I always loved to hear Tim's thoughts during an election year because he was so excited about the process. I remember how he told us all it would be Florida that was going to be the state that determined out presidential faith. And boy was he RIGHT! I guess I admired him so much because he had such a zeal and zest for his work. I also admired him, because like me, he took everything that had happened to him as a blessing, loved his father fiercely, valued family immensely, and, despite all the accolades, always thought of himself as just regular ol' smo from Buffalo.
Tim always asked the tough questions of those who sat at his table on Sunday morning, never really playing favorites one party over the other. Tim had several ties here to Boston. His son Luke just graduated from BC and his father is here in a elderly care facility. So I have gotten more than my fair share of Russert remembrance and learned more about him as a man which has been nice.
I just wanted to give blog shout out to Tim on this Sunday, which also happens to be Father's Day. My Sunday will not be as entertaining or informative as it was before this day. And I, like Luke Russert, though not as fresh will celebrate a fatherless Father's day today.
Sometimes I can't believe that my dad has been gone for so long, this is my 10th Father's day with out him, he died in May of '99. I was a daddy's girl or should I say boy. My father raised me like the son he never had. I was his first and although parent's aren't supposed to have a favorite my siblings believe I was his favorite. Maybe its because I was his first that we had a strong bond. My other siblings, all from different mothers, never lived with my father as long as I did and never had the relationship or connection we had. I think the fact that my mom allowed our relationship to be, despite what his and hers became had a lot to do with it.
My father had LOTS of issues. My mom was a battered wife and I remember being young and hearing and seeing her catch a few azz whippings. When my parents were divorcing my dad and his wife at the time tried intimidation tactics to get her to agree to his terms and to be honest and truthful my father could be consider difficult and an all around azzhole. He was both verbally and physically abusive to my mother through out their relationship and marriage.
I think my father taught me a my first lesson in unconditional love, because of who he was I had a choice to either love him despite that or hate him. I, for some reason, chose love. It's easy to love someone when they are your parent and even easier when that parent's flaws are not sinister. My dad for lack of a better term was sinister at time. However I knew how much he loved me despite all the phucked up things he did to my mother, his family, and me. He taught me life lessons that made me a strong woman and prepared me to take care of myself. I am a lot like him, but seeing what happens when keeping real goes wrong helped me keep those less than favorable personality traits that I inherited from him in check.
He was extremely talented and intelligent. He believed he could do anything that had an instruction manual and a few that didn't. And to be honest I never saw him fail at anything he attempted to do. He was ambitious and a little flossy and knew how to talk business with the business folks and knuckle head with the knuckleheads from the Nickel, the nickname for Fifth Ward, the neighborhood he grew up in. At the same time my dad was troubled. He was a manipulative as he was strong. He often used intimidation and intelligence to bully things out of people.
I honestly think my dad was bi-polar or had some type of mental health issues along with the standard issues one gets growing up the youngest son of an alcoholic. Although my grandfather was a good man, despite his disease. My dad was a reminder that alcoholism is a disease that affects a family in far to many way to measure no matter if the one suffering is a nice drunk or not.
While I loved my dad fiercely, I knew he was shady. I knew he wasn't a model citizen and I spent a few of my adult years visiting him in a federal prison when some of his shadier dealings caught up to him. When my father was young he was very successful insurance salesmen and he and my mother had lots of things, especially for a black couple of their age in those times. There were not a lot of black people in their early twenties driving Benzes and Corvettes and living in two story houses in the south back then. After the divorce he lost his way a bit and ended up with a woman who didn't balance him, as I believe my mother did.
I don't blame my stepmother for that because you are who you are, but my dad needed a woman who would remind him of how he was raised and keep him from the shadier side of the insurance business. My stepmother was not that woman she preferred pretty things and nice houses no matter how the money came to pay for them.
After he got out of prison he spent his life trying to recapture his glory years, trying to remake a fortune he had made and lost twice before. He had lots of health issues, from living hard and fast and I think he was a bit broken when he died. He never got to see my career take off. I had just started what was then just a job, not a career, when he passed. As a matter of fact I was in Kellogg, Idaho working on a project when I got a call from my aunt at the dealership I was consulting at telling me he had passed from a heart attack. His common law wife found him dead by the bed with the phone off the hook. He was talking to his best friend when it happened.
I remember that day clearly, I was sitting in the Parts department cashier booth getting the news from my aunt. I made arrangements to leave the next morning and left the dealership to go to the hotel. I didn't cry right away. I rememeber being in the hotel room talking to my BFF, who at the time was just a new friend I made at work and breaking down because the thing that troubled me the most about his death was if he indeed was going to heaven or Paradise or whatever is for us after we are done here on earth. While I knew I loved my father, I really couldn't say I believed with out a doubt my father was a good man and did the good things that people who go to heaven do. While all dogs go to heaven, we certainly know not all people do. She gave me great advice that day and told me that was all up to God, so I shouldn't worry myself about something I have no control over.
I don't cry often and I almost never cry uncontrollably, but when I got home to Houston and laid in the bed with my ex-husband, who was just a guy who was hounding me to be his girlfriend then, I cried the hardest I have ever cried in my life. I cried right into exhaustion and he held me. As a matter of fact it was in that time where how I viewed my ex-husband changed. He was extremely supportive and a rock for me to lean on. In hindsight I think the loyalty and obligation I felt for him for being there for me in one of my darkest moments in life kept my blinders to our relationship on, but that's a blog for another day.
The one thing I can say on this Father's day about my less than perfect daddy was when he died I KNEW he loved me and I knew he was beyond proud of me. I knew he looked at me as the female version of him and I knew he thought of me as finishing lots of business he never finished and would live life make the better decisions. I never struggle with those kind of daddy issues. He may not have been the most upstanding guy in the world but by me he was the best dad a girl could ever have and because of that I thank God for the lemonade concoction of Charles he gave me.
I learned so many things from him, I learned life is never going be easy, I learned don't be half-assed in anything you do, I learned be honest, I learned there will always be someone who is more than you , prettier, smarter, taller, richer, I learned you can do anything if you put your mind to it, I learned we are all just human and no man is better than any other because we all put our pants on one leg at a time, and a host of other things too numerous to name. It is partly because of him that I am who I am today professionally.
I also learned from watching his life what things really matter and when to zig instead of zag. I learned from his wrong turns and mistakes. I learned how you never know when your life will change for better or worse. I learned to be thankful for every blessing I have ever received and live life right now and enjoy it.
If you are a father the one thing you should do beyond all those things that the world says you need do to be a great dad is let your child KNOW, and when I say know I mean know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that you love him or her. Doing that even makes the children of the most imperfect fathers able to win in this world. Really it's all about love and feeling loved.
I love you daddy and I miss you. To all the those father's out there have a Happy Father's day and to everyone else as always...