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Is there one day of the week that is harder for you to get through than the others? For me, I thought it would be Saturday, but it turns out it is Thursday. My world changed for the worst on a fateful Saturday, but it was the loving memories from previous Thursdays that make it so difficult. Until recently, I could not even bring myself to delete the recurring event that my iPhone calendar reminded me of every Thursday. The idea of deleting it was too hard, but it reached a point where receiving a weekly reminder that the event would never happen again was harder.
I have to take you back almost 30 years to fully explain my heartbreak. When I was seven years old, I discovered my parents were divorcing. Any kid who loves her parents can tell you this is the worst thing most kids can imagine. In the 80s, it was becoming more common for parents to get divorced, but there were still a lot of marriages intact. Many kids probably assumed they would not be a statistic. This was a time when it felt surreal, although I am sure it still does for kids experiencing it now. It gets even harder when you have six siblings. The fear not only sets in that you may not see a parent anymore, but you may not even see some siblings anymore.
My family and I have always been very close, even then. I loved each and every member, and I could not even imagine living without them. Seven kids is a lot for a single parent, so splitting up the kids is a logical thing to do. That is the way my Mom saw it anyway. Thankfully, my Dad saw it differently. Divorce is hard enough when you no longer see both parents everyday, and he did not want us to miss our siblings, too. Thus, my Dad took all seven of us, and my Mom agreed since she did not think she could take on the task.
My little brother was eight months old, and my oldest sister was 13. We relocated to Las Vegas, so my Dad could have assistance from his Mom, sister, and brother with raising his kids. This was far from the company he worked at for over 25 years. It took him about six months to buy a house, so I lived in my Aunt’s house during that time. I’ll never forget crying over her Barbie Dolls at the thought that I would never again play Barbie Dolls with my Mom. She told me she would play with me whenever I want. All I had to do was call her.
After living with my Aunt for six months, my Dad’s new house was ready. My Uncle moved in to be our caregiver, because my Dad continued working for that company until he made it to his 30th year. We only saw my Dad on the weekends, because he worked too far away to drive home each night. As a single parent, he could not afford two places, so he slept in his van every night when he had work the next day for almost five years. When I think back on the sacrifice he made for us, I cannot fully express my gratitude. How many parents work that hard to keep a family together!
It seems weird to say he kept us together considering we never saw our Mom, and we only saw him on the weekends. We saw our siblings everyday though, and that helped us grow really close. When I was 12, my Dad retired from work. Retiring at 48 is rarely possible anymore, but many corporations had incredible retirement plans then. That was the happiest day (at the time), because I missed him so much. Having him home was wonderful. I will never forget all the time we had with our Dad, and I will never forget my rebellious teenage years. Boy, do I wish I could take those back.
In my early 20s, I realized that my Dad was the greatest. Yeah, I should have realized that much earlier, but I clashed with him a bit in my mid teens. I felt like I knew everything when I was a teenager, and then I just woke up one day in my early 20s and realized I did not know anything. After I graduated from college (which opened a lot of free time, because I worked full-time and went to college full-time), I set up a weekly date with my Dad. Over the years, the day we went out changed a bit. Before I had kids, we even went out twice a week at times.
I wanted to always make time for the man who always made time for me. Plus, I realized that I really enjoyed his company. My Dad always made me laugh, feel loved, and most importantly was my best friend. There was never a problem that he did not try to solve. He even joked that men always try to solve problems. No joke, he was usually really helpful. His advice was mostly sound.
While we’re on the topic of joking, My Dad always told jokes. He just wanted everyone to be happy, and his laugh was jovial. Even when his jokes missed the mark, he’d make me laugh with his hearty laughter. Many say my Dad looked like Santa, but he reminded me of Santa. I’ve never known anyone more selfless or anyone who lived to make others happy the way my Dad did. I love my husband, and I really do think he is a great Dad, but I can still say my Dad was the greatest. If you needed the shirt off his back, he’d give it to you. He’d also tell you how much he loved you and how special you were to him as he gave it to you.
Unless we were sick, we never missed a week of getting together. After my kids were born, we transitioned from Bingo or Poker to dinner. It’s weird, but I’ve always loved Bingo and Poker. My Dad never cared much for Bingo, but he played with me knowing I love it. I’m not much of a gambler, and those were the games I could play for cheap. There were times when we’d play live poker that he would stake my game, so I always let him keep the winnings, not that I ever won much.
Once my younger son got into preschool, I transitioned our weekly dinner to Thursday. It was easy to pick him up and head straight over to dinner. One of the things that I loved about my Dad is he was genuine and always himself. While that meant he occasionally told inappropriate jokes in front of my kids, it also meant that my kids knew my real Dad, not a sugar-coated form. They really knew the man who lived to make them happy. He always had special quarters and half-dollars, because he loved to collect coins. Kids love getting money, even if it is only a quarter.
You know when people tell you never to take your loved ones for granted? I never thought this would apply to me. The last time I saw my Dad was at my little sister’s baby shower. A big sister who lives in a different state also attended, and I barely spoke to my Dad thinking I’d see him on Thursday. My thought was it would be a while before I saw her again, so I spent most of my time with her. It was a busy week for me, and my Dad was not feeling well. When he was unable to make our usual Thursday dinner, I was unable to find time to make it up. Boy do I wish I had found the time!
My husband accepted a job in a different state, but I could not imagine leaving without saying goodbye to my best friend, my Dad. I called him all morning on Saturday hoping we could find time to see him before we left the next morning. He never answered. We had a busy day, so I went through with all my other plans. They were plans that I would have dropped in a minute for him, but he never would have let me. While having dinner at my Father-in-Law’s house, I received the call that changed my life forever.
My sister-in-law told me my Dad passed away. Before she even uttered the words, I just knew. While he had some health issues, no one knew just how sick he was or any of us would have forced him to go to the hospital. He had time to take care of everyone else, but he was never that great at taking care of himself. I had a bad feeling when he did not answer his phone all day, but I always had a bad feeling when he did not answer the phone. The day before I moved away (which is already stressful enough), I lost the only person who has ALWAYS been with me. My siblings have always been there, too, but it is not the same.
I also have this irrational fear of moving now. The day after I moved into the house I just moved out of (almost 11 years earlier), my Aunt died. Yes, that is the same Aunt who took me in for six months and promised she’d always play Barbies with me. Then, the day before I moved out my Dad, who was my everything for so long, died. So, my plan is to stay in this new house forever. If I do that though, I will continue to live far away from my siblings. They are the only ones left who love my Dad as much as I do, so I pray I get to move back to Vegas someday. After almost 30 years and many fond memories, my heart belongs to Vegas. My Dad retired there, I met my husband there, and I had my kids there. I will just have to pray that everyone survives my move.
That fateful Saturday was almost four months ago, but I still struggle every single day. My pain intensifies on Thursday, and I am not really able to talk to anyone about it. Who do you call when the only person you ever really shared everything with is the one you’re missing? If you’re someone I love, I promise I will be able to fully open up to you someday. For now, I am just struggling with the idea of replacing my favorite confidant. Please forgive me if I seem distant. It took this long just to write through the tears. Talking through the tears is a million times harder.
My Dad was the original deal seeker, and I learned a lot from him. I will never lose my thrill for the hunt. He instilled that in me. As soon as I can focus and am ready to resume the responsibility, I will return to sharing deals. Until then, I miss most of you more than you know. Thanks for reading even though I shared no deals or pictures.