Just One More Hug

Wednesday, November 13, 2013.

Screenshot from a public domain film The Littl...

Screenshot from a public domain film The Little Princess (1939) starring Shirley Temple and Richard Greene (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Today would have been my dad’s 90th birthday, he died eleven years ago. I guarantee you it will not be an easy day or night for any of us. I’m trying to use this day to remind me of what a wonderful father he was, how he loved birthdays and presents and food and more food and little presents that cost less than a few dollars which we called “shmonsas.”

I miss him, those feelings stab at my heart and reopen wounds I thought had healed. Apparently, there is no complete healing from death and pain.  Since we have talked about my dad lately I feel the pain, as if it was fresh, wounds ripped open, knives sharpened and stabbing pain. Tears are spilling down my eyes, in the catch of my voice.

Of all times, the day before his birthday I found myself making his favorite, home-made pea soup.  I hadn’t even realized that his birthday was coming up because I was focusing only on 11/11 my favorite day and time. That meant today was 11/12 and I realized my husband and I are having dinner with my mom on Wednesday, not even conscious that Wednesday, 11/13 was my dad’s birthday. The world works in strange ways, I still believe there is a reason for everything.

Every Saturday morning when I was a child, my dad and I would watch Shirley Temple movies together, just the two of us. He would take his finger and wipe his eyes quickly and I once asked him if he was crying. He told me he had allergies but soon enough I learned the truth. Every week, another Shirley Temple movie, The Little Princess, Curly Top etc. was on. Saturday mornings were very special for me and my dad.

When I was older we would get bagels which was not technically stealing since the store was not open and once he and I got off the tram in Austria to buy bratwurst thick with golden brown mustard and rolls and left my mother and sister on the tram-car (not realizing they had no idea where they were and that we were gone.) As sorry as we were, he and I still held unto our sides remembering my mother’s fuming face, nostrils flaring. Luckily, he was the one who got in trouble, not me.

We would all go to Pathmark grocery shopping while I still lived at home and we would put ridiculous sized items in the cart while the other person wasn’t looking, 5 gallons of pickles, 10 gallons of ketchup, we thought we were hilarious. Sometimes someone had opened up a bag of cookies (No, it was not us) but we would help ourselves to samples. Once when my mother was away ( working) we went to a Spanish restaurant and got a little tipsy on Sangria, toasting wall paper hangers that did not show up. My kids will be shocked to hear this!  Another time, I was driving home from my married life in Boston, pregnant with my first child and he had come down as a surprise to direct traffic wearing an orange helmet with a bright orange sign with my name and arrows so that I wouldn’t get lost. If I had one sentence to describe him, it would be that one. When there were mice crawling over my bed and feet in my apartment he would pick me up and bring me “home.” Nothing was too much.

My mom, my husband and I will eat dinner at a restaurant and try to celebrate his life instead of mourning it.  I thought I might want to put a candle on my dessert for him but I can’t kid myself, I’d burst into tears before it even came. I think I’ll just say my own few words, privately. He was a wonderful father to both my sister and me: nurturing, warm, supportive. I still miss his warm hugs the most, a true loss. Prone to educational talks that were a bit too lengthy what would I do now to hear one again. I could count on to him to at least understand my side even if we didn’t agree, it’s been so long, eleven years, that I can’t even remember what that feels like anymore. We were so similar, he and I, my mother and my sister, exactly alike.

He has sent me messages from the other side except for a brief interruption which was partially my fault but now those messages will be back. I am sure of it. In fact, I just found an angel that I completely forgot about and now she is hanging happily from my crisp, new bulletin board. There are no more words, except to say, Daddy, I love you, I miss you, I’ll always miss the dad that you were to me. I miss your bear hugs where I knew I felt so loved and safe. I miss you being in my corner supporting me. I will never stop missing that. Happy Birthday, Daddy. Love, from “The Little One.(8)”

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