|Michelle, me, dad & baby Honey|
"I used to joke that you could probably give my dad the street name and local plants growing nearby and he could tell you exactly how to get home from where you were based on that. The truth is, my dad was good for a lot of things: tractor rides, good hugs, sound advice ... and if you ever needed a scary-looking guy standing beside you." - I wrote that down more than a year ago. They were words I wanted to say about my dad when he passed away ... but I didn't say them during his memorial. I couldn't and it was probably for the best because no words were really necessary after his friend, Rick (I love Mr. Nezzie), did.
It's been a year since he passed now though, a year today...
I'm not going to write about our last conversation even though I could - I remember it so distinctly even though I've tried not to by not really writing it down or talking about it.
|dad, Sadie & Kyleigh|
I'm not going to go into all the times I've forgotten he's gone, looked for him waving to me from the bathroom window or wondered when he'd slip out during a gathering to try to sneak food.
There are lots of sad things I could write about, but I'm going to try not to...
Instead I'm going to try to lay out things I was lucky to have, even though they are lots of things I'll never find again in anybody else... And, please don't confuse the following - I'm not saying this is who my dad was. I'm just saying this is who my dad was to me...
|dad and his 1969 Camaro convertible|
When I was very little (and even when I was not so little) and sleepy or sick, my dad would rub my ear lobe - back and forth, big calloused fingers so soft on my ear. I'm not sure if this is why I pulled on my ear in my sleep or if I did that first and then he started the rubbing, but to this day one ear is bigger than the other and it's the one I pulled on/my dad rubbed.
Goldens - granted Sunshine was BOTH my parents' first baby, but I will forever need a Golden in my life since one has been there for every moment.
My dad did landscaping for a very long time and I can remember the way he would sketch out the way things would grow - he didn't just think about what would look good in the moment, but how things would grow, when different plants/shrubs/trees would bloom and what kind of care would be necessary.
He had strange collections. He always had good taste, don't get me wrong, but my dad had straight up collections of some very random things - clocks of any size, chairs (even if they weren't whole - missing legs, backs, rods, etc), oil lamps, jars of coins, binoculars (in hindsight, we had a lot of pairs of binoculars than most people, I think), clamps, shovels of various shapes & sizes (and they each had a purpose, I'm sure), etc.
On one of my first rescue missions, a hoarder's house, I was so desperate to get cats out that I was handing them out to just about anyone willing to take them... One place was not so great and when I went to get the cat back, they refused - they sent me awful, awful emails and said I'd never get the cat back. Teen-aged me headed over to their address ... with my dad. A guy answered the door, looked down at me and, loosely held a not so nicely barking Doberman, he told me to go away. My dad stepped up behind me, put his hand on the door (so they guy couldn't shut it) and said, "Dobermans. Nice dogs. We've had them." Then something to the extent of, "We've called the police. They're not on your side. Now where's my daughter's cat?" I don't think I would have gotten that cat back if anyone else was with me.
|Unk, Uncle Dick & dad on Thanksgiving|
The man gave really good hugs - I mean, really good hugs - big, warm hugs with sometimes a little shake, extra squeeze, pat on the back or a little back rub thrown in at the end.
I always felt my dad was really generous - like at the very fiber of who he was, he was generous with his time and attention.
I know I mentioned this above, but the drink mixing thing. I don't know why that's so distinct in my mind, but it is - just mixing away.
My middle name it Lyn, my sister's is Marie, my dad's mom's name was Marilyn - I always thought that was a really neat, really creative way to indirectly honor his mom with both of us and another way to forever connect my sister and I equally to one another and to her.
Obviously with his giant-ness, he was one of the best for throwing you up in the air in the pool.
Back in the days before Facebook, you'd just get these weekly emails of dogs that would either be saved or killed. One of my first dog rescues I did was a transport up from Georgia. A dog I had been emailed about no one else was stepping up for, so I did. Well, the transport was running late - really late - a whole day late! The dog's transport was no longer arriving early Saturday, but Sunday ... right in the middle of a friend's wedding. My dad and I left in between the wedding ceremony and the reception to go pick the dog up.
My dad always reminded me of a bear up against a tree when he'd scratch his back on the corner of a wall.
Although my dad had a very "I'm doing it and I don't care what you think about it" attitude, he also had a very deep rooted sense of what was right and wrong. He had strong opinions, but they were often hard to argue with because they weren't just based on "because I said so" or "that's just how I feel", he had sound reasons behind them. He was a meticulous guy, even in his opinions.
It takes some time to pull the memory sometimes, but I can close my eyes and see all the outlined tools - different hammers, saws, wrenches, etc - on the basement wall and the garage wall. Everything had a place ... even if that place was a old glass jar filled with similar knots, bolts or screws.
|Heather, dad & me|
He may not have always been patient, he may not have walked me through every step to teach me, but my dad never left me out - if there was a project, I was going to be there even if it was just to hand him a nail when he needed it or pick up the big sticks/twigs around the property so he could rake.
Speaking of that, there was never any shame in calling my dad or guilt trips when he picked me up no matter what time it was or where it was. He'd show up. I hope he knew I knew (and appreciated) how reliable he was...
I know there's a logical pattern that's best to cut grass and how you can down-shift the gears in your car to slow down if all else fails because of my dad.
|mom & dad|
I remember painting the little sitting room in the Pittsgrove house a light blue with him. He was done work and I had skipped class - it was just us, alone, talking and making that house a little bit better.
When we moved to the Pittsgrove property, we had two ducks of a mystery age - dad loved them! One winter we had not seen one for awhile and we finally spotted them with our binoculars on the island. The lake was frozen and I will never forget my dad wrapping a rope around a tree and the other end to himself. All I could think was "I know the reasoning behind this, but, dad, you're huge. I don't know how I'm reeling you in if you fall through!" Thankfully, he didn't! He walked out across the ice and checked on the duck.
If anyone has a Doug Wesh story or even just a characteristic you saw in him & miss, please send them to firstname.lastname@example.org I'm going to compile them, so please share.
|my college graduation|
“If only given
four words to say they would be
Thanks For Loving Me.”
— Daily Haiku on Love by Tyler Knott Gregson