It was fifteen years ago today, March 7th, when my phone rang at 5:30 in the morning. It was my Mom telling me my dad had collapsed on their bedroom floor. I’ll never forget her voice. “Carrie, I think he’s already gone.” It was a surreal moment. Suddenly, the world stopped. As I tried to get dressed, I collapsed on the closet floor, sobbing into my husband’s arms. I had just talked to my Dad the night before. He was feeling better. He sounded better. He was better. He had called to discuss the Diamondbacks game. It was such a normal conversation for my dad and me to have. Nothing out of the ordinary. Just a simple conversation between a father and a daughter who shared the same love of sports. There wasn’t a long, tearful goodbye. It was just a typical Thursday night. It was the last phone call I would ever receive from my dad.
Now that it’s been fifteen years, I reflect back on those days with mixed emotions. Of course, I would give anything to talk to him again. To tell him how much I love him and what a wonderful father he was. Perhaps something a little more sentimental other than the spring roster and the batting lineup. Then, I think about him. I think that’s exactly what he would want our last conversation to be about. He would not want me to mourn his passing. He would not want me to feel sorry for myself, my husband, or my kids. He would want us to celebrate! He is in Heaven and has front row seats to every big and little event happening in our life.
It’s not always easy to remind myself of this. Sometimes, I feel robbed. My dad never got to watch my kids graduate from high school, attend spelling bees, basketball or football games. He didn’t get to see his oldest granddaughter graduate with her bachelor’s degree, followed by her master’s degree two years later. He didn’t get to see his grandson play college football, and earn a degree in mechanical engineering. He has missed so much and so have my kids.
When these feelings of sadness creep into my mind, I immediately try to replace them with more positive, happy thoughts. Some of my fondest childhood memories involve my dad. My memories are simple. I remember flying a kite with him after his basketball season had ended. I remember going with him to his classroom on a Sunday afternoon. While he graded papers, I pretended to play school and wrote all over the chalkboard. I remember going camping and fishing with him when I was in high school. It was just the two of us. I can recall sitting around the campfire and looking up at the sky. Neither one of us had ever seen so many stars. I can remember lying on the couch with him watching the Dodgers’ game and learning all about baseball. I can recall hours spent in the swimming pool playing Marco Polo with him. We ran errands together. Just simple, routine moments which make up some of my most precious and vivid childhood memories.
Of course, I have milestone memories as well. I remember when my soon to be husband and I woke my dad up to announce we were engaged after just three months of dating! He greeted us with a smirk and his infamous raised eyebrow. I can remember walking down the aisle on his arm and our father/daughter dance at the reception. I now know he, along with my mother and sister, were camped out in the hallway ALL day awaiting the arrival of their first granddaughter. I remember when he bought season tickets to the Diamondbacks and was thrilled to take me or my kids with him. I was blessed to attend the 7th World Series Game with him in 2001. What a game, what a memory!
My dad was many things. He was a teacher, a coach, a husband, father, grandfather and friend. He was a history buff and a sports enthusiast. He was a Christian, a confidant, and a leader in our home. He was present! He was my dad, my friend, and my hero!
I miss you, Dad!