whutevah, I do what I wawnt!

After making an emotional post on tumblr about my dad, I realized two things:

  • it’s been a hella long time since I’ve posted here
  • I should probably post here.

So, what’s been going on in my life since I made the announcement of my plans to do NaNoWriMo on August 2 (whew, okay, that’s not as long as it’s been since I’ve posted on Livejournal, that’s okay, that’s just a little over a month, right?), you may ask?  Well, a whole buncha nothing.  I’ve worked, gone to Texas (more importantly, a beach in Texas – most importantly, an island in Texas), worked some more, and oh, I started playing World of Warcraft…oh, and I went to a club for the first time.  That’s about it, though – as far as life-changing events, I have undergone few to none in that time-span and these days my life is spent on tumblr, WoW, worrying about money because god, paychecks sure do go fast, and picking up bowling again.

So, what do I have to write about?  Well, who’s surprised – it’s -dun dun dunnn- my dad!  Sort of.  He’s kind of just a mention in this post, which  instead is going to attempt to focus on my blog itself (and by attempt I mean the good ol’ “paper attempt” – that is, I start out with a topic, a rough idea of things I want to cover, and before I know it, I have eight pages of stuff I’ve come up with while attempting to write the actual point of the paper…much like this parenthetical aside. whoops!).

My friend and manager, Kevin, has this blog he is currently calling “Hannah and Caroline and The Little Kumquat and Me.” Now, he’s had this blog longer than I’ve known his brother-in-law/my ex-boyfriend and therefore his family/him, and has said multiple times he made it as something to give to his first daughter Hannah as a way to show her a glimpse into her father that she may not see during the day-to-day routines – and I certainly hope I didn’t butcher what he’s said before, and if I have, I’m deeply sorry – really!  It’s a really cool idea, an excuse to start up a blog, and an excuse to continue blogging.

But it got me thinking…or rather, thinking about my dad and this blog and how I’ve neglected it lately got me thinking.  If I showed my future daughter/son (I’m hoping I have one of each, so…both?) my blog from my college/just-after-college year(s, because I’d love to continue this for years, and I’m really going to make the effort to), if the internet is even still around, what would they think?

Wow, Mom, you sure do talk about your dad a lot.  Was Grandpa REALLY that great?  Christ, did you ever see a therapist?

NaNoWriMo? HAH, good one – isn’t this your ninteenth attempt?

But I haven’t written solely about Dad.  I don’t know why I’m even remotely self-conscious about him being the subject of so many entries – I suppose because I don’t want to rehash the same stuff over and over again without coming up with new thoughts or feelings or realizations.  I guess part of me doesn’t want to seem fixated on it all, because if I have to be honest (and I do, I mean it’s my blog holding me accountable, right?), I don’t think of Dad very much in the grand scheme of things during my everyday routines.  Don’t get me wrong – I think of him at some point everyday, whether it’s something someone posted on tumblr that reminds me of him, or a South Park episode about NASCAR, a sport he loved (the only sport he loved that much, probably?), or a song that plays in PSP that reminds me of him.  No matter what, there is always SOMETHING that reminds me of him or makes him pop into my head.  But in terms of getting depressed about him, crying about him – these things happen rarely these days.  In a way, I’m glad, because it would be awkward of me being in customer service to start bursting into tears every single shift.  It helps that I have amazing family and friends to keep me from fixating on being sad, too.  It’s good that – no matter how much I complain about customers – I have work to keep me busy.  And tumblr, and WoW, and drawing, and writing – all of these things are great.

But I wonder how much my future children would see of my general moving-on-from-Dad’s-death I’ve done.  Would it seem overwhelming?  Do I really care?  His death defined my life in a way – it’s not the only thing that defines my life, I mean I’m not Taylor Swift whose songs pretty much only have to do with being a teenager and dating someone and he broke her heart and she’s not a cheerleader and blah blah blah predictable – but it’s one of my biggest life-events, right up there with graduating from IB and then graduating from college and my seizures.

But I’ve realized something.  My fear is not that my children won’t find another topic than my father in this blog – because my categories to the side of this “post an entry” page prove that there are other topics – but rather, I fear they will see it as a negative thing.  That they will see it as “our mom obsessing over losing her dad/our grandfather” instead of how I want them to see it, how I want anyone who reads my blog to see it – that I was lucky enough to have such a wonderful, caring, good man of a father, who still had his faults (because please, god, let me never completely sanctify him like people are wont to do about deceased loved ones – the man had a temper, and a terrible habit of falling asleep during a NASCAR race and then getting pissed later if we turned it off since he wasn’t watching it), that I wanted to share with the world some of the light he brought into my life, and to share how deeply it affected me.  He meant that much to me that I write about him often; he is remembered and loved still in my mediocre blog-writing, which can hardly do him justice but attempt to do so.

I want to teach them that all fathers out there aren’t horrible, because they will almost surely meet somebody or hear of somebody whose father abused them, who is no father to a daughter or a son.  The amount of poetry discussing abusive (sexually or otherwise) fathers to the amount of poetry discussing wonderful fathers, fathers like mine – is extremely disproportionate.  And I get it.  Writing is a wonderful outlet for pain, but sometimes the good guys need to be highlighted too.  More than anything, I want my children to know how great their grandfather was, how he was one of the kindest souls one could ever meet.  I want them to have a glimpse of him, and not just think, “Wow, Mom really should see a counselor about her obsessing over Grandpa.”

He’s just a character of my blog…but he’s a major character.  More people than I think realize are major characters of my blog in so many ways, and I hope my children get a picture – no matter how brief – of how their mother never allowed her sad experiences keep her from enjoying life, because despite the number of entries involving my dad, they are ways of keeping him alive and sharing his love with as many people as she can.

Isn’t that a fair reason?

“a thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…”

I woke up at an extremely unusual time for me today–12–and haven’t been back to sleep.  I played Pokémon, won me a gym badge, and then got online and, as per usual, went straight to tumblr to catch up to today’s picture spams.  Then, as per usual during a day I’m home, I started thinking.

“It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live,” Albus Dumbledore so wisely said once.  Well, I have been dwelling on dreams for a while now, I don’t think to the point of forgetting to live, but definitely dwelling.  Creepy dreams of my dad alive once again with me knowing he would die again, dreams of him hugging me, dreams of my grandmother, and as is the norm with me, weird dreams that don’t make an ounce of sense.  But what about dwelling on memories?  Couldn’t that be worse than dwelling on dreams?

Lately, I’ve been increasingly more nostalgic.  I remember the good things, not the infuriatingly frustrating things about a person (my dad included).  Isn’t that the way it always is?  Remember the good times, shut out the bad things, the things that made you want to get away and to separate yourself and the growing apart…or, if it’s a death, the good things they did, the funny moments, the wonderful qualities, but hardly the temper while working on a car, the burning of meat because of falling asleep while barbecuing 99% of the time, the griping because we turned off a NASCAR race while the subject was asleep on the couch and not watching it anyway.  I’ve done well in not sanctifying my father, I think.  Mom and I laugh sometimes about his irrational moods and the double standard he set while griping at us for taking a long time to get ready, but by the time we were ready, he wasn’t ready.  We laugh about them, but more importantly, we acknowledge them.

With you, I’ve been harsher to myself.  I think, with disgust, often about my unrealistic expectations and my histrionic and melodramatic tendencies and find a kind of kinship in Asuka Langley Soryu from Evangelion, who really kind of is a braver version of my fourteen-year-old self…well, without the piloting an Eva kinda thing.  Actually, she’s kind of like me all throughout high school.  The point is, I can hardly see positive things about myself, and that sucks.  I’d like to think I’m a better person than I paint myself to be in my memories, but I don’t know, because I only know what I think I was, and god, ever since I was 11, I never could really distinguish the depression and the anger I felt from how I should act.  And work, if nothing else, has taught me that No Matter What, you must act stoic and cheerful and be A Great Cashier by separating how you feel from how you act.  But I don’t think being dishonest with someone who’s much closer than a customer is the way to go.  So how do I balance these unrealistic expectations with how I act upon them?  I still don’t know.

I take after my dad in a lot of ways.  I get easily pissed off if I’m working on fixing something, though it usually ends in tears for me rather than bitching at someone (such as when I tried to put childproof lever things on our kitchen cabinets and ended up just sitting in the floor and crying because I felt like a failure — over childproof locks, how stupid is that??).  But, unlike me who cries at everything from commercials to not putting on locks, I only saw my dad cry once, at his sister’s memorial service/funeral.  I’m like a more crying version of my mother in this way.  I feel so many things and I don’t know how to handle them so I just stuff them away until one day I have a breakdown and then things are fine again after that, rinse, repeat.

But I’ve been having a hard time with memories lately.  I don’t know how I went off on a tangent like that, but it does relate, so I suppose it’s not much of a tangent (however, this sentence is).  Anyway, I’ve been nostalgic for a time that I’m sure is much more golden in my head than it was at the time.  But I know that with some things, with most things, it’s not.  It was wonderful just the way I’m remembering it.  And I miss that.

I wonder if you ever think of me, of us.  Lately, I do.

The flow of time is always cruel…
Its speed seems different for each person but no one can change it…
A thing that doesn’t change with time is a memory of younger days…
-Sheik, Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time

happy birthday

Monday, the 24th, would have been my dad’s 57th birthday.  It’s hard to picture him as 57, but he never looked his age until he got sick, anyway, so he’d probably look the same except maybe with a little more gray hair.

For his last birthday, I got off from work study early, picked up some chicken and dumplings I’d called to have ready at Cracker Barrel in Trussville and took them to his newly-rented/founded own business in Irondale and we sat by this little wood stove he had in there because it was so cold in that mostly-concrete-and-steel building.

He told me he was glad I visited and was spending the time with him and that he was glad I’d written that letter to him that I’d left on his table in the dining/back room (I can only think of a handful of times we ever actually dined there, why do we call it the dining room?), and I fought back crying as we ate and talked about the letter.

It’s one of my favorite memories, not just of him, but ever.

Happy (early) birthday, Dad.  I wish we had gotten to share many more.

“He’s a character in your blog.” -or something like that, as wisely stated by Kevin

Reason #564 why grief sucks: sometimes it hits out of nowhere.

I just got out of the shower.  While I was in there and washing my face, suddenly I remembered this project I had due in sixth grade.  We’d just finished reading The Secret of NIMH (a great book I intend to reread over Christmas break) in my Literature class, and we had to do a diorama of their little house.

My dad ALWAYS helped with school projects; he probably really did too much for me, I think because he hadn’t been able to be around his first children as much as he was around me.  But, anyway, I did do some work on the project, I promise.

But to help me with this project, he took little pieces of wood (he was a patternmaker so he made all the furniture in my room — even my bed — with heavy-duty wood that will last FOREVER, sort of like Amish furniture) and made tiny bookshelves, tiny chairs, and a tiny table.  Then, for books, he cut the tops of legal pads and glued the “loose” edges and they made little books by themselves.  Then he stacked them, having some leaning on others and some shelves full.

It was the coolest thing ever, and I’m sure we have pictures somewhere, but God only knows where.

But anyway, that just randomly popped into my head and I have no idea why and I almost started crying while loofa-ing my face.  It made me so sad, because I don’t know if I ever properly thanked him.  At that time I was hormonal and bitchy and miserable and so I don’t know if my pride let me thank him then — I probably got mad or something, even though everyone loved it at school.  But I just wish I could thank him for little stuff like that.

It’s so stupid, it probably doesn’t even matter.

I just shouldn’t have acted like such a bitch to him at that time.  Apparently he would say to my mom, “What did I do?” and god that makes me feel so guilty.

Anyway, I think all of this is brought on by some combination of exhaustion and just general melancholy over winter like I talked about in a post on another blog last week.

But it really sucks.  And people have told me “oh he knew” or “he knows” or “you can still tell him” and yeah, all that might be true, but we don’t know what happens after life.  Maybe there’s nothing.  Maybe he can hear me if I talk to him.  But I can’t tell him in person, right now, and that’s the worst.

Maybe I’ll make a diorama over the break.  I think that would be therapeutic.  I don’t know what it would be of, but that doesn’t matter.  I’ll figure it out as I go along.

Isn’t that all we can do?

death and all of his friends

I know I talk about death more than a 21-year-old probably should, and the subject of my dad is one on which I could talk for days, but these particular thoughts wouldn’t leave me alone as I tried to sleep before 7am today.  So here you go.

Warning: If you’re not up for reading something that deals with death, or uncomfortable with the concept and idea, then be forewarned — death is definitely mentioned extensively in this post.  However, it’s not JUST about death, so.  Do what you will.

Death is something I never really thought about extensively, despite being racked in my childhood with recurring dreams/nightmares about my grandmother and I floating along in this boat in a misty, blue-green place that seemed like a swamp, while discussing my mother’s death, usually culminating in the spirit of my mother or a ghost version of her sitting in the boat with us in the end.  I tended to try and forget those dreams upon waking, and while it never really worked, I still never got that depressed over them.

However, I remember the moment I realized what exactly death was.  I was at one of the many funerals my dad’s side of the family frequently had (it seems like we were always attending a Tidmore or Dollar funeral) and staring at the body like you do (which is so weird to me, but that’s a story for another time).  I looked at the man’s hands and realized they were empty.  No blood flowing through the veins anymore.  And it made me cry for a few minutes before moving away and not thinking about it much afterward, except when I would attend another funeral and have to relive that.

When my aunt, my dad’s sister, died, I was sixteen, and she was cremated, so there was no body to have to stare at during a visitation.  It was a welcome change from the usual thought process I had to go through during an open-casket service.  Instead, the mere absence of said person made us focus on the memories more — at least, it did in my case.  I suppose I can’t speak for others, but I know I much preferred a “memorial service” for a person instead of a visitation and burial.

Still, I never really got used to seeing a lifeless person, and had never seen anybody die or walked in to find a lifeless someone, until my dad.  Like with most stuff in life, when it rains it pours, and six months and three days later, I witnessed a similar thing with my grandmother; however, it was more forgiving with my grandmother to me.  It was an extremely strange experience to walk into the room and see my dad, only not my dad as I remembered him, lying on the bed, unable to respond or move.  I was eighteen.  He was cremated, thankfully, because I’m not sure I would’ve been okay with seeing him in a funeral setting.  And the memorial service we held for him was a good one, I feel.  We spoke of him, had multiple people come up and share funny stories (well, if it involved him, it was usually a funny story) and had slideshows on our laptops and picture boards filled with different photos.

But just like that, you never get to hear a person’s voice again, or feel their hand squeeze yours, or hear their heavy footsteps on the hardwood floor, when hours before I’d gotten to hear his voice.  It’s true that no matter how expected a death can be, it will always seem too sudden, but with him, it really was.  Sure, we knew the end was soon, but definitely not that night, especially after the hospice nurse seemed to think he was all right (well, as all right as someone with Stage IV cancer could be, I suppose).  However, he was still in the house — that is, his boots were still on his side of the bed beneath the window in my parents’ room, his wardrobe with the open door and his clothes hanging inside still in the right-hand corner, the ugly lamp/radio thing he had on his night table.

Now, we’ve changed our house so much — for the better, if you ask me — with many renovations having gone on, bright walls instead of dark, wooden panelling, a ramp out front, hanging porch flowers, and much of the furniture that cluttered the different rooms stored away.  While good for helping us make the house ‘ours’ — as in, my mom’s and my house — now that it wasn’t ‘ours,’ as in my mom and dad’s, it still sometimes makes the absence of my dad a strange thing.

Some days it feels as though he’s been gone for ten years, when it hasn’t even been three yet (October 6 will be three years).  Some days it feels as if I never even knew my father, and that he was just someone I dreamt up, which is probably ridiculous seeing as how I’m proof he existed.  But if you’ve lost someone close to you, you probably can relate to what I mean.  And sometimes, rarely even, it feels as though I saw him just last week.  Watching home movies is an incredibly strange experience, as is hearing the recording I made him record on his cell phone one time.  It confirms that I did, indeed, have a father, that he sounded just like I remember, and that he’s now gone.  It brings such strange emotions bubbling to the surface, that I just have to either sniffle or cry for a few minutes, and then move on.

While sometimes I feel like asking, “What did I do to deserve losing my father at eighteen?”  And while a tough one to stomach, I’ve really dealt so well with my dad’s death because it really changed me in some good ways.  Who’s to say I wouldn’t have changed in these ways had he not gotten sick and passed away?  Who knows?  But I attribute most of it to the horrible situation, because somewhere, somehow, there’s most likely even the tiniest sliver of something positive in a bad situation.

But the inevitability of death that I truly realized when this near-invincible father died really prodded something awake in me.  I realized I didn’t want to go my whole life without making important amends, and I emailed (or Facebook messaged, rather) my childhood best friend, someone I’d lost touch with in seventh grade when middle school hormonal-rage went down, apologizing for everything and explaining all that was going on and how it helped me realize that life is too damn short for regrets, and for being passive.  I had to be aggressive in dealing with my regrets, and do something about them rather than lament on them.  So Hannah and I made amends, I grew more confident in myself, and while I’m still trying to find steady courage within myself, I feel this whole mentality of “what if something happens and I didn’t take this opportunity?” always is in the back of my mind.  And instead of continuously lamenting over my father, which will not bring him back nor will it make his absence any easier to deal with, I’ve held onto the memories, but still live enough in the present so that I don’t “forget to live” (as Dumbledore wisely said once).

One day, one step at a time, though.  I guess that’s all I can do.  And I think Dad and Nana would be proud of who I’ve become and am striving to become.  I know I’m pretty happy with who I am.

Now that all that’s out of my system, I’m exhausted.  I hope this means I can sleep finally.

PS: Yes, Kevin, I used a Coldplay song title as my title.  You wanna fight about it?

LambJam 2010: Day One

We met David and Mona to follow them, leaving around 8:30 Central time.  I slept for about two hours and woke up in time for us to drive through Ocoee, which has beautiful rivers (maybe just one river) with pretty rapids and waterfalls.  I had flashbacks to driving to UNC-Asheville for the COPLAC conference in November, except the foliage wasn’t colourful autumn shades this time — just a ton of green, which was, of course, also pretty.  We stopped briefly at a Tail of the Dragon-themed shop and continued on our way.  If you don’t know about the Tail of the Dragon, it’s a road that curves 318 times in an eleven-mile stretch of road.  Then we came upon The Dragon — not the Tail — and by the time we arrived in Fontana, I felt nauseous.  And I NEVER get carsick.

Once we checked in, we stopped by the other cabin some of our family’s renting (we originally counted sixteen coming — all seven of Nana’s grandchildren/me and my cousins, and Nana’s five children plus four spouses; then we found out the oldest cousin’s bringing his girlfriend, and the cousin who just got married is bringing his wife, so that’s eighteen people — so we decided to split the family between two cabins).  We pigged out on cherry tomatoes and blueberries my aunt and uncle in Dahlonega, GA, grew and picked themselves.  Finally, we went to our own cabin, which is the bigger of the two, and threw all our stuff in the rooms, explored a bit (we have a hot tub!  I have yet to try it out though…), and went back to the other cabin.

The ice cream shop next to the general store here at the resort looked incredibly tempting, and we had to get some supplies anyway, so we stopped inside.  I had two scoops of mint chocolate chip ice cream in a waffle cone, and don’t regret it a bit.  It was delicious, even if eating it out on the porch was annoying purely because of the Miata convention going on here this weekend (which has been a continuing source of annoyance for us, and I’ll explain why).

Then me, Gray (youngest cousin, who’s now eighteen — my God!), and Nell (Gray’s mom) all went to the pool — me with one of Nell’s swimsuits since I didn’t bring mine — and spent a good two hours there.  I mostly talked with Gray about Star Trek, which was AWESOME.

Then we fixed omelettes for Nell, Tommy, and us of course, but they weren’t really omelettes.  They were more like…scrambled eggs plus yellow bell peppers, onions, spinach, and tomatoes…and cheese of course.  Then after Kelly and Vivian (cousin and aunt, respectively) arrived, we all went back to our cabin — the bigger cabin — and hung out until around 9, when the others went back to their cabin.  We went to bed not long after that, because we were all exhausted.  And something very bizarre happened to my mom and I, who are sharing a bed, that woke us up at 11:45 pm.  But I’ll write about that later.  I’m still not over it.

So that’s it for Day One of LambJam 2010 (so named because we’re mostly Lambs, except for Rob and I, the children of Nana’s daughters).  A group of us is planning on going rafting tomorrow on the Nantahala, and today I’ll probably swim more and maybe hike a bit on the part of the AT that’s here, maybe some other trails too.  The rest of the people are due to arrive today, so it may get a lot more interesting tonight.

Last night I could’ve stayed out on the porch all night.  The moon and stars were gorgeous with the mountains in the distance.  It’s nice, except for the Miata jerks — about which, again, I’ll go into detail more later.  I bought a green frosted Fontana shot glass for myself for my 21st birthday.  Appropriate, y/y?

’til next time, then.  I need to take more pictures.  I haven’t taken any here — that’s just a travesty.

nobody said it was easy

Things I Really Miss

-Saturday and/or Sunday morning breakfasts, complete with handmade biscuits, bacon, eggs (sometimes fried and left in the oven in the skillet until I woke up, other times scrambled, even if my dad did them kind of strangely), sometimes sausage, and grits.

-The sound of boots he wore like these clunking as he shuffled on the hardwood floors. His trademark outfit of blue denim. His sandals that he made from old boots (only him, I swear). His jeans-turned-into-shorts that frayed at the ends and had patches from holes he’d covered (thank god for that one).

-The dulcet tones of his table saw and band saws whirring from his wood-shop in the sticky summer heat, constant hammering, and the sounds of the air compressor running in the back-backyard.

Beggarticks sticking to my clothes as I kept him company in the back-backyard.

-His cussing and general bad attitude during and after working on a car — yes, I miss even this.

-His snoring…okay, maybe not this one.

-Falling asleep during NASCAR and then springing awake and griping when we change the channel…okay, again, maybe not this one.

-Walking into the ‘big shop’ and hearing Frank Zappa playing on a crappy old tape. And our running joke of “the crux of the biscuit is the apostrophe.”

-Laughing with Mom at his cowlick when he’d wake up from a nap on the couch.

-Him making us late yet griping that we weren’t ready fast enough when HE was the last one getting ready.

-Playing basketball until our hands were covered in dirt and the sun had gone down.

-Riding our bikes on the sandy roads behind, near, around the rustic cabins of Gulf Shores, and pointing out the ‘cacti’ that was our shared fascination.

-His hugs.

-The SS Monte Carlo with the tee-tops and the radio almost always tuned to 99.5.

-His Octagon soap even if it did turn the bottom of the behemoth-tub brown.

-Our goodnight out-loud ‘kiss-kiss.’

-The way he said “all right” — “ah-aht” — and the way he said “oil” — “ahl”

-Past-midnight marathons of Food Network shows, making fun of the Barefoot Contessa and imitating Giada de Laurentis’ ridiculous accent on some of her words (mozzarella, tomato), mocking Guy Fieri’s stupid sunglasses and hair, being amazed by Ace of Cakes, talking about Emeril’s ego and imitating “BAM!”, hating Bobby Flay’s put-on New York-asshole attitude, etc.

-Encouraging/congratulatory text messages, notes, and funny drawings accompanying such notes.

-His appearance at all of my dance recitals, band concerts, football games, anything I participated in, aka his unending support.

Things I’m Sad He’ll Miss

-My college graduation.

-Walking me down the aisle at my wedding.

-Holding my child, spoiling my child, and making my child little trinkets and furniture, ‘cause I know he’d do that sort of stuff.

-Making me more ceiling-high bookshelves (seriously).

-Growing old with my mom.

-Visiting me at work more often and when he’s feeling better.

Complete Sentences and Paragraphs

I see what people mean about the loss getting easier with time. It’s not that it gets easier, but it’s that you can manage day-to-day more easily and you can go weeks without crying instead of just days. Tears cleanse the soul, and all that jazz, but it’s nice to cleanse less often because you can tell your friends funny or quirky things they would do and not get extremely depressed over it. Their memory lives on in stories and pieces of their own personality you picked up and carry with you and show people.

The other day I found my old Motorola Razr, which held some amazing memories, things I’d totally forgotten about. In the sounds, amidst way too many ringtones, was a recording he’d taken as a test on his old phone that I’d transferred over shortly after he died and I discovered it. It was simple, and the first few seconds are blank, but then his voice, deep and Southern but not redneck, comes through the speakers: “I love you.” The ‘you’ is drawn out, the ‘love’ has a higher inflection on it, and it was him.

Hearing it gave me such a strange feeling. I felt like I’d been punched in the gut, but an incredible amount of love flooded through me, as incredibly clichéd and cheesy as that sounds. There are still home videos in which he’s very alive, and very personable, and some in which he’s pretty grumpy because he’s renovating our kitchen, but he’s there. And if I can’t have him back in person, this really is the next best thing.

Spend time with your parents (if you have a more-than-awkwardly-civil relationship with them) as often as you can, even if they sometimes (or more than sometimes, if that’s the case with you) drive you crazy.  Someday you’ll wish they were around to drive you crazy.

I miss you, Dad.