My dad made me feel like a million dollars. When I was a girl, he convinced me that my presence in his life–and by extension in the world–was essential. If I ceased to exist, I came to assume, the world would stop spinning.
At least that’s how Dad made me feel.
Today is Father’s Day–the second one since my father passed away. The pain and loss hasn’t gotten any easier. I miss him more now than ever. But now the memories of him bring up fewer painful barbs and more mirthful chuckles. Everyday objects, words that blurt out of my mouth, snippets of songs, and adventurous activities conjure his larger than life presence.
Here are a few of those things that remind me of my dad:
Cherry Chapstick: At 6’6″ tall, Dad didn’t worry about looking like a sissy. My high school boyfriends referred to him as Conan the Barbarian. But the man loved him some chapstick–the Suzy Chaffee kind–and only cherry flavor would do. Never mind that Cherry Chapstick will leave a pinkish residue on your lips, and perhaps the skin around your lips if you aren’t careful. Dad didn’t care. To this day I have at least ten tubes of Cherry Chapstick lying around the house.
Skiing: Dad taught me to ski. His motto was, “if it’s green golf it. If it’s white ski it. We’re not here for a long time, we’re here for a good time.” Every time I ski, and that’s pretty much every day in the winter, I chant that mantra in my head. Every great turn reminds me of him.
Fishing: Dad was a third generation Washingtonian. He loved to fish. He also taught me to love it. I must have been about eight years old when we went out in the Sound to fish for salmon. He would wait until he had a fish on the line and say, “Kimmy Kim! I don’t seem to be having any luck. Let’s trade poles and see if have any better luck than this one.” Sure enough, I’d grab that pole and feel that fish on the line. He convinced me that I had the golden touch. I remember coming back that day with a bunch of fish that “I’d caught” with dad smiling broadly.
Hey Ho: I’m not sure where he got it, but dad used to always chant this little cheer. I think it came from back when my brother played high school basketball. For years dad would just blurt it out at the most random times, “Hey hey! Ho ho! Let’s get that ball and really go!” Funny thing is that the other day I was getting something out of the fridge and found myself chanting the same little cheer. It made me smile.
I heard once that we don’t really die until the last person who remembers us dies too. If that’s true, my dad is still alive and kicking because even Cherry Chapstick is keeping his memory alive.