Ode to Dad

My first Prince Charming

When my sister and I left home, each of us was given our own toolbox by the man who had worked in construction since the age of 12. It was expected that we know how to use our tools and that we would carry on the do-it-yourself tradition in which we were raised. Dad wasn’t about to have his 2 daughters go into the world depending on anyone.

We valued his practical skills, soaking up bits of expertise whenever possible. “Stick with me 365 days and you’ll learn 365 new things,” he’d claim, and who could argue? Dad could fix or build anything, which became his calling card. 

We loved to tease him about using $10 worth of epoxy to repair a $5 item. In his world, everything was worth saving.  He collected discarded vacuums like abandoned children in need of a good home. But he had the last laugh when he opened one of the bags and found a sapphire and diamond ring.

One of his unique and endearing traits was that he always whistled while he worked. He took pride in all his jobs and projects and expected others to do the same.

Being born into Dad’s inner circle of affection provided a front-row view to his generosity. There’s nothing he wouldn’t do for the ones he loved. Dad lent his tools, time, and attention to anyone, unless they disrespected him. 

Each of us thrived on the enormity of his love and his belief in us. “Show’em what you’ve got,’ he’d say, and ‘don’t let anyone tell you you can’t do something.”

As a model grandfather, Dad busted through gender stereotypes before his time. He changed diapers, rocked babies, and cared for them all when they were sick. He was the kind of Grandpa who would read a story about a bunny, then spontaneously agree to make the carrot cake recipe at the end of the book.

Dad was a partner in crime – always game for a plan that was fun, adventurous, or harmlessly naughty. There was chicken hatching, homing pigeons, and even a transient pet turkey. There were ski trips, shopping trips, and trips down memory lane when he would wax poetic about the good ole days, conveying through rose-colored glasses, his version of a life well-lived.

Over the years, I’ve heard more than a handful of friends and family say, “What would we do without Danny?”

Now we have to find out what life without this remarkable man looks like. There will be holes that no one else will fill. Dad is irreplaceable and unrepeatable. 

Who will steal the last puzzle piece as a practical joke?

Who will bake too many desserts for every occasion and for no occasion at all?

Who will stop us as we back out of the driveway so he can wash our dirty headlights before our journey home?

There’s no one who loved like he did. How lucky we are to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard.

Dad,

May your candy jar always be full. 

May there be cucumbers in every salad.

And may your Heavenly table be surrounded by family and friends who love you as much as you love them.

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