For my Father
My Dad said he always wanted to write. He had the personality of a writer, silent, observing, full of wisdom and courage.
I'm lost at how to properly write about my Father. How can I possibly summarize his nearly 70 years of life in a few words?
There are the major points.
He was a minister for the Salvation Army, dedicating his life to God and Charity while living in near poverty for 20 years. He was compassionate and never judgmental.
He was married to my Mother for 51 years, he had three children.
He was my primary care taker when I was a child. He took me to the library, the park, to college with him when he attended.
He had an amazing golf swing.
People could sense authority and kindness in his spirit. Even the meanest kid in my third grade class, Chuckie, sought out my Dad when he got lost on a school field trip to a museum. We couldn't really go anywhere in public without people coming up to him. Sometimes the people were crazy, and sometimes they needed help. Sometimes they just wanted to make him laugh.
He knew just how to answer vanity questions like "Daddy, What's my IQ?" "Well," he said "Yours is about what mine is."
He was a silent helper, never a complainer, rarely taking credit for what he did. He helped me when I was a Nineteen when I thought my life was over at the end of a tumultuous relationship with an ill-fated artist. He stood quietly while I moved my belongings into his truck, crossing his arms when I started screaming, and held me when I cried later.
He went to every football game I marched in, and attended every band concert he could. He did right by me, going down to the Elementary School just to inform my Kindergarten Teacher she was in error about me not being able to tie my shoes, and how she ought change that perception for her records.
He had a special way about him that made people talk and open up about themselves.
He was kind.
He bought my first groceries when I moved 3 hours away to go to college. He was so proud to give me whatever he could, even if it was the shirt from his back. I'd like to selfishly believe he was that way because I was his daughter, but he'd have done that for anyone.
He struggled intensely with the mental illness that struck him at 42. I don't want that to define him though. He was still a person, still my Father, even with his suffering. Even so he'd tell me later how lucky he was to have roomed with both Jesus Christ and Napoleon during his penthouse suite stay at the hospital.
People liked him because he was charming. He and I shared a Professor at a local Community College although that sharing was separated by twenty years. The Professor called out the last day of class to me, to ask if my brother was Ivan Miller. Just because he knew it would make my Father laugh when I repeated the story later.
My Dad had an intensely deep and dry sense of humor, honed by the unsparing difficulties of life. He made sure to share his sense of humor with me so I wouldn't approach life cold and humorless. When my Mother and Father visited our home in California we went to Disneyland. One of my happiest memories was of him and my husband spinning my Mother and I in the teacups so fast we were giddy with laughter.
He walked me down the aisle. He told the Wedding Planner that my Mother taught me to think with my head and he taught me to think with my heart. And it is so true. My heart is bursting with pain that he's gone and I'll never hear his voice again. The ache of losing him in my thirties when I need him so much.
He'd have some pithy comment to shore me up about his death. What I would give to hear those precious words from him. I'd even relive the moments when he'd purposely call my boyfriends by the wrong name while flexing his muscles to remind them who was in charge. And how he denied those actions so many times for a laugh.
He was such a good man. Whose life can't be marginalized by a humble few sentences. I hope I can write in the way he could if life hadn't gotten out from under him the way it did.
He held my daughter this past July when we visited the East Coast. He let her curious fingers explore his expansive white beard, for not every Granddaughter is so lucky to have Santa Clause as their Grandfather.
The last memory I have is of him laughing. I want to hold that memory dear to my heart forever. Ivan Miller, I am so proud to be your daughter. I hope I make you proud with my simple words. I'll miss you until the end of time.
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