My dad's birthday was on Monday. I dealt with it pretty well, considering I had other issues that were driving me batshit crazy to focus on at the time. I didn't want to dwell on it; I've tried very hard to keep myself together since he died. I don't know if that's what I should be doing, but that's what I've been attempting to, anyway. I've thought about him a lot, obviously, but I've tried not to be too sad about it because I don't think he'd want me to be.
I was telling John last night that my biggest fear is that I won't be able to get the image I have of him out of my head. When I think about him, I don't remember what he looked like two years ago, or last Christmas; I only see what he looked like a month and a half a good, a few days before he died. I'm trying very hard to think about those good memories and images, instead, and I want to share this story because I think it helps me, at least.
My dad worked for the Coca-Cola bottling plant in town for about thirty years. He drove all over the area - sometimes driving a hundred miles a day - fixing Coke machines and fountain units. That's how he met so many people; he knew every single shop and restaurant owner so well that they wouldn't have a problem calling him at home with a problem (much to his dismay).
He also made signs for businesses, those old-fashioned metal signs with the name in huge white lettering framed by two Coke logos. These were all over the place back home.
My dad returned to work at the end of last year when he went into remission, and he left work shortly after he discovered that the cancer had returned. But one of the last projects he worked on was a new metal sign for Driftwood, which is my parents' favorite restaurant in the area (it's owned by a couple they knew back in high school, of course).
The Coke plant had phased out the signs (like they did the bottling several years ago), but after Pam and Spencer, the owners of Driftwood, practically begged for him to make them a new one, my dad agreed. When he finished the sign, he signed his name at the bottom, which happens to be centered right above the front door of the building. He said he did it so that whenever my mom goes to dinner at Driftwood, she'll know he's with her.
And that, ladies and gentlemen, is a goddamn love story.