Thursday, June 15, 2006

Daddys and daughters . . . Jesus and Guitars

My dad's been gone five years now but I still find myself wanting to call him. Sometimes, I can hear him laughing and often feel his spirit around when I hear a Kris Kristopherson song.

My daddy was special to me but but not in the way most little girls feel about their daddys. He was a musician at heart and a traveling salesman by trade. My parents divorced when I was 12 but they were apart for most of my life so my time with him as a child was very limited.

By the time I was grown, Daddy had developed into a full blown alcoholic and lived with me off and on for over 10 years. When Mike and I moved to Paradise, Montana in the late 80's, Daddy went with us. Once there, he bought a travel trailer and proceeded to make a home for himself in the mountains. In record time, Daddy became one of the tiny town's most colorful and beloved characters. He was a fixture at the Pair-a-Dice Bar where he cooked almost every piece of BBQ they served for the next 12 years.

The folks in Paradise were so fond of him that two years after he died, they held fund raisers to buy him a headstone, something we hadn't been able to afford when he died but always planned to get one day. They got it too. - a huge gray granite headstone with the drawing Mike did of him engraved on it and his favorite saying, "Hello, Darlin'" right underneath it. He would have gotten such a kick out of that!

One of my friends lost her Dad last week. He was a great man too - but much different than mine. He was practically a national icon; a powerful, politically involved man who owned a huge ranch in the Nevada mountains. His memorial service was attended by many well known people and took a week to plan.

We couldn't afford to have my Dad embalmed so his funeral was held within 24 hours after he died. We always laughed about it saying he practically embalmed himself with beer. Besides, there's something icky about the whole embalming process so I don't think he minded.

My friend's heart is hurting now - and I feel sad for her. I've been where she is and it's hard. Little things bring on crying spells, in the grocery store, reading a magazine, cooking dinner, holding the phone realizing you can't call him anymore - all kinds of sneaky situations that catch you by surprise. It's hard but it gets better with time. I miss singing with my dad, nagging him about his drinking and discussing religion with him - but I miss laughing with him the most. Sometimes, we'd laugh so hard we couldn't catch our breath! It was splendid fun.

My daddy died a pauper - no land, no money, no nothing really - just me and my sisters and all his friends in Paradise - but I believe the last fifteen years of his life were by far and away his happiest. We buried him there, in the little Paradise cemetery, in a peaceful plot with a perfect view of the mountains he grew to love so much.

I miss him still but I know he's good now. Just think - in Heaven, Daddy can spend time with Jesus ( and that man loved Jesus!) and won't ever have to hock his guitar again!

Happy Father's Day, Daddy. . .

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