To this guy:
My Dad. Look at him, so young and handsome here, pictured with his Dad and grandmother some time in the 1950s. Little did he know then what the future held for him: his conversion to the Catholic Faith, his long career in the Navy, his marriage to my Mom at the age of 30 -- and then the seven children who followed. The joys and sorrows, the long hours and short years. I wonder what he would have thought if you'd told him back then that he'd d have seventeen grandchildren and two great grandchildren before Father's Day, 2014?
He might not have said much... just raised his eyebrows and bugged out his big cow brown eyes in that familiar way of his. Unfortunately, because of the ravages of alzheimers, he can't tell us what he thinks nowadays. But we can guess. His memories are ours now and his reactions have always been tried and true, solid, dependable. He'd get mad over a light left on, but barely blink an eye at the sudden realization of all these grandchildren and great grandchildren. It was always the big picture with my Dad. Feeding us, keeping us safe and sheltered, saving our souls. Those were his chief goals.
He can't tell us any of that now, though -- and he can't fuss at us for lights left on -- but it's all still there. He'll always be here on this earth in a particular way, living on in all of his seven children, seventeen grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. And their children, and their children's children. His influence so honorable, so faithful and true, his loving care, his duty and his vigilance -- usually unspoken anyways -- lives on in us. And, regardless of his diminished state right now, we still love him and honor him. Always have, always will.
Happy Fathers' Day, Dad. You'll read this post in heaven; I know it. And I know just the silly face you'll make because it will embarrass you, my saying all this. And I'm taking that as a thank-you right now. (Whether you like it or not. I love ya, Dad.)