memorable short cut down a surprise black diamond ice crusted CLIFF and of course I snotted and slid and cussed (on the inside) all the way down. And you know what my dad did? He waited at the bottom and cheered my whiny little butt all the way down. We stood together at the bottom and he looked back up the mountain and said, "Look what you just did. I knew you could." We laughed about that day until he died.
My dad taught me how to ride a bike.
At the top of a hill. Awesome, dad. One minute he's jogging along beside the handlebars of my shiny new ride...the next moment all I hear is his distant call, "Hold onnnnnnn, Josieeee" Uh, sure thing, pops. I got this. I saw traffic ahead and a fence to my right so I did what any gifted & talented kindergarten kid does - I took the fence. Scar on my leg to prove it which explains why my modeling days and contract with Cosmo were not meant to be. My mom was a little perturbed at him and I got lots of love and attention. Daughter win.
My dad loved to explore.
He loved to explore so much that we got lost in the Red Light district in Amsterdam going the wrong way on a one way street one time. Never a dull moment. He did love to travel. He was a career officer in the military and served in Vietnam. We lived all over when I was growing up. We camped and hiked and skied on Fodor's $5 a day. We only stopped at diners if the parking lot was full of 18 wheelers. "Truckers know where the best food is." We TOOK OUR OWN lunch skiing so we could save time and eat on the chair lift. We didn't take up unnecessary room camping with sissy pillows. Roll up your clothes. Honestly, try it tonight. It feels just the same as a pillow. only different.
But seriously folks....
I learned so much from my dad.
Before I could own a car, I had to take auto shop in high school. Everyone should be able to gap a plug, change the oil and rotate tires. Right. Because that's my hobby now on Saturdays, dad.
I know how to pay bills first and play later. I know how to be honest and return lost wallets full of money. I know how to help out the people I love and the ones I don't.
I know how to be strong and make amends.
I know I'm named after my dad and it builds character to have a boy's name with the initials BJ in high school because 'you know who your REAL friends are'.
I know how to be nice to my kids' friends and run off the dead weight. Parents are such a good judge of character. Trust your instincts.
I know that ketchup is not allowed on steak.
I know that Marty Robbins sings pretty songs, El Paso is a fun place and hot sauce should be...well, hot.
I know that driving with the air conditioner on and the windows down is not a good idea. Because it wastes moneyyyyyyy, that's why.
I know how to find piñon nuts in a tree. I know what squirrel tastes like.
I know that Santa is real.
I know what a first down is thanks to many armchair afternoons spent next to my dad packed tight like a baby sardine in his recliner. I also know who the dumb bastards are.
I know you can't 'soar with the eagles if you're going to hoot with the owls'.
I know they won't buy the cow if the milk is free. I know. I know. I know. All my friends in high school know that, too. Since it was my dad's way of saying good bye on Friday nights when I had a Blazer full of girlfriends heading downtown to make the drag. Hearing my mother's voice fading in the summer nights...." For crying out loud, Bill, they aren't livestock..."
I know my dad doesn't enjoy digging holes or getting dirty but he made a flower bed for me at a house where my kids grew up.
I know he doesn't like scalloped potatoes but he ate them every year at my house for Christmas and told me they were 'super'. (I only learned this a couple years ago...he told me with a very shy and apologetic voice..."Jos, I'm sorry, but I really don't like scalloped potatoes) whaaaaat the what? Reeeealllyyy?
I know how to fight to live. I know how to be nice to caregivers and thank the nurses. One of the last things my dad said to anyone was when he asked his nurse if there was anything he could do to make her job easier. Yes, she cried.
I know pocket aces are pretty wonderful. I know you tip your dealer.
I know how to die with dignity. And grace. And a grateful, brave heart.
Farewell is not good bye, dad. Please save me a seat.
I know I'll find you sitting next to a bottomless pot of Starbucks and an unlimited supply of Chapstick with a royal flush in your hand.
I thank God every day for giving me a dad like you.