Tomorrow morning my youngest sister is dropping me off at the bus station, where my 24 hour trip to California begins. I’ll be in California for 30 hours, and then spend another 24 coming back. Sleep? When? Excited is just the beginning of how I feel about this trip…
When my Dad passed away in 2006, I knew nothing would ever be the same. A vital part of my heritage was gone in a blink of an eye. The first years worth of holidays were nothing more than reminders of everything missing in my life. I struggled through them, along with my Mom and sister. We smiled, laughed, cried, and forged ahead. To say it has become easier, would be a lie. It’s not easier, even after all this time… it’s just different.
We’ve learned to be, without him. We have welcomed new people into our lives, including my Step-dad and brother in law. Each of them brought families of their own into the mix. Their own history and tradition… their own struggle and pain. Three Thanksgivings ago we celebrated with my handsome nephew, and this year my niece joined us at the table.
There is so much to be thankful for in my life. I don’t know if my relationship with my Mom and sister would be so solid, if it weren’t for the three of us banding together after Dad died. Who is to say my sister would have still meet her husband and had her two beautiful babies? As much as I miss his physical presence in our daily lives, I am thankful for the legacy he has left behind.
He wasn’t a traditional man. He lived his life according to a deeply personal code of conduct that revolved around his relationship with God. We moved frequently as children, and often times celebrated the holidays at home, just the four of us. He taught us to cherish what existed in near proximity, to not get caught up in the commercial trappings of the holidays… and that sometimes, nachos and pizza for Christmas dinner is OK.
These things have carried on with us in the past 5 years. For Thanksgiving we celebrated with flat iron steak, french fries, and a fruit platter among other more traditional dishes. After eating we took pictures in the leaf covered yard, and then left the kids with Grandma to go start a new tradition.
My Step-dad drove us up into the hills, and we learned to shoot a 22. Neither my sister or I had ever shot a gun of any sort. Our Dad was a quiet, indoor sort of man whose love of books prevailed over all other pursuits of passions. My Ste-dad on the other hand is a more of an outdoors type.
How blessed are we to have been able to learn from two such wonderful men? I can tell you, squeezing the trigger of a gun was something I had never expected to do. Ever. I did, though. I even enjoyed it. Next year we will do the same thing…