I have avoided writing a post about my Dad for sometime now. I always feel like my words just won’t do him justice at all. But I can’t put it off any longer.
Today would have been his 69th birthday but he passed away about 6 1/2 years ago. I spent a lot of time today thinking about him. I don’t cry anymore when I do, which is a relief because I don’t like to cry. That probably sounds terribly insensitive but I think it has to do with the condition he was in when he died. My dad was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease when I was pretty young, I think before I was baptized. A large tire fell on him at work and caused some damage to his brain which caused a very early onset of Parkinson’s. For years he and I would joke about his shaky hands, he had a great sense of humor and a wonderful laugh.
After I had been married a few years my dad’s mental health really started to deteriorate. It wasn’t all that noticeable till we started looking back. He eventually developed Dementia and by about 2000 was only partly living in the real world. His physical health slowly deteriorated as well and he caught Pneumonia and died. By the time he passed it felt like such a relief to know that his spirit was free from his crippled body. However for sometime after, all I could see when I thought of him was that shell of a man that wasn’t completely my dad. I think that is what would make me cry the most. It was difficult to remember him otherwise. Slowly though, those memories faded to the back of my brain, only to come out if I bring them, like now. Now I remember my dad as the playful, joking, kind-hearted man I grew up with. And that doesn’t make me sad because that’s who I know I’ll meet when I cross the veil someday.
This picture is one that I love and hate. It was during an unfortunate period when I decided to see what peroxide would do to my hair, but this scene was a daily ritual in our house. You couldn’t pass my dad in his chair without being grabbed and tickled.
I wish that I had inherited my dad’s temperament. He was incredibly easy going. I can only recall being spanked once growing up because I had dumped my mom’s cleaners into the little outside pool to make bubbles. When he would get angry he would just ball up his fists, clench his teeth, suck in his breath and shake. At least that’s what I remember, I’m told he was a little harder when the boys were little. He rarely acted out of anger. He never lost his cool, not even when he found out I had spent one summer smoking with a friend. He took me to his room, asked me if I should be doing something like that to my body, told me he was disappointed, then told me that if I never did it again, he would never bring it up again. And we both held to that bargain. I can probably name many more instances but that was one of the most poignant for me. He didn’t freak out, fly off the handle, ground me or forbid me from hanging out with that friend again. He just asked that I never do it again, very calmly and with all the love in his heart.
Other favorite memories that don’t make me cry, just smile:
Sunday drives up on the mountain
secret ice cream cones by Becker Lake
racing me home from Granny’s house (and he didn’t let me win either)
dressed up in his Scout uniform with that cool OA sash across his chest
him and Hayden watching rodeos together
his Dutch-oven cooking when we’d go camping (the only time my dad EVER cooked, my mom must have loved it)
him wrestling Odie, the pit bull, on the trampoline
the smell of diesel on him even after a shower
listening to country music in his truck (even thought I probably couldn’t stand it now)
snicker bars and some sort of caffeinated drink that we would sneak sips out of (why for do you drink my drink?)
ice cream after dinner every night that he could get away with
John Wayne, Bill Cosby, Wings, Dallas, eventually Seinfeld (gasp)
Yes I miss my dad TERRIBLY!!! And yes I cried a little while writing this.
Celso Madrid jr
Jan 13 1941 ~ Jun 6 2003