Today is the anniversary of my father’s death. He died ten years ago…today. As crazy as my life has been the lately, what with the constant working, the studying, my nieces and nephews, the volunteering, Trump–I’m just going to stop the list there. It goes on for a bit, and my binge-reading every tiny bit of news when I should be doing homework isn’t really helping the craziness of it all. This world has gotten weird.
It hit me hard tonight just what today means. It’s so easy to get swept up into always being busy. There’s something enticing about avoiding those quiet moments naturally prevalent with free time. I guess it’s not surprising I avoid being alone so much. Such avoidance helps me forget about who I’ve lost. Well, maybe not forget about him, but at least not dwell on his memory. In many ways, that’s a shame. My Dad was a fantastic person.
He was also an amazing father. Seven kids. That’s how many kids he had, and education was so important to him that we all have Bachelor’s degrees. There’s even a few grad degrees thrown in there for some variety. He had his oddly strict moments. You could tell he was terrified that we’d start dating, so most of us postponed doing so until the latter years of high school or even until college. He also never stopped working. When he’d come home, my mother always had a list, and he just kept moving to complete it. He renovated rooms, kept the yard and garden immaculate, went on long walks daily (we children had a standing invitation to join him), did laundry, washed dishes, and simply kept the house functioning. Every day was better when he was in it.
Not only was my father a worker bee, but he was smart. He worked for the Environmental Protection Agency as a soil scientist for a good twenty years. Botany was his true passion. I grew up in Oklahoma, and he taught me the names of every freaking flower, tree, and shrub found in the whole bloody state. I could probably still identify most of them to this day, and I moved out of the south in 2006. He loved this planet, and he struggled to clean up whatever humans had done to it. Trying his hand at inventing, he figured out ways to transport equipment into hard-to-reach areas with minimal damage to the environment. He did this even after his diagnosis of stage 4 colon cancer.
I’m not sure if this article is a tribute to my father, although I’ll keep it a short one if it is. I think it’s more that I miss him. While I’m glad to have moved out of Oklahoma, by doing so I moved away from everyone else who knew my Dad. My friends and neighbors now only know of my father by what I’ve told them. They probably think that I simply remember him that way because he was my father. Humans tend to remember the dead much more fondly than they deserve. However, anyone in Oklahoma who knew my father could tell you that he was the exception to that rule. He really was an incredible man: loving, giving, patient with everyone except assholes (which is why he struggled working for the federal government on occasion), and dependable to a fault. The world doesn’t make many people like him.
I wish so much that he wasn’t gone.