Saturday, November 21, 2015

Hey, Pops

Tomorrow marks 5 years since you passed away. It's been almost two thousand days since the last time I saw your blue eyes open from that Sacramento hospital bed as Kenny Loggins played through the little speakers next to you and a war raged on inside your brain. What a nice sight that was; to see your eyes again. What a tremendous relief and feeling of hope, as fleeting as it may have been. I'll never forget that moment, that battle, or any of the life that you lived so ferociously.

I want to write the words "It's hard to believe it's been so long...", but such a statement would prove false. The true sentiment is that it's easy to believe it's been that long. In a way it feels like a lifetime ago that you left. Five years is a hell of a long time when you pack in everything that's happened in my life or the lives of my children  - your grandchildren. They were so very lucky to have met you. We all still get emotional thinking about you some times. They have pictures of you on their walls in their bedrooms, and when they play sports or music or sometimes even when we dance together to Stevie Wonder in the living room, we think of you and hope that you are watching down on us all. Every touchdown or three-pointer, every tackle or base hit, every dance recital or cheer or absolute perfect report card...I can't help but think that you are a part of all of them, and with bittersweet pain and love I think of you and wish you were still here to take part in the absolute joy that I have in experiencing my kids. I feel like you were robbed of this gift, this pleasure and pride, but then I think that its all of us who were really shorted. Some of us more than others.

My little nephews, the 3 Egan boys you never got to meet...they would make you laugh so hard I can picture your shoulders bouncing up and down and your eyes getting wide open, thinking about how much payback in personality little Hudson is to your youngest son. He's the spitting image of that wild-haired and strong-willed Paddy. And what an exciting mystery lies ahead for his twin brothers with the havoc and handsome mayhem they have the potential to stir up in that beautiful family's house...and in this world around us. And then there's the darling Dearing girls...without a doubt the wildest and most passionate of us all. There will never be a more indomitable force from your progeny than that little Ashleigh. And I'm sure once she learns how to fight off her big sister, Abbi, too, will join the ranks of "girls that dominate" (as I'm sure you would christen them). True chips off the "Mozambique" block, to say the least.

The rest of us, though, we just miss you. I know for me I miss your toughness the most. There are days I have a hard time getting out of bed and dragging my ass into an office that has been pretty empty without you all this time. I don't have you to answer to when I'm late, and that's really the hardest thing to understand, I think. Maybe it's why I haven't been able to take the big picture of you down off the mantle...a "temporary" installment after your funeral that never really fit the space. At least when I show up and when I leave every day I can feel your eyes looking down and see that face and know that you could always see all the way inside me and you would never, EVER settle for any bullshit I would tell you or try to tell myself.

There just isn't another one of you out there, Dad, and the world is a little bit worse for the lack of you in it. I'm doing my best to live up to what you represented to me, and to so many others, but it's not an easy task, and I miss you tremendously. Sometimes I simply don't know how you did it. I've taken a challenging path since you left, and some of the time I just don't know how it's all going to play out. But I have your guidance to pull from every day, and believe me, I don't make jokes anymore about the motivational posters you kept on the wall reminding you that "Persistence prevails when all else fails." I will never forget the words "intestinal fortitude" or what they meant to you.

This Thanksgiving, when we are all playing basketball in your memory, in a game you started what must have been 40 years ago....you will be there with us. Just like you are every day. In spirit. In memory.

I love you, Pops.

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