This weekend marked the one-year anniversary of my father's death. He had COPD (like emphysema). It has been a long and difficult year, but my family is hanging in there. Although The Czarina always wore the pants in the family, Dad was the rock upon which we were all based.
To date, he is the only person whom I believe loved me unconditionally. No one was ever more excited to talk to me or see me. Every time I would leave, he would give me these big, sad puppy-dog eyes and plead with me to stay just one more day. I was quite the Daddy's Girl, I guess. I miss him every day. It's still hard not to cry, and probably will be for some time.
In a lot of ways, I feel his presence and know that he is with us, watching. (Some of these ways are kind of creepy in a ghost-story kind of way. Maybe I'll tell you about them one day.) I'll never hear his voice again or have him walk me down the aisle, but he has given me things which I will have for the rest of my life: a love of learning, a love of all things Southern, and a love of dessert. He gave me a few nicknames, one of which is the title of this blog. He left behind a large, loving family, a really messy office and some of the most loyal friends anyone could ask for. He also left behind a dozen or so stuffed animals (the taxidermy kind, not the toy kind). I will be sure to carry on our shared personality traits. I, too, am patient, affectionate and goofy. I too love history, ghost stories and candy. He taught me how to drive stick-shift cars, how to have fun while still making good grades in college and how to discern The Czarina's mood swings.
It was The Czarina's idea to make me keep every letter she and Dad wrote to me when I was in college and when I was a teacher. I'm really glad I listened to her, because as I was cleaning out some stuff the other day, I came upon one. It was short--all it said was
Why? Because you need it and because I love you.--W.L.F.
I remember that it held a $50 check for a bill I couldn't pay. He signed it W.L.F., a nickname he gave himself. It stands for World's Leading Father. And he was.
Wherever you are, W.L.F., I miss you and love you. I hope I make you proud every day.