Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Dear Daddy.

It’s been six years and you’ve missed so much. And I know... they say you aren’t really missing anything, that you’re right here with us. But it’s not the same, you know? So much has happened.

Alex turned 18 this week. Your first grandchild is officially an adult, which would’ve made you officially old. He graduates next month and will head off for East Carolina University in the fall (although he had his choice of colleges since four of them so far have sent acceptance letters!). You’d want to jerk a knot in him for all the tattoos he has, but you’d be so proud of the man he has grown up to be.

Amber graduates from ECU next month. She leaves, and Alex goes... small world! And she already has a full time job working for some rich surgeon. She’s living all on her own in Raleigh, finishing school on time with close-to-perfect grades, working full time, and she just ran a 5k with Hannah last weekend. Not much has changed about Miss Do-It-All-and-Do-It-All-Right. She’s definitely our Amber. If you were here, you’d be bragging about her list of accomplishments to everybody.

Brycson was just in the newspaper yesterday. Front page, top photo. She was named Captain of the Burlington Police Explorers program a few weeks ago, and they were volunteering for the Clean Sweep river clean up. Also, she just passed her driver’s ed written test, and after four rounds of instructional driving, she’ll get her permit. Your first granddaughter is about to start driving. I’ll say it again... Dad, you’d be old.

Sissy is busy raising the babies, who aren’t really babies anymore, and becoming a master chef. And Heather is busy with school, and on and off, she’s helping raise a zoo of teenagers who aren’t even hers. I know I’m the little sister so it might be weird for me to say it, but they make me so proud. And I know you’d be spoiling all those kids of theirs rotten.

There is so much you’re missing out on, and sometimes, it breaks my heart.

I wish you could’ve been here to meet J and Alicson. J plays T-ball now. I wish you were here to help him practice his swing and his pitch. He talks about you sometimes, like he knows you. Maybe he does. And Alicson is the little princess of our family. You wouldn’t be able to get enough of those fat little cheeks she has. She is starting to talk now, and we’re working on getting a “GO DUKE!” out of her.

And there’s me. I finally graduated. I wouldn’t have, except I remembered how important it was to you. You didn’t get the chance, so you expected it from us. You got your wish, Daddy. Four college-educated daughters. 

There are a few things you’d want to kill me for. Like Alex and Heather, I have a few tattoos of my own. One is for you. One is for Jami Hinson, who died the year after you did. And the others are just ones I wanted... I figured after the first two, a couple more wouldn’t matter.

And I have a boyfriend. I think you would approve... secretly. I know you’d never actually admit it. You always said no one would be good enough for your girls, but I think I got pretty close with this one. Even though he’s a stinkin’ UNC fan, if you were here, yall could be friends during the off-season and talk about cooking and sports. Maybe you’d even go play terrible games of golf together.

My lifelong dream finally came true this week. I got a puppy! His name is Simon, and you would DEFINITELY approve of him. He is beyond adorable, a tiny little rescue Dachshund mix. I know we both like bigger dogs, but I just couldn’t say no to this little guy. I wish you were here to meet him, even though I know you’d sneak him people-food when I wasn’t looking.

We miss you, Daddy. We’re all doing alright, but there’s a big, gaping hole in our family puzzle, and the missing piece is you. I know I shouldn’t cry, but sometimes I wish so hard for you to be here that it actually hurts.

I wish you could be here to see all of this, to be a part of it. I wish you were here to see Alex and Amber walk across those stages. To teach Brycson the “look inside the curve” driving trick. To see J’s first real home run and to introduce Alicson to “Mr. Hand”. To petsit Simon, and to give Matt the “hurt my daughter and I’ll kill you” lecture. I wish you were going to be here to walk me down the aisle and dance at my wedding someday, to hold my future babies and see if their eyes are as blue as yours were. I wish you were here lecturing us and encouraging us and doing all the things daddies do for their girls.

I wish you could be here to let us all know that we really are doing alright, that we’re making you proud. I know we are, but like I said, it’s not the same. We really miss you, Dad. We really love you. We really wish you were here.

I wish you could have been there for the sun & the rain & the long, hard hills. For the sound of a thousand conversations scattered along the road. For the people laughing & crying & remembering at the end. But, mainly, I wish you could have been there.-Brian Andreas, StoryPeople