Many years ago, mere days after my son’s birth, my dad passed away. It was a weird time, feeling great joy about my newborn son but then having my father die. I am forever grateful that my dad could hold his grandson before he went.
My dad was an interesting guy, super smart, and loved reading science fiction, but he seemed awkward around people. However, he made an impression on my mom’s parents, and you could tell they still loved him. They would mention how funny he was, which always surprised me because he rarely laughed or joked when I was around.
When we still lived with him, my brother and I would go to Taco Bell and ask if he wanted anything. He would say, “No.” but as soon as we returned, he started looking in the bag to see if we had brought something back for him. It happened multiple times.
One of the weirdest things was when I started working and could afford it, I would go to the grocery store on his birthday and pick up a chocolate cake. He liked chocolate and steered clear of other flavors, so I thought it was a safe bet.
But after we would sing him Happy Birthday, I noticed he would never eat any cake. I knew I had seen him eat cake before, and it was his favorite flavor, so I couldn’t figure it out.
A year is a long time, and I would forget how he didn’t eat cake the previous year. If it crossed my mind, I assumed it was a fluke.
However, many years later, I realized he had never eaten the cake I bought him, and I confronted him, “I know you like chocolate cake; what’s the deal?”
He told me he didn’t like German Chocolate cake because of the coconut.
Why he didn’t tell me sooner, I don’t know. I could never tell if he was trying to spare my feelings by not telling me in the first place or if he felt like I was picking on him and was allowing me to run a long prank.
He was a little cold and distant while alive, and I always felt like he was a little disappointed in me. He had a lifelong passion for scuba diving and was proud when I was certified at twelve. Other than that, and at my graduation, I didn’t know how he felt about me. But he was there for me in his way, so I appreciate everything he did for me.
After he passed away, I saw a photo of him with me as a baby and realized how much of a clone I am of him. It was like looking in a mirror. Beyond looks, I inherited his love of science fiction, calm demeanor, and encyclopedia brain. They are a part of me, along with his ability to be cold and quiet. Only then did I realize how much I wished he was around to ask him all about all the things we shared, but by then, it was too late.
Last year, when I was bumbling around Europe, I wound up in Greece and scheduled a scuba dive on his birthday without realizing it. During the dive, I realized what day it was and thought about how he would have loved it there. He had told me once that he loved diving because of how peaceful it was under the water. You could float along in silence.
Happy Birthday, Dad. I miss you.