4 years ago this morning, Dad was gone. I'm not embarrassed to tell you that most of what I felt that morning was relief. I was relieved that he was no longer in pain, that he was released from that ravaged body. Cancer took so much out of that big ol' man...but it didn't take his spirit. 4 years later, I can honestly tell you that when I think of Dad now, mostly it's happy. I smile when I remember his silliness, or when I think about how he'd react to something the kids have done. Sure, I still get sad, but how can I be sad that he's whole and happy again, in a place so much better than this one?
So, this morning I won't walk through the events of that night and my last moments with Dad. I won't dwell on his illness, or that last 9 months. Today I'm going to remember what a mess Dad was, and how much James and I loved hanging out with him. And I'll be honest and tell you that with the events this week, Dad would probably drive us nuts with his recaps of all of the news reports. But he'd be so proud of James and he'd want to know all about West...and I bet he would have been on the phone with Don several times yesterday telling him about James' trip, whether Dad knew details or not. He just loved to talk. And exaggerate.
And he loved to cook...and he was the best at frying. None of us have the knack, fortunately or unfortunately. I was looking for a certain picture of us from my wedding day, where we're getting ready to walk out the door and down the aisle and Dad was standing on my dress, but I can't find it (remember, I'm "organizing" a lifetime's worth of pictures, which means they're all in boxes in various locations). Instead I came across this one, and it made me smile. Dad was in his element here, in their kitchen, dishes everywhere, frying onion rings. If you've never had one of his burgers with a side of his onion rings, you've missed out, friends.