I was never really good at Math. It was always a huge struggle for me.
My Dad was REALLY good at Math. And I think it was a struggle for him to watch me struggle.
We had many a battle at the kitchen table. I don't think my Dad would deny that he wasn't the most patient teacher after the 2 hour mark of trying to explain how to tackle math problems. Our homework or tutoring sessions ended with me in tears 75% of the time. When it came to that - we were oil and water.
But when it came to matters of the heart? My Dad was my rock.
Throughout our entire Father/Daughter journey together - which was 41years - I could go to him about anything. And in 41 years I managed to get myself into a lot of predicaments (you can read all about my history HERE). But he never - not once - lost faith in me. He never, ever, gave up on me. And he seemed to possess a patience for me and my problems and my failures and my struggles that from the outside might have looked like enabling. And maybe, in some ways, it was.
But I think it was much, much more.
My Dad was always a very positive person. He'd often hang up inspirational quotes and recite inspirational messages like "Don't Quit. When things go wrong, and they sometimes will - when the road you're traveling seems all uphill..."
I remember many, many bedside conversations...long talks outside...on the phone...where he would remind me that nothing is ever as bad as it seems. He'd encourage me and tell me there was nothing that I couldn't overcome. He'd help me to look outside of myself to see that I wasn't the only human suffering. And he'd constantly - no matter what circumstance I was in - tell me that he was proud of me.
I really think that he knew that if he just kept drilling his confidence, his positivity, his love for life into my thick skull...that one day, it would stick. One day I would "get it" - "wake up" - "grow up" - and it would all "click." Out of the five children he had, I think I was his challenge. And he wasn't one to back down from a challenge.
It's hard to believe - still - that he's gone. It was two years ago today that he died suddenly from a stroke.
His death was so awful for me. Losing a parent is a profoundly devastating experience. But in some strange way, I now see his passing as a gift to me in a very small way. Because of my relationship with him...and all that we shared...I feel like he's still with me. I don't feel like he's at the cemetery...or floating in Heaven above the clouds. I feel like he's been with my children and in the car with me and watching us as a family and he's definitely been to the beach with us. I wasn't able to say "goodbye" to my Dad - and our last phone conversation was not profound. But because of our relationship - that didn't matter. He died and there was nothing left unsaid. I'm so grateful for that. I still talk to him and channel his positivity in moments when I need him the most. Because of all of that, I feel like it almost prepared me (in some small way) for Gavin's death. And I know - because of all my Dad taught me so patiently over the years - that I can and will get through the loss of Gavin.
My Dad wrote me many letters and cards over the years - and I kept them all. He would almost always sign them "Keep the Faith." It was a saying that was such a part of my Dad that it's on his tombstone. He would end our phone conversations with, "I love you, honey. Keep the faith."
Well, I did it, Dad. I kept the faith. We are facing the unthinkable...and, because of all you taught me, I am still standing. And I intend to make you proud until I see you again. Thank you for caring for our children until we get there.