Saturday, June 16, 2012

Father's Day Memories

My father's high school senior photo

With Father’s Day right around the corner, I’ve been thinking about my father, William Dollak, a lot lately.  My daddy, the hero of my life, passed away January 2011 from pancreatic cancer, so this will be the 2nd Father’s Day without him.  Of course, I miss him every day, but when a special day approaches that is a celebration of him, I feel his absence down to my very soul.  I really could go on forever about how much I miss him and the pain his sudden death has left behind, but I want to honor and remember the silly, quirky man that will forever remain in my heart.

My dad was one of those fathers who never failed to make you laugh until your ribs cramped up and your cheeks hurt.  He wasn’t into sophisticated or intellectual humor, although he was nowhere near a dumb, crude hick.  No, he was more like Abbott and Castello with a little Jim Carrey thrown in for good measure!  He wasn’t above a good booger or fart joke, and he had slap stick humor mastered.  Yet, there was always something charming and witty about his jokes, and I never feared taking him anywhere.  He was sensible enough to be behave in public.

I like to think of myself as a unique individual, completely unlike anyone. I must admit, though, that my love of goofy puns and witty sarcasm developed much under his tutelage.  And even though he is gone, I have my crazy sense of humor to carry with me, always a reminder of all the years we spent matching wits and just blowing off steam.  Oftentimes, when a person is still alive we forget or never notice how much they influence our lives.  But once they are gone, it starts to become extremely clear.  I never realized how very alike my father and I were until this past year as I tried to cope with his passing.  It was a difficult journey, one that I never imagined or believed I could endure, but I learned so much about my dad and about myself.

My dad & my son in 2006
My father wasn’t perfect.  No parent is or ever can be.  But as their mistakes and shortcomings fade, we start to truly appreciate their strengths, talents, and gifts.  My dad had a big heart and an even bigger laugh.  He loved to help people and to see the best in others, even when everyone else saw nothing but bad.  Although some people took advantage of his generosity and kindness (seeing it as weakness), I know that he truly cared about others, and he left a lasting mark on some people’s lives because of it.

I hope to pass on his teaching of laughter and love to my own children because the world is in desperate need of more laughter and kindness.  It is my dream to see my dad’s simple legacy continue to live on through me, my children, and then my children’s children.  Even if I never accomplish a single great thing in this life, I hope that my laughter and love will change the world and other’s around me.  In my mind, things like these can cause a ripple effect that could be felt much longer and stronger than fame and fortune could ever bring.

Happy Father’s Day to you all!  Don’t forget to tell the special men in your lives just how much they mean to you.  You never know how much time you have left to express your deepest thoughts and feelings.

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