Even though he's been dead for over 10 years now, there are things I see nearly every day that remind me of him - old cars, 18 wheelers, Texas Longhorns football games...
I wish my Dad was still here. Not just because he was my Dad and I loved him, but so he could see my wife, my two little girls, and my grand children - so we could have one more beer together and maybe go fishing one last time. I wish he could see all my sisters' grand kids and my brother Adam's new wife and his soon-to-be-born baby girl.
Dad would like that. A lot.
Most of all I wish Dad was still here because he was, well, "Dad".
He was a damned good man.
And a damned good Dad.
Here's a story I wrote a few years ago that I post every June 5th, the day my Dad died.
Then call your Dad.
And tell him how much you love him.
It'll make him happy.
And it'll make you feel good too.
Today's story is very personal. If you came looking for teh funnay, I can't bring it today. Having said that, I think many of you will relate to what I am gonna write about.
10 Years Ago Today
June 5, 2004 was just another day at the Dumbass Dome. So I thought.
|Dad, Debbie, Adam & Sara, c. 1996|
I was doing the normal routine - having a beer for breakfast, smokin' a fatty and getting tuned up for work. I was walking past the front door of my house when I saw a black Toyota zoom into my drive way. It was my sister, Cheryl. From Dallas. 100 miles away from where I lived.
Instinct told me that something was wrong.
My Dad had died.
He was 65 years old. Much too young to meet his Maker.
He had been in the hospital for some tests, but I had no idea whatsoever that his condition was life-threatening.
Dad could not have just died. I saw him a couple of days before as he and his wife, Debbie, drove by my house on the way to theirs. I lived about a half-mile down the road, so I used to see Dad and Debbie drive by all the time. He looked OK, if not a bit skinny (for him). We chatted for a second or two and I told him, "I love you, Dad'.
That was the last time I saw my Dad alive.
Those were the last words he heard me say.
Cecil Shoemaker, Sr., October 6, 1938 - June 5, 2004, was Dad to five kids - me and my two sisters he had with my Mom and a brother and sister he had with my Step Mom, Debbie. Dad was a Country Boy from Troup, Texas. He was a truck driver (CB Handle - "Gunslinger". Dad loved Western movies, especially John Wayne) for over 40 years and countless millions of miles. A simple man who worked hard for everything he got.
He was tough as nails and soft as cotton at the same time. Contradictory? Maybe, but that was the way he was. An enigma. I must say here, however, that the "soft as cotton" side of my Father came a bit later in life. He'd agree with that, I'm sure.
On my birthday one year, I coaxed Dad into going fishing at Joe Poole Lake near Dallas. We were having a few beers and chunkin' spinner baits along side a tree line in the water and BAM! I had one! It turned out to be a largemouth bass weighing about four pounds. Dad was at the back of the boat smiling like he'd just won the lottery. You know, I think at that moment he felt like he'd just become an instant millionaire. I was somewhere in my 30s when this all took place, but there was something in Dad's eyes that said he was watching his little boy land his first fish. You know what? I was that little boy landing that first fish. A flood of memories of fishing stock ponds in East Texas when I was a small child inundated my mind. Instead of being in my boat on a big ass lake near one of the nation's largest cities, there we were - Dad, me, Grandma, Grandpa, my sisters and my Mom - catching crappie on cane poles at my Uncle Walter's place in Betty, Texas. Dad was beaming like I had just become a BASSMasters Champion. Like I was a little boy again. And for a split second, he was "Daddy" and I was five years old.
I shall never forget that moment.
You Never Know
Nobody was expecting Dad to die that day ten years ago, but he did and we can't put sand back into the hourglass, so we all had to adjust to life without him. We have adjusted I suppose, but there are still times when I run into a situation and automatically think to myself, "I'll call Dad! He knows what to do!"
Then reality sets in as quick as a hiccup.
I write this today, not only to remember my Dad, but to remind you of yours. If he's still alive, call him once in a while. Have a beer with him. Take him fishin'.
Most of all, tell him that you love him.
It may be the last words he ever hears from you.
I love you, Dad.