It’s Father’s Day and it’s been a while since I’ve really celebrated it because my Pop passed away several years ago. An earlier post I did, will tell you about my dad. My first true hero. To say I loved him with all my heart puts it mildly. He meant the world to me. And he still does. I suppose in a way I try to ignore Father’s Day, so I don’t have to miss him even more than I already do. His funny little giggle, and crusty voice, his clear blue eyes and big belly – his everything.
But I don’t want to get all sad and lonely in this post. I want to tell you about him. Just a little. It’s just a small little story but one that I love.
Long after I’d grown up and moved out to California, with my own place and my own life – I used to talk to him on the phone. Probably once a month or so. Not about anything in particular. We just talked about whatever was going on or on our minds. We ‘got’ each other very well, and there always was a real easiness between us. So, this one night we were gabbing on the phone and he hit all the usual dad bases, who was I dating? were they good to me? how was the job? what kind of car was I driving? when was I leaving the land of terrible earthquakes? stuff like that.
Then the topic rolled around to him. “So, what’s new with you?” I asked. A pause. Eh? Dad never paused when you asked him something. “What?”
“Aw…never mind,” he said. I could swear I almost heard him blushing.
Too curious to let it pass, I said, “What? What is it?”
“Oh, you’ll just make fun of me,” he stalled.
“I will not,” I insisted. “What is it?” I was starting to get a little worried – no one was more of an open book than my Pop and he was a straight from the hip kind of guy, so I knew something was up. “Oh for cripes sake, would you just tell me?”
“Okay,” he said, none too pleased. “Well, I started taking night classes at the local high school.” Pop had never finished high school, something he always regretted.
“Well, that’s great, Dad. What are you taking? Photography? Writing?”
“No, I’m getting my diploma.”
“In what?” I asked, apparently to dense to get what he meant.
“My high school diploma. I went back to school and got my diploma,” he said as though relieved to confess his deep dark secret.
I was so happy for him. I knew what it meant to him and I could tell he was happy about it too. “That’s great! That’s really great, Pop. When are you going to finish?”
He laughed. “I already did. Mickey (my little sister) and I are having a joint graduation party next week.”
Now, this may seem a bit small to some of you – and I’ll admit that in the greater scheme it probably is. But I swelled with pride when he told me. That at age 60, he would go back to school and right something he thought he’d done wrong 40 years before, really knocked me out. He didn’t do it for any reason, or anyone, just himself. Just because it was important to him – a goal he’d never reached but wanted to. And then to have his graduation party with the youngest of his five children was like the cherry on the ice cream sundae.
And that was my dad. The guy who just followed his heart and never stopped trying to grow or learn throughout his life. I don’t think I was ever prouder of him than I was in that moment.
So, Pop…wherever you are, whether up in Heaven looking down on me, or reincarnated as an American Bald Eagle soaring through the sky – you still are and always will my hero. Happy Father’s Day, Pop.