When I was a little girl I would run out to meet my Dad when he came home from work to carry his briefcase into the house.
His hugs smelled of tobacco smoke, paint and leather.
He only wore 100% cotton, 2 pocket shirts and maroon ties.
The pockets were filled with pens, pencils and a pair of glasses.
He made charts and graphs for everything......including Friday night dinner.
On the weekends he would paint pictures. He would set up an easel for me and we would paint together all day.
My Dad made a giant dragon out of chicken wire and paper mache for a play I was in.
It seemed to me, if you could dream it..... he could make it.
Sometimes he would drive us to the desert early in the morning. We would watch the sun come up, have a picnic, and paint pictures of the beauty around us.
My Dad encouraged me in everything I did. When I was 9 I started learning to play the violin.
He loved it so much, he got a violin and asked me to teach him how to play. On his very first lesson I gave him a gold star.
He also learned to play the banjo. We would all hear him play "Turkey In The Straw" into the wee hours. Our poor neighbors.
My Dad taught me how to laugh. He loved to share a joke, story or comic strip with me. He would collect comic strips that tickled him, make copies of them, and put them in a book. His funny book.
My Dad taught me to be kind. He hated any kind of prejudice.
My Dad taught me to appreciate life by pointing out how lucky he was. He would wake up in the morning, take a deep breath and say "Ahhhh another beautiful sunny, Southern California day."
The day I stopped trying to be "dark, brooding and interesting" was the day I started to learn this lesson. One of the happiest moments of my life was the day I opened the curtains and my son asked me "Ahhhhh isn't it a beautiful sunny day Momma?" That one's for you Dad.
My Dad taught me what a good man is. He worshiped my Mom, was a gentleman at all times, and would never go anywhere without lots of kisses from Mom.
My Dad went to every school function, was home every night for dinner, walked me down the isle when I got married and told me he knew I would live happily ever after.
My Dad was a tough marine. Yet so sensitive he couldn't finish many stories. There are about 30 stories I never heard the end of because he would get too choked up.
My Dad taught me patience. No matter what crazy hairdo, philosophy or outfit I came up with, he would just look up from his wood carving, smile and say "Well, different strokes for different folks."
I knew my Dad was always on my side, would stick up for me if he thought I'd been wronged, and gently correct me when he thought I was off track.
Teacher, paint chemist, poet, writer, warrior, painter, sculptor, musician and wood carver.
I was lucky enough to be there the last hours of his life. There was a tube down his throat so he couldn't talk. But when we all whispered our goodbyes in his ear, a few tears fell down his cheek. He hung on. Until my Mom, the love of his life, kissed him goodbye. You see, he would never go anywhere without a lot of kisses from my Mom.
That's how he taught me how to say goodbye.