Ramble on, Papa. Ramble on.

Five years ago today, I lost one of the most important people in my life. My dad not only raised me and my sisters to strive to be good people; he also influenced many of the things that made me who I am today.

We didn’t talk much because I wasn’t the kind of person who opened up about their personal life. But I knew I could always come to him if I felt the need to, and that was enough for me.

Don’t worry; that’s about all I can say before getting too sentimental (ugh). He wouldn’t like that; he’d probably say I was being uncharacteristically melodramatic. Instead, I’m going to tell you some of the things we did together that stuck with me, things I’ll enjoy doing again and again not just for fun but also for the memories they bring back:

Play Scrabble
My dad and I were insanely competitive when we played Scrabble. We’d spend hours trying to beat each other’s scores (we still have our score cards), even though he’d almost always triumph over me (mad vocabulary, that one). Sometimes we’d even start a game late at night with him saying “just one round”, and we’d end up playing until one in the morning.

Do an Everybody Loves Raymond-athon
I remember watching this show with him well into the night and seeing him laugh so hard he can’t even breathe. Watching it with him also gave me a deeper insight into the kind of person he was. I remember us seeing the episode “Fish Tank”, where Ray buys his dad Frank a fish tank as a birthday gift, and Frank gets mad because he didn’t want his kids spending that kind of money on him. During that show, my dad turned to me and said, “See?” Jeez. You try to do something nice for the guy.

Well said, Frank.

Tell dirty jokes

Raising five girls, my dad was pretty conservative when it came to dealing with us. It’s still a mystery to me that I got away with the sex jokes I made around him, a feat that my mom and my sisters often say I’m the only one of us who got away with.

Listen to Eric Clapton
And Led Zeppelin. And Steely Dan. And The Doors. And The Beatles. My dad had excellent taste in music, and I’m glad he shared it with us. I actually listen to these guys everyday, but today it’s almost a crime not to play them when we spent many a car drive, vacation, and lazy Sunday immersing ourselves in these masters’ glory.

Read one of the books in his collection
When he passed away, I asked my mom for his books, a lovely collection consisting mostly of paperbacks by authors like Grisham, Sandford, Patterson, Ludlum, and Clancy. He and I shared a love for reading, but it was hard to keep up with the speed by which he devoured the books that now make up a massive part of my mini library. I’ve only read about a little over a third of them, but I look forward to poring over every single one.

Solve a crossword puzzle
As a kid, I never understood my dad’s fascination with crossword puzzles until I did my first one. Since then, I’d try to beat him to the newspaper to get to the puzzle first, though I’d occasionally consult him for help. The guy did so many crosswords, he probably could’ve finished one in his sleep.

54 across must be what crossword puzzles are to my dad.

Strum a little on his guitar

I also got to keep his guitar, which sits next to my bookshelf now. My dad played a bit of acoustic guitar, both because he and my mom used to be members of a religious association (where he was part of the music group), and because he just loved playing. He taught me a little bit to a point where I could actually play an entire easy song, though I never learned how to do the friggin’ F chord.

I’ll never forget all the times we spent talking not in words but in actions. For all the Scrabble sessions, the silent moments of book reading, the poring over those black and white crossword boxes, and the laughs as Frank makes fun of his wife and sons, thanks.

See you on the other side.


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