Sunday, December 16, 2007

What do *I* want for Christmas?

It hit me today when I was out Christmas shopping with the smallest munchkin. The girls were at a "Christmas is for kids" church sponsored Vacation Bible School Day - or what one lady called the "mom can shop in peace" day so Chunk and I were finishing up some stuff around town. We were having a nice morning, chattering and cooing back and forth while I browsed through the Oregon Beavers shirts in KMart.

People love the Chunk. I mean, my kids garner compliments wherever they go - either because they are beautiful or because they are hellions, it depends. But there was Chunk, sitting up all buckled into the cart, grinning and drooling and da-da-da-da-ing at everyone who passed us by and people just ate him up. Which any mommy loves.

Then this sweet older couple walks by. The gentleman stops and says to his wife, "Honey, come look at this little one! What a cutie!" Of course I grinned and thanked him and answered the run of the mill what's-his-name and how-old-is-he questions and then this sweet old man crouched down to Chunk and around a big old smile he says to him:

"I betcha any old Papa could just spoil you silly."

My whole world just kind of slowed down right then and there. I actually felt like I was underwater all of a sudden. My throat closed up and my chest hurt and my ears got kind of fuzzy but somehow, I managed to keep on smiling and gave an obligatory chuckle and exchanged Merry Christmases and Happy Holidays with this sweet old man who only wanted to compliment my beautiful son and had no idea that with one sentence, he temporarily brought my whole world to a standstill. Papa...that's what my girls called my Dad.

Any old Papa......the words still echo in my head as I sit and type this.

My Chunk doesn't have a Papa. I mean, he DOES, and he always WILL. But not really. Not here. Not the one who was supposed to bounce him on his knee and give piggyback rides and teach him to fish. Not the one who would email me child recall notices religiously like an old mother hen. Not the one who would tell me everything I'm doing wrong...and then in the next breath tell me everything I'm doing right.

It just hit me all over again. Every so often even after almost three years it just slams home. My Dad adored my girls. He was the peanut butter to their jelly. And no matter how tough he was on me, he was just a big old teddy bear pushover softie with them. Kbear was just a baby herself when he got sick. They look at pictures and they know who he is, but they don't know him anymore. That hurts. There wasn't enough time. No amount would have ever been enough but we really got cheated. How does a man become a Papa at only forty two years old and only get to enjoy it for three years? How is that fair? How is that RIGHT? Nothing anyone can say can convince me that somewhere in the great cosmic universe there is some great good that balances that out.

I miss him so much. No one is perfect. He wasn't. Far from it. But he loved us and he only ever wanted what was best for us. I hated that he always worried about us so much, and I miss having him around to worry. I miss that he was good and he was tough and he was loyal to a fault. I even miss that he was always right. I miss hearing his voice on the other end of the phone when I call home. After all this time sometimes it still surprises me that he's never the one to pick up. I miss him badgering us about whether or not we've had the tires rotated recently or the oil changed. I miss my Dad.

But today, even more than any of that stuff, I just miss my kids' Papa.


Tracey said...

*hugs* The holidays are always tough. He's with them, and you, everyday, I'm sure. And he's very proud of you and the family you've created. *hug*

The Completed Kattner said...

You know, I think this very thing about my children. That the age they are now should anything happen to me and Dave should remarry my children will not know who I am. Sure Dave would be great at keeping pictures and telling them who I was but THEY will not KNOW ME!!! No memory of me - nothing!!! And with that I just went to my room and cried for an hour! Can you believe it. I just lost my Grandma and my children will never have any memories of her. That was when I decided it was up to me to keep her alive in them. Your Dad is watching over you and I really believe that he is. You are still doing everything wrong - and everything right!

Stephanie Connolly said...

You made me cry at work. I'm sure you will do a wonderful job of keeping his memory alive for them. The explanation you gave about how your dad would ask about rotating the tires and all that fun dad stuff (it must run in the family). Even at the ripe old age of 29 my dad still asks if I have checked my oil and tires. I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday and I hope to see you all this summer at the wedding.

AuntJane said...

Boy Ame, you got me! He's been on my mind so much these days. I, too, miss him more than I even understand. It hasn't helped that I've had to search the archives for a photo of him (Uncle Mike asked for one for a surprise he's working on for Grammy&Papa). He was such a good man, brother, uncle to my kids, and friend for me - even when he was sitting on me doing the spit yo-yo or making me eat grass when I was little! And, yes, he did worry for all of us!

Your kids will forever know their Papa, even if they don't remember him - you are who you are because of him (like it or not) and they will reap the benefits of having such a loving, caring, creative, giving Mama who loved her Dad! So check your tires and get your oil changed and keep an eye out for that cardinal...because he is watching over you! Love to you all this Christmas - will miss you tons!

Charlotte said...

Ack...don't do that again! Reading along happily and now I'm crying. I want more wrapping paper stories.

Charlotte said...

Ack...don't do that again! Reading along happily and now I'm crying. I want more wrapping paper stories.