I would sit with him sometimes, in the very back pew of our church, while he was running the sound board. I used to watch the green bars flashing (or were they orange? maybe they were orange–), rising and falling with the volume from the microphones. I thought the sound system was so cool, and I was so lucky to get to sit back there with my Daddy and wonder about all the knobs and dials and slidey things.
He would sometimes stop by the Brick Oven Bakery on the way to drop me off at school. He would pick up donuts for the guys at work, and let me choose one too. I would try to eat it very fast during the short drive, and he would torment me by tickling my knees. He still does that, if I’m sitting by him in the front seat of the car. It doesn’t happen much these days.
He had a box of wind-up toys in his desk at work, and we would play with them if we had to wait for him there. My favorite was the woodpecker that you could suction-cup to a window and watch as it noisily yet unsuccessfully attempted to bore a hole through the glass with its plastic beak.
He used to let my sister hold on to the hammer loop on his jeans when we were walking through a store, and I was always jealous that he didn’t have two hammer loops.
He had back surgery the summer I was nine years old, and I remember him showing us the long row of staples on his back. It was gross. But really cool at the same time.
He used to write me poems. When I turned eighteen, I went to my locker between classes and found a poem and a rose he had left for me. The boys in Spanish class made fun of me for crying that day. But they were good tears.
I never, ever doubted his love for me. And I think that maybe that is the best tribute to him.
Now he is a grandpa, seven times over, and I have watched him hold each grandbaby with tenderness. I have seen a side of him with my boys that I never saw with us girls– the rocket-loving, train-building, floor-wrestling grandpa. It’s good.
And I am so blessed to call him my Daddy.