Dad called my special needs child “Numero Uno”. It will be two Father’s Days ago that my Daddy left this world. The memory of his warm embrace keeps me smiling.
In my eulogy to Dad, I noted that a piece of me left this world with my Dad, but that a piece of my Dad lives on in me. The power of his love, wisdom and presence when I need him will always be with me. He had the gift of making everyone feel special.
I remember being a teen and going down into the basement into Dad’s “man cave”. I loved spending some time together and sharing my experiences with him. I was very open with Dad. He listened and trusted me to make sensible choices.
I actively created my relationship with Dad. I realized that in order to have Dad trust me, he needed to know me. We needed to talk.
Many parents do not have an open dialog with their children simply because we were never taught how to do that from our parents. So many of us try to live within what we perceive is expected of us. Consequently, many dads and their children do not get along well.
As a parent, we can foster good communication by asking questions and listening. As a child, we can choose to share our thoughts with our parents.
The bond that I forged with Dad as a child grew richer as I grew into adulthood. When “Numero Uno”, the first grandchild was born, Dad was there to help nurture me as I raised my special needs girl.
My fragile preemie was born a high-risk baby and only three and one half pounds at birth. She nursed weakly every two hours. As I rocked throughout the wee hours, Dad kept me company.
As “Numero Uno”, my “precious preemie” grew, Dad was there every step of the way playing, loving and even, at times, caring for her and her siblings. His support was something I could always rely upon.
He acknowledged the challenges of being a mom to a child with special needs. He supported me to thrive no matter what roadblocks I encountered.
It was magical to watch as the bond between my Dad and his “Numero Uno” grew and developed. My daughter’s attentiveness to Dad in his waning years was inspirational for me to watch.
In my last words to Dad, I told him he left no stone unturned. My mom praised him for taking care of her so completely.
“Numero Uno” was with Dad during his last breath of life. He seemed to know how important this experience would be for her.
Hearing the hum of the hedge trimmer, I looked up from writing this blog to say hi to Frank. Each time I see him, Frank quips, in his Sicilian accent, that only ten percent of people still stop to say hello or even wave as they pass. “What a change I have seen in sixty years of being a landscaper.”
One day, when my dad was sitting in the front sunroom, Frank came to say hello. That time has long passed and dad can no longer grace my space, my life or that of Numero Uno’s.
Take the time to say hello to the Dads whose life support nourishes our very soul.
My Dad listened and supported me even when he was ninety-three.
I am so lucky to have been loved by a man whose three most important words were “kind, kind, kind”. Dad always knew how to make me feel loved which gave me the strength to love and care for my family.
This Father’s Day, give the gift of time. You will cherish this gift forever.