Don't Know Whatcha Got

March 2, 2010
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There comes a point in life where you really mature and you realize that you have no idea what you would do without certain people. You start to see the ripple effect of the people in your life, and you learn how every little thing connects and you finally understand, you don’t know whatcha got till’ its gone.

I remember how excited I was when I found out we were moving to Montana and my dad had won custody of my big brother, little sister and I. When my mom called me she was crying and not caring about her feelings I yelled into the phone, “I’m going to Montana, I’m going to Montana!” This was my way of letting her know that she messed up when I was younger and now my daddy had me forever. She had hurt me so much that at this point I didn’t care if I hurt her.

I remember the feeling I got on a night about three years later. The afternoon was filled with kicking a soccer ball around with friends across the street from where we lived. Something didn’t feel right, and I knew that my dad should’ve been home by then. I had thoughts running through my head but I tried to ignore them. I kept trying to tell myself that he left work late and when he didn’t answer the phone calls that I made over and over for hours, I told myself that he was just on his motorcycle coming home. Even though I knew this wasn’t true, I tried to convince myself. I’m pretty sure everyone gets the, “I think they got in a car accident on the way home” thoughts when our parents don’t answer our repeated phone calls, but this was different. I could feel it; I had this feeling in the pit of my stomach that something was seriously wrong.

My dad was the type of guy that everyone loved. I feel bad for people who never met him. He always wanted to be there for people, even strangers. He was artistic and loved nature. He raised me on Alfred Hitchcock, fly-fishing, KEXP, MPR, the love for mountains and hiking, cooking, hospitality, friendliness, and helpfulness. I remember listening to TALKRADIO and CARTALK in the car, always wishing he’d change the channel to some music by Counting Crows, James Taylor or Tracy Chapman. He would make us watch the “most ridiculous movies ever”. For a few years he was obsessed with Alfred Hitchcock and we would watch every movie he directed, trying to spy him in the one scene he’d put himself in every movie. His all-time favorite movie was A River Runs Through It, I think because one, we’ve been to almost every spot where it was filmed, and two, he loved fly-fishing. My dad was one of those people who would make sushi for dinner. He made Thai muscles when we went camping and Dim Sum when we would stay in our Mickey Mouse trailer on the mountain for the weekend so we could go snowboarding and skiing. He tried to have us see things from different perspectives and realize that there is always someone who has it worse than we do. He would tell us that he used to walk to school up hill both ways, in the snow and he used to tell us stories about how he had to shovel elephant poop every summer and weekend on his dad’s elephant farm. He never let it show how much he was hurting and he tried to make us as happy as he could.

Once again, I was on the phone with my mom hearing her cry. I was crying and holding my sister in my arms. With my mom on speakerphone, people sitting all around me, and more people coming in the doors of the apartment, I knew what she was going to say. I was preparing myself for it all night in a way… I knew what had happened but I couldn’t even believe it. The words that came out of her mouth this time were more life changing then moving away to Montana. “Your daddy died.” I’ll be honest; to this day I still don’t understand it.

People say death is a part of life. You’re born, you live, and you die. If it’s apart of life, then why is it so hard for us to understand and handle? I wasn’t taught that when I was little. I was taught that death is so hard for us to handle, because we weren’t created to die in the beginning.

It’s been almost two years and in those two years I’ve learned so much about my mom and dad. I’ve become so close to my family and I make sure to call or text everyone out of the blue to let them know I’m thinking about them. I get a homey feeling when I listen to Counting Crows, Five for Fighting or Tracy Chapman. I listen to TALKRADIO’s Sunday puzzler and I take the time out of my days to the watch the “ridiculous movies” or try to find Alfred Hitchcock. I watch the documentaries my daddy would and I watch A River Runs Through It to think about memories and bonds of families. When I cook food my dad would, it tastes just like his. My friends come to me for advice and I give it to them, just like my dad would, I’m there for them when they need me. A lot of the things I do and love, I do because my dad would and loved. This is the day that I’ve realized everything ties in together. My dad loved the things he did because his family did and they instilled it in him. Everything ties in together, family bonds are the glue of the world, and it is what connects everyone together.

Fast Car by Tracy Chapman just came on and it made me think about all the times my dad and I would sit there in our living room, doing nothing but listening to music and singing. Random songs will come on, some I listen to everyday and some I haven’t heard in years, but the most beautiful thing about it is that it’ll bring up a memory that I haven’t thought about it a long time. Sometimes I think about the times my dad and I used to fight. The times he would tell me I would go a mile when he gave me an inch. The things I used to make fun of him for, I do now. My sister says a lot of things my dad would say, and then it might have bothered me, but now I love it. Olivia, my sister, and I carry on the family legacy of loving elephants and we try to remember that our lives could always be worse then they are. When we lose someone, we realize how closely everything in our life is connected to the people we know and the people who care about us. My dad isn’t here to see me growing up and he wouldn’t be happy with some of the things I wear, or how much makeup I put on my face. He wouldn’t believe that I straighten my hair all the time or that I’ve had my first kiss, or my second or my third… Sometimes I feel like he wouldn’t even recognize me anymore. The one thing that he’d know for sure though is that I’m just like him, and that’s enough for me to be happy.

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