TWELVE YEARS. It’s been twelve years since my dad died. It seems like forever since we last spoke and yet sometimes it still feels like yesterday that we lost him. Dad lived in New York and I live in Florida, and when he was diagnosed with Stage 4 Colon Cancer I got up to see him as often as I could. But those visits were so strained because of the elephant in the room: each time we said goodbye we knew it could be forever.
As Dad got sicker, I realized I was waiting for him to say something like, “I’ve fought the good fight and I’m going to enjoy my last days with my fishing pole and a good book,” but Dad fought till the very end. After he died, oh how I wished he had gone down to his condo in Florida so we could have had some downtime and an opportunity to talk, but he really wasn’t much for small talk.
Looking back now, I realize the timing of my divorce, which was finalized just six months before Dad died, was a blessing in that it gave us something to talk about other than his cancer. Dad had a seemingly endless supply of financial and life advice, and I think he enjoyed talking about the home I was purchasing, work, family, parenting, and practical matters.
When I think of Dad now, that’s what I remember most: his practicality and advice, and how he cared for his family. Dad gave me a book called “The Millionaire Next Door” when I was a teenager. It wasn’t exactly a fun read but it described how anyone could become a millionaire by living within their means, saving and investing. As it turns out, that book was also a huge blessing because I can remember so many conversations and lessons that sprung from those pages. I was shocked when Dad told me he could pay for a new car in full- just write a check anytime he wanted to- but he chose to save and invest so that he could put his daughters through college. And he did, two girls with Bachelor’s Degrees and no student loans! (Thank you, Dad!)
Looking back, we never went without but we always lived frugally. I have fond memories of Dad’s white Volvo. She was such a part of the family that we called her Josephine, and she was with us for well over 200,000 miles despite having no Reverse for at least the last year till she finally gave out. Dad did a lot of creative parking that year, and thankfully our driveway had such a steep slope that he could roll out of the driveway in neutral.
Tonight I’m missing my Dad and celebrating what a wonderful, kind and caring man he was. I am so thankful to have so many happy memories, and I’m thanking God for all the good years we had together.