Everyone remembers our Daddy’s laugh and his smile. Laughter was his signature. With his mouth wide open and his head held back, the silence was broken with an infectious laugh that was a gift to hear every single time.
But I remember the man who cried and the tears that fell. I remember the man who was not afraid to show his emotions. Tears do not weaken the man. They make him compassionate and kind. And not all of his tears were sad. He cried for pride, he cried for joy, and he cried when the words …would not come.
When I was a little girl, I had a bicycle accident. It was bad enough for a trip to the emergency room. Dad sat beside me as I was lying on the bed. And with every tear that fell and every agonizing wince of pain, his hand grew tighter in mine and his tears fell. Then, he said the words I will never forget and now as a parent myself, the words mean more to me than ever….
He said…I would give anything to change places with you.
My sisters have similar stories. Those moments when our Daddy sat beside us through our pain, through our desperation, through our broken hearts and broken bones and broken lives. He never failed us and every time we hurt, his pain was greater. Every time we had sorrow, he wept more.
And until the very end, during his last moments on this earth, he gave us everything we ever needed - His love. His pale blue eyes opened only for a moment and his smile covered his face with peace. He gave the very last kiss to his wife of nearly 60 years.
And to me, he gave the gift of tears. Small, perfect beautiful tears that rested in the corner of his eyes. His wordless goodbye. They were mine too.
I love you, Daddy. I will miss you forever.
(Originally written September 2012)