Before every Holiday, you can find me in the greeting card aisle searching for the perfect card for loved ones. Since this Sunday is Father's Day, I'll be picking out a perfect card for my Dad, even though he's been gone for thirteen years. I wrote the following words to be read at his funeral, and they may make you laugh, they may make you cry, but what I really hope they do is move just one person to call their Dad. Just one person to go see Pops. Just one person to give their Dad a hug that's a little tighter and longer than usual, and not just this Sunday.
Some of my earliest memories of my Dad are camping at Indian Acres and catching, "pop ups". I think I was around four or five, and we would stand in the gravel roadway and play catch. I would yell, "Throw it higher!", and he would roll me another gravelly, bouncy grounder. As most impatient, spoiled five year olds would do, I would spin around and yell, "C'mon Dad, I want a high one!". Out of his hands would come this rainbow arching, high toss. My little body trying to position itself underneath for the catch, properly done of course, by catching the ball in my gloves and quickly placing my free hand over the ball so it would not fall out. I caught all of the throws, and stopped all the grounders. At least that's what I remember. I had a little glove, barely bigger than the softball we played with. My name, written largely in black magic marker on the inside, where my five year old sweat would slowly wear the letters away. He had the big first baseman's mitt, that only the big men wore. He wore it well. He caught all of my erratic throws back to him. Scooped em, squeezed em, snagged em all. At least that's what I remember. To this day I do not feel comfortable wearing his first baseman's mitt, it's still too big.
He taught me how to cut the grass, drive a nail, hang curtains, and change the oil in the car. He would always say, "Did you get Mom a card?". I could forget the present, but he knew to never forget the card.
After I was caught selling candy in high school, which I guess at the time was a serious offense, the teacher called my Mom. Mom was furious, although I think it had more to do with the fact that my grades were not up to par, than because I got busted for selling BlowPops. After Mom was done yelling at me in the kitchen, I went down to the garage, and my Dad said, "So... did you make any money?".
His last few months, one of his only joys was Orange Hi-C. I think I got him hooked on it. It was one of the only things he could taste. If the jug of Orange Hi-C was less than half full, he would say, "Don't drink any more Hi-C, that's all I have left!". "I know, Dad." was usually my response. A few days before he died he said, "You can finish the Hi-C". I looked in the fridge, and there was only a little bit left. No way was I going to drink the last of it. Two short days later, while I was cleaning up his room, I raised up the last glass of Orange Hi-C and finished it off.
Thanks for the high ones, Dad.