Yesterday was one of my favorite days of every Christmas season:
Tammy and Dad Go Christmas Shopping!!! (i.e. Tammy prints and tracks stepmother's Christmas list, coordinates with other siblings as to what has been bought or spoken for, and guides Dad towards the remaining items...but THEN Tammy and Dad get lunch or dinner or ice cream.)
My dad left the house when I was 2, so I don't have any actual memories of him living at home with me. I did go and stay with him and my stepmother on many weekends, and I always had my own room at their house. He went on to have three more children (who are the best brothers and sisters ever), and I'd be lying if I said I wasn't a little bit jealous of them getting to grow up in the same house with their mom and dad. However, as a positive flip side of that, I have always recognized Tammy/Dad time as special time. He's a pretty quiet guy and we're a pretty loud bunch, so it's always a treat when I can meet him alone for lunch or shopping and we can catch up with one another. Usually, I start by telling him what's going on in my life superficially, and he nods and smiles absently. I'll run some things by him that I'm thinking or feeling, and he listens, but he never offers advice. I find this to be a very rare and refreshing trait. Sometimes through telling him one story, he'll share a story of his own that is usually completely random but sometimes stops me dead in my tracks. I'm not always sure what the connection was in his head that made him share a particular story, but I don't care. I just love hearing about his life and his memories. Another thing about my dad is that he's not really one to say 'Hey Tam, I love you' (although he says it on the phone always), or 'You did that? I'm so proud of you!' However, I have a very solid knowledge of his pride in me thanks to his little random stories. Here's an example:
Yesterday we were talking about college while wandering around Target (two of my siblings are still in school), and this conversation happened:
Dad (absently): I was looking all of yours the other day...they're under my desk calender..
Me: All of my what, Dad?
Dad: Your grades, and letters, and awards.
Me (flabbergasted): You have those? You kept those?
Dad (like it ain't no thang): Of course!
(literally just paused while writing this to go to the bathroom and mini-sob...)
Another thing he does is when I leave his house, he always walks me out to my car so we can chat for a couple of minutes. Then, when I leave and drive down the driveway (which is ridiculously long) he stands there, hands in his pockets, perfectly still and watching me drive away. I've never seen him move before I turned onto the road, no matter how cold or rainy it is.
(annnnnnnnd I'm crying again)
So anyway, after the shopping portion of our date yesterday, we went for ice cream. He looked at me out of nowhere and said 'hey...this is why I do this, this is my favorite part. The lunch or ice cream or whatever with you'. Ugh...the cutest. Then he asked me if I had ever heard of Guitar Center, and if it was close. Somehow, as a lifelong musician, he had never been!
Of course I said we should go right then, and oh. my. god. was he happy. Just gazing up at the walls of guitars in wonder. Never mind when the associate came over and handed him a cable and said 'the amps are all plugged in, grab whatever you want off the wall and knock yourself out!' Knock himself out he did...he tried a bass violin, a 5-string bass, a 6-string bass and a 12-string acoustic. Just sat on a stool and was completely oblivious to the world around him (including me, the sneaky paparazzi).
We finally left, but only because we were on a schedule (he would have stayed for days). When I dropped him off at his truck, he proclaimed that he had '12 string fever' and couldn't wait to take his brothers from Canada there when they next came to visit.
That man, who I love and admire and respect so very much, makes me smile.