Nine years ago today, my father died.

I realize I have not been the best about keeping up with my “Life Story” installments.  I’m getting back to it soon – there has just been so very much going on that is stirring me to write on other topics.  I have been recently feeling a pull to get back to this so I will next week beloved friends.

Until then, I will share a snippet of a spoiler that will tell you part of the end though there is so much that led up to the end.  When I do write about my nutso life thus far, you won’t be disappointed.  Part Five will publish next week.  I promise.

JJ and I were sitting outside the other night on a balmy, summer evening enjoying what we call our “front porch date” (kids in bed, adult beverages in hand, good music) when I shared with him that I had been missing my father lately.  Mourning his loss.  Envisioning him running around our back yard with our three hooligans.  I can literally hear his laughter echoing through the air.

It hit me like a ton of bricks that I was likely feeling this way because this day was coming.  I always get a little more emotional around December 8 (his birthday) and June 8 (the anniversary of his death.)

For most of my father’s life, he was stolen from his loved ones by a horrible thief that goes by the name of “alcoholism”.  He was in and out of my life because sometimes he would dominate this wretched burglar and sometimes he just simply couldn’t.

Mr. Alcoholism robbed me of a father that I so desperately needed growing up but am now finding that I still so desperately need as an adult.  He robbed my children of their grandfather, who would have doted on Susannah and laughed hysterically at the ridiculous antics of my two wild boys who are 15 months apart and currently aged three and almost two.  He robbed Susannah of knowing what it would be like to have her mommy’s daddy wrapped around her finger while he robbed the boys of a man who would have told me that “They’re boys!!!” with a chuckle when I explained their latest fiasco.

I was robbed of conversations regarding dad’s experiences of living as a homeless man for a year then at Wheeler Mission for another year.  I was robbed of the discussions on faith and Jesus I would have loved to have had with him.  The gift of conversations that only maturity could bring and I did not possess when he was alive.

My mother was robbed of a husband who would consistently love her and robbed of having more children which in turn robbed me of having any siblings.

I was robbed of ever knowing the kind of relationship my father would have had with JJ because I know he would have loved him to pieces.  They are similar in so many ways because when Dad was sober, he was truly a “stand-up” man, respected by so many.

Yet on the other hand, the thief stole much of his dignity and forced my father to often feel embarrassed or ashamed during the last FINALLY sober six years of his life.  He spoke of regrets while at the same time dreamed of the future.

In the end, it wasn’t that wretched thief that took his life.  Mr. Alcoholism did not win.  Take that, you ruthless criminal.

However, his horrid accomplice, Mr. Cigarettes,  did.  My father ultimately died of COPD due to his two-pack-a-day smoking habit.

On this day, I rejoice in knowing that my father did indeed accept Jesus before he died.  I actually think he did this long before  but I can’t be sure as my own beliefs were not yet developed when he passed.  The seed had been planted and it was growing but he died before I could ever talk to him about my burgeoning faith.

I know that where he is now, neither Mr. Alcoholism nor Mr. Cigarettes can reach him.  They are not there.  There is no need for their company, thank you very much.

I know that where he is, he is finally at peace.  He can literally breathe easier and no longer needs to feel the shame and the embarrassment that I know he felt in the last years of his life.

I know that where he is, he can know my children.  It doesn’t look like the way I wanted him to know my children, but I think he does.   I like to think he knew them before I did – that he held them in a rocking chair in heaven until it was time for them to come to me.  That they had a chance to talk and giggle and read stories and learn from the wisdom that only a difficult life can bring.  That they had a chance to feel the crazy love that I know he would have showered them with if he were indeed alive today.

Dad, I miss you so much.  I miss your contagious laughter.  I miss the way you used to say “Bumps!” when you answered your phone or I answered mine.  I miss the way you shot straight from the hip and didn’t sugar-coat a thing.  But most of all, Dad, I miss the whole package of what was “you”.

I so look forward to seeing you again someday.

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