This is the family in which I grew up. Me, my mom, my dad, and my sister Gwen.
Until 2001, September 11 meant my dad’s birthday. Though he had passed away in 1998 I still, of course, thought of him on that date every year.
I’m told I’m a lot like my dad, which is a compliment in my opinion. He was friendly and successful, well-respected, highly intelligent, and funny. He had a strong set of values from which he rarely strayed – and then, only with a very good reason. He taught me, more than anyone, about life, dealing with other people, politics, and morality. Though most of my memories were wiped away by my stroke, I do know these things. And even though I’m nearly the age he was when he died, I still think, “Daddy would love this!” or “This would crack Daddy up!” or, most of all, “Daddy would love Pete!”
Later in his life Daddy married Bev and created a new family. I still miss them, and her especially, but love them very much. His life changed a lot after this and he did a lot of things he’d never done before, ate foods he’d previously claimed to dislike (Bev was a great cook!), and spent a lot more time with the family. With her he discovered a passion for camping which they enjoyed together. She made him very happy!
So happy birthday, Daddy! You are still loved, and still missed!
The morning of September 11, 2001 I was standing at the kitchen sink, sobbing, because I missed my dad so much. Pete had just gotten home from taking Casey to school. Then Gwen called and told me to turn on the TV. Pete went back to the school to get Casey because I needed her with me – I needed our little family all home, together, and safe. We were glued to the TV… The only actual memory I have of that day, though I know the facts of it, was standing at the kitchen sink, ugly-crying.
What happened on what they now refer to as Patriot Day didn’t detract from my grief; it only added more sorrow on top. To this day it is difficult for both reasons equally. My dad was a HUGE patriot, who loved his country without reserve. One of his great regrets – if not THE greatest – was that he couldn’t serve due to a physical issue. Had he been alive in 2001, the events of that day would have broken his heart.
Perhaps the thing my dad loved most was dogs. He had a lifelong passion for dogs. And every March for over 20 years my dad and I would go to the AKC dog show – the largest benched show in the country at that time – at Cobo Hall in Detroit. It was our one day together every year and the other 364 days I looked forward to it. During those days every conversation was about dogs, the dogs he’d worked with, the dogs he’d helped, the people who turned to him to solve their problems with their dogs and how he accomplished each one, the dogs he liked best and the dogs he hoped to someday have. (He would have loved Maisie, by the way!) We took our program first thing in the morning and chose the rings we’d visit each time, visited ALL of the benches, talked with breeders, and tried to pick the Best In Show throughout the day. One year we were right, too! It was an airedale, who, my dad said many times that day, went into that ring and showed that he deserved it! The only other specific comment I recall out of the thousands is one year he referred to the Bedlington Terriers as “those stupid sheep” and we both laughed. Then, and every year to follow…
September 11 is a complicated and difficult day for me. And both reasons, without the specific memories to keep them separated, have become entwined over time. So many have reason to grieve on this date. These are mine.