I work very hard and am attending college to obtain my degree in the Human Service field. Writing makes me feel alive and gives me the opportunity to touch those whom I would not be able to otherwise. Last but not least, I have been blessed with two amazing daughters who love me completely and support my dreams. Feel free to contact me with questions, concerns or feedback.
One week will bring about the 3 year anniversary of my Dad's passing. To honor him, I have chosen to tell his story. The one he shared with many.
My Dad was outspoken, in your face and one of the funniest, wittiest individuals I've ever known. I believe he could have beat Ken Jennings on Jeopardy many times over. He was my best friend and had my back. He was my "person", my confidante and the first person I called for good times and bad. He never judged, was never shocked nor did he ever tell me I was wrong. No matter what, he always said, "Laurie, as long as you're happy, go for it! I support you 100% and will always have your back." And that he did.
Why was my Dad the type of guy who loved unconditionally, let me tell you. The words I type are not easy. They are not pleasant, nor will they shine a light. That comes in the end.
My dad was raised in a home with an abusive, womanizing, alcoholic father. His mother, my amazing, God fearing Grandmother, was a target of his wrath. My dad stated his father would lock him and his siblings in a bedroom while he commited his abuse against my Grandmother. I cannot remember the exact year, but after my parents met, my Dad's father took his life in the family garage. In talking with my Dad about this as an adult, he told me that was the best day of his life.
As a father, my Dad worked very hard. The two of us went fishing, it is my favorite memory of him. Yet, because of his upbringing, he was very unaffectionate with us girls. Inside the home, he was very quiet. I don't recall a whole lot of hugs, kisses or encouragement. I believe that because of his upbringing, he thought a hands off approach was the best way. I don't really remember my Dad and I having a whole lot of heart to heart conversations. In fact, as a 12 year old girl, I tried to discuss the birds and the bees and he sent me to talk to my mother.
My Dad had always been a drinker. It escalated when we were very young. There was a point in time when my mother contemplated divorce after the birth of my youngest sister. Yet, with the encouragement of their Catholic parents, they stayed together. That is, until I turned 13.
After my parent's divorce, my dad began to see us less and less and drink more and more. He eventually drank to the point where he was almost completely non-existent. I was in the Army and received continual calls from my siblings. "Dad needs help, give him a call", they pleaded. I had attended Al-Anon and was strong enough to hit the situation head on. I arrived home with my family, found my Dad, a man of 6'2", with a current weight of 130lbs. I was able to complete an intervention, get him into DePaul, and had to return home to the Army base we resided.
Because of his illness, he retired early from the Fire Department. He was a mere 55 years old and was suffering from early Dementia and Brain Damage, which occurs when you drink and avoid eating. You deplete your brain of the much needed Vitamin B is requires. He eventually was placed into a Nursing Home on 20th and Kilbourne Ave. We would get calls that he was leaving the Home, searching through garbage cans, etc, for half-empty beer bottles. He would panhandle on the street corner for cigarettes.
Eventually, he was moved to a locked facility on Brown Deer Road. In order to control his behaviors, the nursing home began to overmedicate him to the point of comatose. We intervened, got him into the hospital and he detoxed. After he was free and clear of all meds, he eventually moved into the nursing home in West Allis. He did so well that I encouraged my sister to allow him an efficiency apartment which he lived in until his move to California.
When my Dad was well, he was on his game. He was witty, fun and in your face. He talked to everyone. He wore his Firefighter Badge with pride. You should have seen his face when a fire truck or ambulance drove past. He would regale us with stories of days gone by and couldn't wait to see his old friends. Because he was blessed with an amazing retirement, he would take our entire immediate family to the Wisconsin Dells every year. We would rent out the log cabins, usually adjacent to the golf course. He invested his time in us, his grandchildren and meeting people along the way. During our trips or outings together, he would talk to everyone, and everyone embraced him. At 6'2", 240lbs, he was bald and void of teeth, which he had lost during his drinking years. Initially, people would stare, wonder, who is this guy, but his approach was so genuine, so sincere, that they would embrace him.
My Dad was not ashamed of his past, his life choices. In fact, when he was sober, he said to me, "Laurie, I am so sorry I wasn't the father you deserved." I said, "Dad, it's in the past, I forgive you, it's all good."
I sit here, my father's daughter. He taught me to take chances, live my life and, of course, avoid drinking. He taught me that a sober life is an amazing life and the way to go.
I miss my Dad, each and every day. I feel most for those who weren't able to meet him, get touched by him, hear his words of wisdom, experience his humor. I pray that I can be half the person he was.
I miss you Dad. You live through me. Because of you, I am unafraid and live without regrets. You're my hero, always have been, always will be. Thanks for being my Dad.
I love you, forever and ever. Thanks for reminding me, "I've got my eye on you" because I believe you still do.