You should’ve been 54 years old today. Not really that old, life being the way it is nowadays. You’d probably have spent the day working on your truck, or your store, as you had the last 30+ years. It’s Monday, so we would’ve celebrated last night; a small family barbeque, grilling up some steaks, maybe corn and potatoes to go with. You’d have had a few beers; Becky and Daniel and maybe Shawn too. Dakota and I would’ve stuck with soda; beer isn’t really our thing.
No TV; the stereo would be blaring Journey, or maybe some old U2; Santa Esmerelda would definitely have made an appearance. That’d be the night; good family, good music, good talk. Stories of all the silly, sometimes stupid, things we’d done as kids. A little bit of talk of the future; but probably not much. Just hanging out; enjoying each other’s company.
God, I miss those nights. Last night should have been just one of many more to come, but you’ve been gone a year and a half now. That loss feels nearly as raw now as it did when you passed away, and so I’m sitting crying at a car wash, writing you this letter.
All those stories of us as children, but to this day I don’t know much about your life before Becky was born. I know you worked from an early age, and that you were in the Marines, and I think you and Mom were married in Puerto Rico, but that’s it. I wish I’d asked when I had the chance. I wish I’d spent more of those nights hanging out with you, listening to your music. I wish I’d spent more days helping you at your store, or smeared with grease helping you out with your truck. I wish I’d not skipped family trips as I got older; I wish I’d gone to the family reunion. I wish I’d spent more time with you.
I’m sorry I went off and did my own thing so many times. I’m so very sorry I wasn’t there for you more while you were sick.
I’m getting married soon; I finally proposed to Jackie on her birthday last year. The date’s set for October 14th; there’s nothing special about the date (yet), it’s just a good time for it. We’ll have been together for 5 and a half years at that point. I know you liked her a lot, and it’s comforting to know that you’d approve of this.
Becky’s doing well too; she and Eric moved to a small town in Northern California that they love, at least when it stops raining. You have a new grand-daughter; Emma Rose Moses was born on April 1st last year. I haven’t gotten to spend enough time with her to know her yet, but just listening over the phone she sounds great. A bit better behaved than her sister, and so eager to catch up with your namesake. Kenna sounds like a cute little snot nowadays, but isn’t that what little girls are supposed to be like? They’re both slated to be flower-girls in my and Jackie’s wedding, and Becky a bridesmaid.
Daniel and Shawn are groomsmen, along with Dakota. I worry a bit about Daniel and Shawn; they could use having you around more than Becky and I. Daniel’s a bit self-destructive lately (well, more than usual), and Shawn’s still trying to find himself. They’ll both get along fine, and get to where they belong, I’m just afraid the trip will be harder than it has to be.
Daniel has 3 ‘79 Ford Trucks now, he’s nuts. One day he’s planning on making them into one perfect truck. I applaud the effort, and wish him luck in it, but it won’t be your truck. It’ll be his, and that’s cool. I’ll miss your truck, but it’s better than letting it fade away.
Shawn thrashed his Ranger, but that’s what we’ve all done. Daniel thrashed his Honda, I thrashed my Mazda, and Becky thrashed her Mustang. Shawn went and bought himself a brand-new F-150, and that fits the pattern too. He’s just working on an accelerated schedule. I’ll bet Dakota will get Daniel’s Ranger when he’s old enough, and I’m sure he’ll thrash it too.
I worry about Dakota most of all. He’s 11 now, living with his mom. That’s a good thing; he and Frida should be together. I know you wanted it that way. Daniel and Danielle shouldn’t have been responsible for him so early; a child is a difficult burden. They should be able to live their lives. That said, if he ever wants to live with me; I’ll take him in a heartbeat. Jackie and I will find some way to make things work if that ever happens.
But he needs you, Dad. He still has so much growing up to do, and there just isn’t anyone else out there as well qualified to show him how. There’s no role model good enough, certainly not me. I learned a lot from you, but I’m not ready yet.
Thank you Dad, for teaching me what it is to be a good person, and for being an incredible father. I hope to measure up to that standard one day, but I don’t yet. I’m too selfish.
I love you Dad, I don’t think I realized how much until you were gone. A year and a half now, and I miss you as much today as I did back then.
P.S. - I bought a motorcycle. Sorry.