For the first time since my dad died in 2013, his birthday falls on a Wednesday. To say I’m obsessed with anything but his memory today would be absurd.
I’m grateful to have an understanding boss and team so I could work from home and sort my feelings away from a cubicle. I had plenty of meetings to keep my mind occupied, but it inevitably drifted many times today to how he would be celebrating.
Slick Rick was larger than life in many ways. He was not the most patient or affectionate father, but the values he instilled in us were exactly what we needed (even if we didn’t know it then). My brother and I inherited his work ethic, commitment to community, quick temper and affinity for wrestling. Our mom loved him throughout 33 years of marriage and countless ups and downs.
Dad’s stroke in 1995 changed our world overnight. He wasn’t expected to live, let alone recover. He took that prognosis head-on and regained his ability to talk, walk, write and drive — while being permanently paralyzed on his dominant right side.
Growing up with a handicapped father taught me a lot about how cruel the world can be and how much life can change in an instant. We didn’t always get along, but I’ve lived every day of adulthood trying to make him proud and see the result of his parental guidance.
It hasn’t gotten easier to keep his memory alive these past 5.5 years but I’ll keep honoring him in big and small ways as long as I can.
143 always, Big Guy ❤️
At my brother’s wedding, November 2012
Better late than never, right? I’m nothing if not great on a deadline, so let’s get right to it.
- Dad’s Birthday: I’ve learned in the last 4.5 years without my dad that the milestones and anniversaries don’t get any easier. Instead, they become this new normal you adjust to, and you find ways to get some semblance of peace among the pain. I raised a few glasses to Slick Rick last night, on what would have been his 68th birthday. Cheers and 143 always, Dad.
- St. Paddy’s Day: In true Irish form, we mourn a loss the same way we celebrate. This year, I’ll be at a wedding, but I have no doubt it’ll be a holiday to remember. It doesn’t matter how old I get, I still love spending St. Paddy’s with good friends, good music and good beer. Slainte!
- Minneapolis: The wedding I’m attending is in the fair metropolis of Minneapolis, which I’m excited to explore for the very first time. The weather forecast isn’t ideal, but there are tons of breweries and local (inside!) hot spots to hit. If nothing else, this giant cherry and spoon sculpture is bound to give me some fascinating photos.
- “Meet Me in the Middle” – Zedd, Maren Morris + Grey: This earworm has been in my head nonstop for a few weeks now. If you recognize it from the Target commercials, you can blame them instead of me. (Fun fact: Target’s HQ is in Minneapolis!) Maren Morris’s voice is killer, and the hook gets me every damn time. I’m losing my mind just a little… if that doesn’t sum it all up, I don’t know what does.
As you already know, my family has been at the forefront of my mind while Hurricane Irma whipped her way across the state. On top of that, September brings a slew of family birthdays (we’re already through three of the five!), and today itself marks four years since my dad’s death. Oh, and I’m due to be back in Florida next week to celebrate a friend’s birthday and cancer-free diagnosis with a cruise around the Keys and Cozumel.
Shall I state the obvious? My emotions are on overdrive. I’m exhausted, while ever-grateful for the people who’ve shown constant love, support and thoughtfulness. Particularly today, as I think about the four years we’ve had without my dad, I am humbled by outreach from others.
I don’t always post or share how I’m feeling about that loss. It’s not because I’ve forgotten or because I’m “over it” or because I’m not hurting. Quite the opposite. I think about him multiple times a day and fear I’ll always be hurting. And oh, how I hate people to feel sorry for me.
Just this morning, I struggled with the way someone responded to my mom’s sentiments about my dad. We’re told there’s nothing wrong you can say when someone is grieving, but in the past four years, I’ve learned there are absolutely insensitive and thoughtless comments, which turn my grief into anger and take my energy away from what’s important.
And what’s important, to me, is reflecting on the many years we had him here. Looking back through our shared emails, texts and Facebook posts. Doing what Slick Rick loved to do: Cracking open a cold beer and watching The Weather Channel (because he loved it, with or without a hurricane to track). Listening to golden oldies and complaining about kids today. Typing in ALL CAPS and caring for others any way I can.
This beer and post are for you, Big Guy. I hope you’re getting a kick out of watching over us each day.
Images courtesy of family archives
If you’ve read Wittyburg since the very beginning, you know I used to have a lot more to say beyond these Weekly Obsessions. And I love these WOs — more than I ever expected I would. But I lost my way three years ago, when my dad died and I had trouble finding inspiration beyond weekly posts. Hell, I had trouble getting out of bed.
All that to say, I’m so appreciative of those who’ve stuck with me, checking in each week. I absolutely hope to bring you more varied content soon … and I want you to hold me to it this time!
This week’s obsessions are focused on my dad, as we honored his angelversary yesterday. 3 years doesn’t feel like long in the grand scheme of things, but a thousand days without hearing his voice have truly taken a toll. Combine that with an ER trip for my older niece — she’ll be OK, thank God — and yesterday sure was a doozy.
- “M*A*S*H”: There is no other show to evoke memories of my dad than this. He watched reruns religiously, we bought him the boxed sets of DVDs over the years, and I can’t hear the theme song without immediately thinking of him. Even now, if I’m mindlessly flipping through channels, I’ll land on a rerun to follow Hawkeye and crew.
- Boy Scouts of America: My dad donated countless hours to various organizations, but the BSA held a particularly special place in his heart. From helping Brother’s troop to eventually becoming Scoutmaster, dedicating summers and weekends to Camp La-No-Che in Central Florida, and selling popcorn like no other, Mr. Rick lived its mission to the fullest — scout’s honor.
- Brother’s Birthday: I’m such a selfless little sister, aren’t I? Dad wouldn’t be who he was without his first-born, who turns 33 on Friday. Despite spending our tumultuous childhoods tormenting each other, Brother has since become one of my best friends, closest confidants and biggest supporters. 143, Bud.
- “Lookin’ Out My Back Door” – Creedence Clearwater Revival: CCR is so quintessential Slick Rick, without a doubt. Among the songs we chose to play for his services, this one lifts me to another place, puts a smile on our faces, and reminds us of all the good times we had with him.
We now bring you back to your regularly scheduled Wittyburg program 😉 In all seriousness, thanks to those of you who took the time to read my ramblings yesterday. I don’t make as much time as I should to change up the content here, but it’s always nice to hear your feedback and suggestions!
- Magz’s Birthday: My favorite mama celebrated her birthday Monday (and all weekend long) with family and friends at the happiest place on Earth. We had a nice little phone date, and I know she’s already feeling great at 50-something 😉 Cheers to you, Magz!
- Lake Tahoe: I was fortunate to have Labor Day Weekend plans with a dear friend who lives near Sacramento but — then! — our mutual friends invited us camping in Lake Tahoe so we jumped at the chance to join. The views were simply breathtaking and well worth the drive.
- Remembering Slick Rick: Sunday marks two years since my dad’s death, which I can and can’t believe. Time doesn’t necessarily heal all wounds, but it certainly offers perspective as we experience more milestones without him. Raising a glass to you, big guy.
- “Dreams” – Life of Dillon: This trio of dudes’ debut album is sure to soar, and I’m calling this single out as the next big thing. The hook is so damn catchy, especially with the killer quote “If your dreams don’t scare you, they’re not big enough.”
Images courtesy of: Mah iPhonex3, Genius
Who couldn’t use a little mid-day pick-me-up? Many thanks to WordPress technology for this unintentional glitch 😀
- “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon”: My friend Jess scored tickets to tonight’s taping, and I couldn’t be more excited for her friendship and good fortune. I also couldn’t care less about Shailene Woodley, but I’ll take it.
- SleepCycle: This handy little app came highly recommended, because I’m regularly restless and then oversleep. It tracks your movement, gauges your quality of sleep and provides a million useful stats — well worth the 99-cent price tag.
- “The Weight of Lies” – The Avett Brothers: Another gem from Pandora, I can’t get enough of this North Carolina trio’s crooning. Perfect for a rainy day, as the forecast predicts.
- Slick Rick’s Birthday: Tomorrow is my dad’s birthday and also marks six months since his death. I can’t even begin to express my range of emotions, but I plan to celebrate his life with some of his favorite things. Miss you every day, big guy.
Inspired by the #tbt trend on Instagram, this new series will revisit an old favorite from years past on a (hopefully) weekly basis. You’re welcome.
This week’s throwback is a straight-up repost from a (now defunct) blog I kept during my high school and early college years.
I wrote this eight years ago, and I remember crying my eyes out as I tapped away in the library. It’s eerie looking back at my writing style and most personal thoughts, but I hope it’ll give you some insight to my childhood — and how Dad’s cancer diagnosis this year made our family even stronger:
Have you ever had something change the rest of your life forever? I mean, it honestly affected every single day for the rest of your life?
I’ve got to stop blaming him for his memory loss, for never throwing a ball with me or shooting hoops. I’ve got to forgive him for not knowing who I was when Adam and I visited him every afternoon in the hospital. I’ve got to let go of the fact that he will never be the daddy I once knew, the one that smiled a lot and even joked back with us.
It’s not his fault that it happened. It’s not God’s fault either. It’s time for me to grow up already, and forget about pushing the blame on someone or something.
No one could have predicted that my mom would roll over one morning and find him, lifeless and forever changed. No one could have accounted for causing him to walk with a limp, to be paralyzed on one side, and to have a bitter, pessimistic outlook on life.
Ten years of blaming, hating and accusing has gotten us nowhere. I feel selfish for assuming that he would have recovered, no problem. He shouldn’t be broken. He should be better. But it’s out of our control and he needs me to know [sic] that I accept him.
I can’t believe how long it’s taken me to come to this realization. And yet, I already feel like a huge weight has been lifted off of my heart and my mind.
Appreciate your loved ones, for you never know — one day, they may disappear forever
2013 update: My dad remains one of the most resilient men I’ve ever met. His strength is awe-inspiring, and I’m thankful every day for how much our relationship has grown in the past few years.
My parents spent their 33rd anniversary at the hospital this June. Dad’s receiving treatments at a rehab center on this, the 18th anniversary of his stroke. I love you, Slick Rick … keep fighting the good fight!