I'm having a hard time grasping it. I found out earlier today that the man that I considered my dad for over half of my childhood passed away about a week ago. The news is hitting me harder than I ever thought it could.. and I know it's just a small part of what his real kids and family are going through.
I hadn't talked to him in years, ever since him and my mother split, but I still consider him the man that was there in my life who shared parenting with my mom from the time I was 6 to when I was 17. When he was home from the road, he picked up the slack that my own father had left. He was vital in helping shape who I have turned into today. He helped teach me how to ride a bike. How to clean house. He demanded respect, and taught me how to respect others. He stood his ground when a few of my high school boyfriend's crossed the line in relating to me.
He was a grand man. Might not have been by blood, but he was strong, independent, and awesome. And, for the most part, he treated me just like his own kids. We might not have been a typical family, but some of my favorite childhood memories involve some summers of us five kids and mom and Jeff all in one house, with Friday/Saturday night pizza nights when he got home from working, and watching him work in the shed, to getting rides in the semi. My first memories that involve him was when it was nighttime and he needed to get to work. I'd wake up, slung over his shoulder bouncing along as he carried me to the car. (Being that I couldn't be left home alone while mom took him to work (we had one car at the time).
My regret? Being a pain in the ass teenager, not trying to show him what I felt and how thankful I was that he was there. I know he was nowhere near perfect, and we had nowhere near the perfect 'family' life.. but we made it work.
For some reason, this is the song that's been stuck in my head all day in reference to writing something in memorial of him.
(And, whenever I hear a semi or smell diesel.. it actually brings back my memories from being a kid, in a fond way.)
And to my 'unofficial' step-sibilngs, thanks for treating me like the pain in the butt little sister I was. If you ever need anything, I'm here, just ask.