(How I see my daddy)

As many may or may not know, we lost our father, my daddy September 2021. This is my love letter about him for his Eulogy. These pictures will always remind me of dad. Complex, simple, large than life, loving.

A Love Letter To Daddy From His ‘Little One’

Words can not express enough on how I feel regarding ‘Dad’, or as I always referred to him as ‘Daddy’. For this purpose though, I’ll refer to him mostly as Dad. So, I will try and do the best I can. I’ll start from the beginning sorta, and end at the end, sorta.

I remember since a very young child, his deep, soft, and slow paced voice when he would speak. It would somehow be so soft, you thought it was a whisper, and yet, so loud it would fill a room, yet never lowering, yelling, or raising his voice. At times, even I had to question if he had a monotone voice. The one thing I was clear on, for me it was a calming voice that made me always feel safe, and loved. His sparkling clear blue eyes, as vast as the clearest bright blue waters as his gaze would talk to me, or watch me. His big hearty laugh, that would seemingly fill a room, as much as it filled his chest, and stomach. His large soft hands, as he would hold mine as a child, or hug me throughout life. His extremely protective nature of me, as if I was going to break any minute. His playfulness and quick wit, and curiosity to watch me grow, whether as an infant to young child, all the way as an adult.

Dad loved to cook, and eat. He loved my Grandmama’s cooking (Antoinette’s mom). He always made sure if it was for me, or us and our adventures, it was the best. He would tell stories of his travels. He loved to write, and always kept journals (I would find this out later). He loved museums, and endless art galleries. He loved rock and roll, and on the flip side he loved classical music with complexities and big overtures. He loved to camp, loved to fish, and nature in general, for he thought it was peaceful and inspiring. He loved loved loved the beach. He loved going to the movies. He had guilty pleasures: eating McDonald’s, hot beer, and warm Vodka. He had a huge sweet tooth, loving Dark Chocolates, ice cream, cakes, and pies. If I recall German Chocolate Cake and Tiramisu were his faves. He liked spicy and international. He loved Rustic or Sourdough Breads dipped in oils. He loved big Italian Meats and Cheeses loaded filled sandwiches. He loved loved cheeses in general. All sorts of love of a brilliant meat, cheese, olives, pates, and wursts filled charcuterie boards, and breads, with Pumpernickel, Rye, Sourdough, and Rustic Italian. He especially loved Fondue too. He loved animals, dogs, and especially fish. He loved aquariums, from personal, to zoos. He loved going to pet stores. He loved crafts and art stores. He loved long walks. He loved poetry. He loved all arts, and beauty, particularly all mediums of painting and drawing. Between cooking, painting, and drawing, he found his happiest place to express himself. He found in these ways he was able to separate himself from his life professionally, and his demons. He had some wild in him though, he loved to play cards. Poker was his game. At one point being banned from every legal casino nationwide. I don’t even think it was about the winning or losing money, I think it was about the game, the out witting the table, and his competitive streak. He loved to swim and surf, preferably in the ocean, or a big river. He was built for big flowing currents of water. In his youth, even being a lifeguard. His broad shoulders, broad chest, big back, muscular legs, and  strength, made him perfect for the water and currents. He may have been short in height at 5’9″, yet, he was wide and mighty in strength. He loved adventure. He loved almost all things bold. He loved expansiveness of thought, and how it was applied. He was very calculated and methodical. For the most part, he was pretty fearless. It is also to be noted he was also very sensitive, compassionate, and passionate. Not just grit, cold, ruthless or worse.

Born in Ohio of Joseph and Dorthy, a simple life. Recruited into the military. Married at a young age to a beautiful bride Anna. They would go on to have amazing children. In life things can change. The times themself were changing. He would go on to marry Antoinette, then later I would come.

I would hear stories of his temper, but, with me I had only seen it once, after I was an adult. For we had only gotten in one argument in my lifetime. Even that was very fast, and boom, it just immediately stopped, and was over. There was just instant quietness, and stillness. Incredible control between us. I had heard stories of his quickness on his feet, both figuritively, and physically, yet he was always patient, and calculated with me. 

We were, and are a lot alike. In more ways than one, as people would point out to me throughout my life. I always thought I looked like my mom. Until a few of my friends met him in my 20s. One time we had gone out to Barone’s Pizzaria for dinner… Me, daddy, Grandma, and Kira. Kira who had met my mom several times, sat there and stared at me and dad.  Later that evening, she would go on to say, I always thought you looked like your mom, until tonight. You look, sound, and have the same gestures as your dad. Of course I couldn’t see it, and it made me laugh. In hindsight, especially as I’ve gotten older, I can hear him in my laugh, feel him in some of my expressions or mannerisms, and know I have him in my temper. So, needless to say, I work hard on not ever getting angry. His temper was actually a thing of legend.

It wasn’t until I was in my 20s, that I went to see his mom, my grandma Dorthy aka Dot (I just called her Grandma), that I was going through some paintings, and stumbled across two of his journals, tucked deep amongst the paintings, and drawings, of his, grandma’s, and my other grandpa Fred’s pictures. He wasn’t home, as he would randomly disappear for a couple of days. So, I read the journals, written by him. I simply had to know. I knew and confirmed right then, the stories I heard, weren’t just a myth or legend, they were of the same man I called daddy. Yes, I was that daddy’s girl. I never judged him though for the details of the stories. For I truly didn’t feel it was my place. I would leave that to God.

You see, there was this whole life I knew of with him, the one that loved ice cream, walks, and laughter. Then there was his life professionally, and his demons…as well as, the facts that he really tried to shield me from. I already knew some of them were true, I just didn’t know to what extent and how many.  Like all things about dad, he was very detail oriented, and also very cryptic. So, his writings were written in the same fashion. When I was done, I put them back, right where I found them, and as I found them, for I didn’t want him to know that I had found them, let alone had read them. I had wondered how many he had. They explained a lot about his mannerisms, and actions when it came to me, and life in general. Well, he came back to Grandma’s a couple of days later. He immediately figured out it was me that found, and read his journals. Then, I received this phone call, with what I perceived as an invite to our regular lunch. We did lunch usually once a week, or every couple of weeks, dinner the same. He would try and visit at my home at least once every week or so, if possible.

It wasn’t until we went out to one of his favorite Churasco Brazilian Steak Houses (located in Santa Monica) he even brought it up, I still didn’t know he knew I was the culprit at first. I suppose he had to think about how he wanted to discuss it, and what he was willing to talk about. You see one of the places daddy would love to talk, would be in one of his favorite restaurants. A Churasco Brazilian Steak House, Barone’s Pizzaria, a real Italian food and pizza restaurant, some Chinese food restaurant, or a German food resturant. Yep, that was where and when, he would decide to talk. If I recall,  we’re about to talk (later, I would recall it was this same day), our waiter comes up and asks us how our “date” is going. I would laugh, whereas dad looked instantly agitated. So, I stopped laughing, and immediately corrected the guy. Telling him, ‘this is my dad!’ We placed our order, the poor guy bolted, we wouldn’t even see him again. We were given a new waitress. I think dad’s facial expression scared the poor dude. In hindsight, I was never scared of dad. But, many many were. Yeah, the stories were intense, and throughout life, as I would meet people who knew dad, the stories were true. Just think of the movie Big Fish. That is the best way to describe the stories and dad.

Well, dad didn’t even ask if it was me who found, and read his journals. He told me I did! He didn’t scold me. He wasn’t mad or angry. He simply stated, he kept records and notes all his life, some more detailed and important. All not meant for his daughter. “The world is too dark of a place for you to deal with, that is why he does.” That was all he said. Then we left it at that. Yep, in many ways he was a man of mystery. I knew he spoke something like six or seven languages. I had heard from several, and  including in his journal, in his own account, English, German, Russian, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and I don’t remember the last. I knew he had some other skills that normal people neither have, nor use. We never talked about that either. 

I do also remember him having a look of sadness, or regret, when he went to tell me about life, and his journals. I also felt it when I read parts of his journal. I knew he had regrets, and shames. I also knew he had a huge heart filled with love, to give, and receive. He was a often misunderstood man, often feared. But, he was also a true contradiction, a true dichotomy, complex, yet simple, soft and gentle, yet feared, and a larger than life teddybear. To me he was, and will always be my daddy.

Yeah, his story and his details are far more vast than what I’ve written here. Some great, some good, some ok, some bad, and some horrific.

However, the only thing that ever mattered to me was, and will always be, daddy, and he loved me, and always will, and I loved him with all my heart, and always will love him. I will forever carry him in my heart, therefore he will always be with me.

I love you daddy, forever and a day.

(How I see my daddy now)