December 30th would have been Daddy’s 78th birthday. He left this earth much too soon, only 56 years old. It seems so unfair that he has missed out on so much of our lives. He never got to meet any of his four grandchildren. He was so excited to be a grandfather. Having experienced life with him as a father, he would have, without doubt, been grand.
He wasn’t there as I feared for my daughter’s life while pregnant. He missed the emergency c-section and the 6 weeks she was in the NICU. He wasn’t there when she had open heart surgery or yanked out her own feeding tube, proving all the doctors wrong. He missed out on her first steps, playing baseball, cheerleading and her dance recitals. He missed her horseback riding and learning to ride a bike.
He missed out on watching Luke grow to be 6’9″ and a basketball star at 14. He never attended a basketball game or cheered for his grandson as he slammed dunked his way to victory.
He wasn’t there to watch Matthew protect and care for his sister. He missed the baseball games, tournaments and double-plays. He never got to see him pitch those winning games or watch him graduate high school and move out to West Virginia.
He missed out on all of Sammi’s years of dance recitals, volleyball games, high school graduation and getting her Psychology degree. He wasn’t there to meet her first boyfriend and didn’t get to scare him, like he did ours.
He wasn’t there as my mom, Dawn and I cried countless times for more than two decades as we struggled through life’s ups and downs without him. He wasn’t there to console us, pray with us and cry with us when my grandparents died.
He missed out on my job changes, finding my true love and he wasn’t there to walk me down the aisle.
Or was he? …
I cannot feel sad for him as if he missed out, when in my heart, I know he was, in fact, with us. His love transcends time and space. He was there for all of us and always managed to send a message to prove he was with us, in spirit. I know he was by our side through each heartbreak and cheering along with every victory. He has roared his boisterous laugh at every birthday, graduation and holiday party.
Every cardinal that visited at just the right time, made me feel he was there. Each sign that said “Sal” on a business, in an unexpected place , just when I wished he was with me. With every auto-correct of “dad” when what was originally typed was not even close, was him saying “Hi, Pooh! I’m here.” And so much more, all the many little things that have special meaning only to us.
But, perhaps, the most meaningful and convincing signs have been our Red Quarters.
Red Quarters he and my mother painted for us, as children, to play in the arcade he owned almost 40 years ago.
Red Quarters we never saw again or even thought of for decades, after closing the business and moving more than an hour away.
Red Quarters that only resurfaced after Daddy had passed.
These Red Quarters have been given to each of us, from Daddy, on the days of sadness and the days of pure joy, that one may think he missed. Received always when we needed him the most. A red quarter in the change from the Wawa, on the way to Faith’s first Dance Recital. A Red Quarter from the concession stand after Matthew’s first home run. A Red Quarter for my husband, the day before he proposed. And countless more, at sad times and special occasions. Just as he was always there for us when he walked this earth, he found a way to be with us still.
I treasure these gifts that God has allowed Daddy to give to us, so that we may feel, in our hearts, that he’s with us. The best, heavenly gifts… The Red Quarters.
Thank you for being with me… still.