Special Memories of My Dad

I’ve been trying to write this for two years now, ever since writing down the special memories of my Mom. Dad and I have had a special bond forever, and how can you summarize a lifetime worth of things you remember or love about the people that have always loved you first? It’s complicated. All I know is a father is someone you should be able to rely on. He did a great job by me where it matters most. He’s still showing up for me now, and it’s everything I’ve ever wanted.

I thought of you, Dad, when I discovered Cake covered Bread?! A fantastic cover from one of my favorite bands of one of my other favorite bands. Enjoy.

Happy Memories

The song "Diary" by Bread always reminds me of my Dad. We had great music in our home growing up, from the Carpenters, the Beatles, Electric Light Orchestra, Eagles, Bee Gees, Queen, Gloria Estefan, Stevie Ray Vaughn, and much more... but this song was special. The door would have just enough light shining through so I could see him sitting in a chair, tenderly singing this song on his guitar to us kids for bedtime as I drifted to sleep. 
I remember Dad taking us kids to the bike shop where we left riding our brand new bikes through the neighborhood! 
Some of my favorite memories are of Dad coming home and us geeking out over the latest release from Apple! He was firmly a “Mac guy”, the Windows computers always had viruses or stuff he was dealing with at work. We spent hours installing programs, taking photos on our first web cam, setting up a network, upgrading with faster RAM or graphic cards, and watching the latest movie trailers on the Apple website. 
It was a big deal and a special occasion for us to go to the movies as a family. Dad got us tickets to see Episode 1 The Phantom Menace together. We grew up watching the Trilogy, and knew that we were experiencing history! I remember the poster of Anakin as a little boy and his giant Vader shadow being cast on the sand. I’m so glad Dad took us all out for that experience!
Dad and I went on special walks, which were a majority of our one-on-one time. We had heart-to-heart talks, and I must have asked him lots of questions because I learned a lot about him. His time in the army. Art class in the Philippines. The last thing his Dad said to him before passing away. Memories of his mission where he met my Mom. His dream of someday driving Mom to every state in the country. 
Strangely enough, yard work! Weekends were always working on projects, and Dad worked hard on everything he tried. Dad would trim all the lovely rose bushes, prune the trees, edge the lawn, and I’d gather up all the clippings or weeds. The smell of fresh cut grass always reminds me of that time with Dad. 
Here’s a silly one: Dad loved it when we were little and would “walk on his back” for massages. Each of us would work on an appendage simultaneously. We would also slather his feet with lotion and rub them. 
Dad was always very enthusiastic about experiencing and collecting movies and music. We bought the first Laser Discs when they came out (Twister!). We’d go to Best Buy together and check for all the new games and releases on DVD or this new thing Blue Ray. One summer there was a promotion at our local movie rental place, so we went every day sometimes multiple times, and regardless of whether we liked the movie or thought it was good Dad still had copies of it. We gelled our brains out that summer watching movies endlessly!!
Dad encouraged the Judging (structural) part of my personality. He had been in the military and valued order and discipline. He was a big believer in Franklin planners. “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail,” he would say; it’s still ingrained in me. He printed a daily planner for me that I kept in a folder, and taught me how to use it. I filled it out faithfully, organizing my priorities for the day and scheduling my tasks. I grew into a very productive and independent person, and appreciated what could be accomplished. 
Dad’s library was mostly full of self-help books. I was often assigned to write a book report on one and share it with him. How to Win Friends and Influence People. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. My favorite of Dad’s books, though, was a very thick book of Chords to a TON of pop and rock songs. He taught me how to play the most basic ones on the piano, and this allowed us to basically “jam” together to all those songs, many of which weren’t from my generation. 
Dad liked drinking his way to health! There was a Smoothie place in the mall we liked to order “our” special drink called the Bee Sting. It had bee pollen and I believe blueberries in it! We tried all sorts of stuff like wheat grass, whey, different powders, pomegranate juice, açaí… We bought a juicer so he could make drinks with whole carrots and other fruits and veggies. Dad made the best banana shakes and Green Machine smoothies. 
The transitional glasses that Dad wore darkened in bright light. It was supposed to help his eyesight since he spent so much time at work on the computer. However, it meant he always looked like he was wearing sunglasses indoors. He’d often have to look over his glasses to see if we were inside, and I could always find him if I looked for his sunglasses.
Dad regularly made meals for our family of 7 kids and his creations were always delicious. I missed his food so much when I left home, and often ask him for recipes. Some of my favorite food memories are of marinating and smashing meat with Dad for the grill, peeling garlic with him, and helping him with the sour cream on the Stroganoff. We spent a LOT of time in the kitchen. There was one easy special thing that just Dad and I ate together: Lox. We’d pick out smoked salmon at the store, and eat it on a bagel smeared with cream cheese— a favorite morning treat!
Dad would take me out for sushi when I finished big projects. He encouraged me to be adventurous and try new things on the menu. Then one day I tried Uni (sea urchin) and ended up throwing it up after getting sick on the drive home. He swerved on purpose, and Dad laughed at me for not having a tough enough stomach! 😆 Ever since then I’ve really struggled with any of the raw seafood… 
Anytime we asked Dad for a bedtime story or to tell us a story, there was only one he would share. Once upon a time, there was a Big Tree and a Little Tree. And the Big Tree said to the Little Tree… but he never really finished, or it was super short and unsatisfying! Which was memorable to me because in real life he always told captivating stories… It wasn’t until I became a parent and had my kids asking for stories every night that I almost pulled the Big-Tree-Little-Tree when I was dead tired 😂 Now I get it…

Lessons from Dad

I often felt like I was born in the wrong generation; I got along with adults more than my peers, I thought differently and didn’t understand why people did things. I cared so much about making and keeping friends, and Dad noticed. He tried to teach me about character, loyalty, and how only a person’s actions give meaning to their words. We didn’t always agree, but I did take his thoughts about friendship to heart and made some lifelong friends. 
In school I did my best to learn well and get good grades, and I was a perfectionist. Sometimes I got down on myself afterwards if I didn’t do well at a test or wasn’t sure if I would get into the highly competitive programs I applied for. Dad would say something like, “Wouldn’t it be great if they gave a degree of the heart?” He put it into perspective for me on how this is small in the grand scheme of things, that there is so much more to me, and that disappointing or difficult experiences also bring value to your character. 
I don’t remember his exact words, but Dad told me something when I was seriously dating. “He should want to talk to you just to hear your voice.”  The devotion, appreciation, and connection displayed in that seemed like a good indicator of a lasting relationship. I felt it, didn’t I deserve it back? Dad’s words nagged at me because I knew it wasn’t there yet, but I surely recognized it when my Sweetheart came along. 
Dad encouraged developing our talents, and sometimes it took a while 😛. He had me try so many musical instruments, all of which he owned and played, himself. Dad was very patient teaching me breathing, rhythm, reading music, and that nothing could substitute for Practice. As I bounced around between clarinet, piano, guitar, and drums he told me we needed to find my part in the family band. I appreciate that he gave me opportunities to participate in making music, and that our time together was always full of learning. 
Dad and I often had many existential discussions. He told me stories of miracles from his life, times our family was protected, times of healing, times his prayers were answered. He always credited God and the blessings of serving a mission. He survived a heart attack and some other scary stuff while we were still kids, and I remember vividly experiencing the power of prayer as Mom gathered us together on behalf of our Dad. Of course I remembered the story from when I was a baby. I sought to look for and immerse myself in  spiritual experiences. 
Family First, Dad would always say. He lived it. At one point when I was a teenager he got really candid and honest, and admitted to me that he wanted to run away. But he didn’t. At that crossroad he honored his  commitments and didn’t give up even in the most difficult moments. I had a loving father who participated fully for my whole life because Family First. Loyalty is love. I think that’s when I fully realized my hero was a real person with scars who didn’t always have the answers and sometimes wasn’t sure about things. I felt closer to my Dad knowing exactly how strong he really was, and more respect that he walked the walk. 

I love you always, Dad! Happy Father’s Day!

One Comment

  • Willie Delarosa

    Kathy, no words can explain how I’m feeling. My heart is full and so grateful for our times together. I have no idea you still remember all of those events. You truly are a gift from our Heavenly Father. You just never know the impact you’ve made in my life. It is a bit of heaven here on earth. I’m so blessed to have given the stewardship to have you as a daughter. I know I haven’t always lived up to being a Dad. Thank you for all the memories in this journey of life. It brought tears of joy in my eyes as I read and recall our times together. I will always treasure this moment and beyond. You and your siblings are the reason I celebrate Father’s Day. It is only fitting to know that life is so beautiful with you in it. I can see a pure reflection of the love your children has for both you and Jeremy. I love you so much Kathy and thank you for the most profound tribute ever written in my history.

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