He passed away over 10 years ago and, to this day, I cannot think or talk about him long without tearing up.
It's evident without saying, but for the sake of clarity, I love my dad and miss him terribly and want him back for Christmas.
This 44th Christmas of mine has been good; great, even.
Farley and I spent this morning at home, gathered around the tree – adorned with only blue twinkle lights and two ornaments, both of which were given to us – exchanging gifts with her two children.
After the morning festivities, and as it seems with modern families, the four of us split up to enjoy separate family gatherings for the remainder of the day.
The kids went with their father, and Farley and I made the short trip to see my mother.
It was in my mother's living room that thoughts of my late father occupied and then nearly overwhelmed me.
Remembering My Father
Other than the trees attractive but standardized aesthetic with white lights and silver baubles, hanging from one branch, in memory of my father as it always is, was a colorful Scottish bagpiper ornament.
Even though Farley has heard me say it the two previous Christmases we've been together, I let her know the bagpiper's significance.
Since both his parents were off-the-boat from Scotland, my father was first-generation American and proudly, albeit perhaps distantly, connected to his past.
And while I can get a little misty looking at the ornament memorializing my father, there was enough upbeat conversation between my mother, Farley, and me to keep me occupied.
It wasn't long into the conversation before my mother wanted to share photos with us.
On her phone were images that supported the stories she was telling of spending her Christmas morning spent at one of my brother's houses.
While scrolling through the kinds of pics that only a technologically challenged grandmother can take, I came across a small but wonderful photo album of my father.
Immediately I went into self-preservation mode, steeling myself from the embarrassing tears I knew I'd cry if given too much space to dwell on my father's absence.
Of the handful of pics, one stuck out from the bunch.
My Favorite Picture Of Us
In it, I'm sitting next to my father on a long-gone couch. Both of us are well-tanned; he, from his time enjoying sunbathing, and me from my time working on a lobster boat.
I'm looking cocky and straight at the camera, and at that age (24-ish), combined with working on the boat and being in the best shape of my life, I was feeling cocky, too.
While sitting to my father's left, my right arm is thrown over his shoulders.
My dad is sitting square to the camera with his arms crossed, and his head turned to look at me. On his face is a smile I wish I could see every day of my life: my father looked happy and proud of me.
And after living such a disappointing, unfulfilled, selfish, and nearly meaningless life, I long to be a child my dad can be proud of.
It's only over the past couple of years, several since his death, that I've turned my life around enough that my dad could be proud of me.
Consistently and sincerely proud.
Why He'd Be Proud Now
What I wouldn't give to have him back; to show him that I'm not a black-out drunk anymore; that I work hard, and help support a household; that I took a college class, got my head right, and stand upright with my shoulders back and can look him in the eye knowing that I'm trying my best.
I miss you, dad. I miss you so much. Please know that I'm trying and think I'm someone you'd be proud to call your son.