A Tribute to My Dad

February 10, 2011 § 1 Comment

My dad’s name is Clifford C. Morey and he died 18 years ago today. It’s a somber way to start the morning but also a happy way as I remember wonderful times spent with him and can share them with you here.

I’ll start this out saying that I wish, of course, that I’d been able to spend more time with him. Nine years doesn’t seem like  much more than the blink of an eye. As I get older the memories seem to get fuzzier and sometimes I wonder if what I “remember” is actually something I remember happening or just a photo I’ve seen that I’ve imagined in my head. Whatever it is I cling to those memories with the hope that they won’t completely fade away.

One thing I remember very clearly is the day that he passed away. There is a certain dull ache that emerges once the stinging pain that takes your breath away fades. It never truly goes away. The dull ache subsides in that part of your heart that belonged to them and whenever you visit it in your mind the ache comes to the forefront. I won’t go into detail as I assume all of you have experienced the loss of someone dear to you and know that pain as well. It comes up when you think of them.. it comes up when you realize that you haven’t been thinking of them as much. It just is.

It isn’t easy losing a parent. I would never wish it on anyone. It was very hard for my mother – who may not believe it but was very strong at a crucial time when her kids needed support. It is hard for my brother, I know, because he was very close to my dad and that bond is not something he’s formed with anyone else in our family. I wish more than anything that I could have given him more time with my dad to get to know him and build memories. It seems to me I had an unfair advantage being older and getting that extra year and a half with him. I hope that my brother knows how deeply my dad loved him as well. I remember times my dad would lay on the floor and bounce my brother on his stomach. I don’t know if TJ realizes it or not but he has the same sparkle in his eye that my dad had in his. TJ – if you’re reading this I’m sure that dad is really, really proud of you. Like I am.

It’s been hard for me too. Birthdays, Christmas’s, boyfriends he should have been there to meet and when I got married I wish he could have been there to walk me down the aisle. (Don’t get me wrong, my dad Russ has been great – and I’ll touch more on that in a bit.) But there are parts of me that do not come from my mom – parts of me that I notice that are different than everyone else and I wonder – is that from my dad?

I’ll tell you what I do remember about my dad. I remember the twinkle in his eye. I remember his grin – both innocent and mischievous.  I remember sitting up with him late at night while he watched wrestling – he would take a pint of ice cream, stick a fork in it and unwrap the carton eating it like an ice cream cone. I remember the time we spent in the backyard building the playhouse. I remember Hurricane Andrew and huddling up in our parent’s room. I remember him making fish and chips and seafood salad. I remember his hugs. I miss them most of all. They were bear hugs – warm and strong and protective.

My favorite memory is one that I tell myself about over and over and over again so that I won’t forget it. I remember the morning he woke me up early – before the sun was up. He took me to the bait shop and then we went down to the pier and went fishing. I remember that as we sat there it began to rain. I thought we would go home but instead he went to the car and got a tarp and he pitched a tent on the pier. I sat there with him that morning; fishing in the rain.

It seems cruel for a daughter to lose a father. That singular protective tower of strength and love. And I miss him, I miss him every day. I fantasize about going fishing with him and talking about life. I wonder what it would be like to go on a trip with him or to sit down to dinner with him. I think about what it would be like to just go hang out with him – and those are things I’ll always wonder about.

I didn’t grow up without a dad though. We were very fortunate. My mom met a wonderful guy named Russ. Although the beginning of our relationship was rough – and it stayed that way for a while – we learned to be friends. Over time we bonded over shared interests and I think the final straw – the thing that made me realize that he was more a dad than I’d originally considered him – was that he stuck around through some pretty rough times.

Yes, I still miss Cliff. I miss my daddy. But I’m very thankful that Russ is in our lives – I’m thankful that I can call him dad and that I know he loves us. I’ll cherish the time I’ve spent with him. I’ll always consider Cliff to be my daddy – but I consider Russ to be my father. I grew up with him – he has taught me a great deal of things – both “to do” and “not to do” and he does his best to fill the gap. I imagine it was hard for him to go from being a bachelor to a husband and father to two grieving children so quickly. I don’t take that for granted.  I hope that he knows that I love him and consider him my friend.

But I’ll always miss my daddy. I’ll be thinking of him today, as I do so often, with love and longing.

Dad, if you’re out there – I miss you and I love you.  xo

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