"I thought of you with love today but that is nothing new
I thought about you yesterday and days before that too,
I think of you in silence I often speak your name
All I have are memories and your picture in a frame
Your memory is my keepsake with which I'll never part
God has you in His keeping I have you in my heart."
~ Author Unknown
Today marks the 27 year anniversary of my dad's death. I have shared in previous blogs about my dad's tragic suicide. But I haven't said much (or anything) about my dad ~ what kind of man he was, and the gifts and lessons he taught me. Today, I am paying honor to my dad.
My dad was an extremely intelligent man...a genius, actually. He played a key role in Intelligence during World War Two. Later, he used his gifted mind to create a system of determining the effectiveness of advertisements on potential buyers, with a ninety-six percent accuracy at predicting levels of sales. This system used a machine similar to a lie detector, and was proven time after time to measure the impact an advertisement would have before it was used. Major brand companies and magazine businesses used his system before making costly investments of air time, magazine spreads and covers.
My dad was very passionate about his family and home life. He was the provider and the protector of our home and all that resided there. We lived in a contemporary home in a very nice neighborhood. My dad purchased our home on a whim and surprised my mom with our new residence. I was only three at the time, so I cannot remember if that was a welcome gift in my mother's eyes. But I loved growing up in that house. It had four stories, built on a hillside, and I loved to fly down its stair rails. I loved the woodsy feel of the yard that surrounded our home. My imagination was able to soar in our unusual abode.
As I think back on my childhood, I realize I owe so much to my dad. He is the reason I went to college and graduated. With him, education wasn't a choice...it was "do or die". When I think of my rebellious years, I know it was my dad who calmed and soothed my mother's worries. My dad was fiercely protective of me. I remember coming home from my job at Baskin Robbins one night. A car had followed me the entire way. I pulled into our driveway, not knowing what to do. I planned to make a run to our front door, but when I opened my car door, the man who had followed me was already at my car. A feeling of panic rose up in me. But at that instant, the front door opened, and my dad came running out of the house, yelling at the man to leave me alone. The man raced to his car. But that wasn't good enough for my dad. He jumped into his own car, and began a hot pursuit after the man. I could hear the screeching of tires for a couple of minutes. My dad returned later. I never knew what happened, but I knew my dad had taken care of me.
My dad taught me a lot. By example, he drilled into me the message to pursue my dreams. My passion for writing comes from my dad. He loved to sit and read my poems, stories, song lyrics, and essays. His comments were always affirming. He also taught me to take risks in life ~ to not play it safe all the time. When my heart was broken by my college sweetheart and wedding plans were cancelled, it was my dad who encouraged me to open my heart up again to love.
My dad loved the holidays. He appreciated everything about traditions. He relished the fact that it was his job to adorn our Christmas tree with lights. The holidays seemed to bring out the child in him. I remember the year my siblings and I gave my parents puppies for Christmas. My mom was understandably overwhelmed with the prospect of taking care of two little furballs during the busiest day of the year. But my dad was in puppy heaven. He took to those little guys immediately, and assumed all responsibility for walking them three times a day from then on.
I loved the fact that my dad was so multi-dimensional. He was a hard-working man, dedicated (to a fault) to his work. But he could also reveal his inner child at the most unexpected times. I remember the year I went with him to Disneyland to do a job for his business. After our work was completed, he suggested we go into the park and have some fun. I was dumbfounded and delighted at his eagerness to go on rides. I will never forget the smiles and laughter that poured out of him that night.
Sometimes when you lose a loved one in a tragic and unexpected way, the memories of how they died override the memories of how they lived. For so long, I have made this mistake. Today, I look back with deep fondness and a thankful heart for my dad, who was that and so much more. I love you, Dad.
"To live in hearts we leave behind is not to die."