My first Father’s Day without Dad
(Author's note: It's been four years since I originally wrote this article. Since then, I am now the very proud grandfather of our second grandson Kai, also adopted from South Korea. Life is wonderful and Dad, I still miss you.)
This Sunday is Father's Day and, for the first time in my life, I don't have a dad.
We take a lot of things for granted in our lives, including our own health and the health of our parents but last September I lost my dad and best friend. Okay, Pop was 85 and had a failed quad-bypass, and I'm in my fifties... but he's gone and it hurts.
Dad was from German and Scottish stock, which meant that he was a grouchy tight-wad. He grew up in the depression, went through WWII and settled down to raise a family of three boys. He was never touchy-feely but always there to support us, build strength, work ethics and morals in his sons.
Life gives us interesting turns and lessons, and the circle of life is a strange one. My daughter and son-in-law were trying to adopt and were on a long list for a baby from South Korea. They were granted their baby boy when he was just two days old but waited months for the papers to be certified between two countries.
Dad's operation did not go well and in a short time he was on a feeding tube and slowly dying. His wish to me was to pull the tube and let him go...and I signed the papers. At first I felt that I was signing his death warrant but my wife, in her wisdom, assured me that I was actually signing his release form.
The estimate was that it would be five to 10 days before he would die.
The morning that I signed the papers, my daughter called to say that they had gotten "the Call" and that they had to leave the next day for Seoul to get their baby boy. I told Dad what they were doing and that he was now officially a great grandfather. He smiled and said "Well, that's wonderful."
Those were dad's last words -- he died an hour later. It was as if Dad could now leave, knowing that the circle was complete.
So this is a bittersweet Father's Day for me, because I still have a father in my family, but instead of my Pop, it's my son-in law Michael -- and now I'm a grandfather to little Zachary Kim Ruggiero.
Thank you for allowing me to indulge myself in missing my dad. Fatherhood in the world today is often overlooked and undervalued and that's a hideous mistake. Thanks to all of the dads out there: ours is the greatest responsibility and reward possible. If you're not a dad, then thank yours for me!
HAPPY FATHER'S DAY!!