Saturday, June 20, 2009

I Always Wanted To Be Like My Dad.

As I have reflected on the countless memories I had in the 28 years I experienced with my father, one of the first things I thought of was the bucket head band. It also counts as one of my earliest memories. As seen in the photo below, we were all in fact, bucket heads. I was the drummer, Marc was the kazoo player and my dad, the singer/band leader. I remember so vividly prancing around the house in our "band uniforms" and feeling like we were really onto something! I remember looking to my dad as the leader, trying to mimic him. I always wanted to be like my dad.

When I was growing up, my dad played on the slow pitch team, the Aro Glass Clubbers. They were (and still are) a phenomenal team. I spent many summers as a child, traveling around, rallying rally cans and singing "Run Around Sue" after every victory. Often times, I'd go into the dugout to solicit money for candy during the games (I was a daddy's girl!) and remember one time specifically in Bremerton where I had done just that and before I could finish my plea, it was my dad's turn at bat. I sat in the dugout kicking dirt around while he was on deck and when he got up to bat, he hit a home run on the first pitch. I stood up and peered through the fence and watch him round the bases. When he got to third base, he made eye contact with me and smiled. I ran out of the dugout and got in line behind the other players to give the appropriate post-home run high five. I can still see him in my head at that moment. When he got to me, he picked me up and twirled me around while people were cheering. He was a hero. I didn't ever get to the candy solicitation, I just left that dugout smiling. My dad was so cool and I wanted to be like him.

As I got into high school, having your dad around everyday was a little less cool than having him hit home runs. In fact, it was often embarrassing. From high school dances, to walking the halls from class to class, he was always there. He knew when I was late, he knew when I got an A, he knew when I had a crush, he knew when I was having a hard day. One of my favorite memories with my dad in high school was spirit week. Being my father's daughter, I loved school spirit. Beginning my freshman year, I took spirit week to the extreme and my dad was always there, egging me on. Our favorite day was of course, blue and gold day. By the time my junior year came around, we were having to get pretty creative with the outfits. Having been a coach for over 20 years, he had quite the selection of blue and gold. I remember him getting a box out of the attic with a bunch of old uniforms and giving me a great AHS "track jacket" to wear. He had a solution for everything! He even would paint paw prints on my face. Even though he was embarrassing, I wanted to be like him.

In more recent years, I've come to respect my dad for his work ethic and consistent motivation to be his best. A few months before his death, we were sitting in the family room watching Perry Mason during lunch. He had come home from the college to eat and take a nap and I could tell he was totally exhausted. I suggested that maybe he stay home the afternoon and rest but he insisted that he go back to work because he had so much to get done before beginning another round of inpatient chemo the next week in Seattle. Then, quietly, he said "I wish I could do more as AD. I know I'm just not doing enough and I want to carry my share." I wanted to respond quickly with a comment about how much he had done and how amazing it was that he was even able to do what he was doing. Before I could even start my sentence, he was asleep. I watched him for a few minutes - his body was so weak, but even that day, I saw my hero and I wanted to be like him.

Dad, I still want to be just like you and I always will. Thanks again for choosing me.


Kristy said...

Very well written, Kristi. This is always a hard day for me, and I'm sure it will be for you from here on out. I'm always here if you need an ear or a shoulder. The Kens are looking down on us both, their chosen Kristi(y)'s, smiling. :)

Kristy J.

Julie said...

Really awesome story. Thanks for helping to keep Ken close for us. I am sure this first father's day without him is not easy but you doing the coolest thing. Nice.