I was not a good assistant.
I never wanted to be there.
My mind wandered and my thoughts were always elsewhere. My dad would ask me to hand him something and it always took a moment for me to come back to the present. He would send me to the garage for something he needed to complete his task – water pump pliers, a ball peen hammer, or eight penny nails. I would move quickly trying to make up time for my lack of attention. Only to find myself standing in the garage, not having the slightest clue what the hell any of that was.
Invariably, it would take me too much time. My dad would angrily appear in the garage, grab the required material – then look me in the eyes and say, “Woof.”
That was my dad’s shorthand.
It meant, “If it was any more obvious it would bite you in the ass!” It didn’t make perfect sense. But I guess if we’re living in a world where eight penny nails can bite you in the ass – it’s not a stretch to believe they could say “Woof”.
Today marks the third anniversary of my father’s passing – December 11th, 2013.
In the weeks leading up to his death, he was often drifting in and out of consciousness. His mind was somewhere else and it was hard to bring him to the present. The night before he passed, was one of the rare times during that period that he seemed to be in a peaceful sleep.
I leaned over to kiss him goodbye - and in that moment, he opened his eyes.
They were clear and brighter than I had seen them in weeks. He looked up at me and with the happiest smile said, “What are you doing here?”
I said, “I’m here for you dad, I love you.” He smiled and closed his eyes.
A few hours later he would be gone.
I have found myself thinking of that moment again and again. My dad’s final words are becoming more of a guiding principal. In moments of frustration, sadness, and anger - I ask myself, “What am I doing here?”
If I can’t answer it as clearly as I did that night – then I know I’m not where I should be.
I am not so foolish to think that my dad’s final words were meant to be some deep far reaching bit of wisdom.
Or maybe they were.
Either way, they have certainly come to be that for me. I wish I could thank him for that last bit of insight to help me along my path. Luckily, I’m almost certain how he would respond.