Tonight was my dad’s yahrtzeit, the Jewish anniversary of his passing. It’s hard to believe it has been 13 years since I sat beside his bed and talked to him the night before he slipped into a non-reversible coma.
For some reason this anniversary has been more emotional than many in the past. As a communication coach I say we are lucky if our audience remembers one thing about us. When I think of my dad I have so many memories.
I can still see my dad meeting me at the exit gate of every horse show class I ever showed in. His heavy video camera slung over one shoulder, a towel to do last minute clean ups on the other shoulder, a hair brush sticking out of his back pocket for last minute horse touch ups before I hit the ring. All while wearing his baggy dad jeans. He would almost always find something good to say about my ride as we made our way back to the stalls.
I still think of my dad videotaping every class I rode in since the early 80’s. In the beginning the mobile video cameras were heavy. It didn’t stop him. He videotaped every class so I could learn from each ride. I would study the classes over and over again. If I won I would watch the ride with my fingers crossed, hoping that the end result would not change. If I had not won, I would watch the class praying for a different outcome.
From March through Nationals in October I would work the horses five days a week. Every time I got done working a horse, my dad would magically appear from whatever chore he had been doing. He would hold Impi, Goddess, Starfire or Stormi so I could give them a warm water absorbine bath. Every time.
He would wait with me as I was waiting to enter the show ring. I would position myself to enter the ring first. He would stand with me, quietly. No last minute instructions, just his presence. His last words would always be, “raise ‘em up and go with ‘em”. Then he would get to his perch in the arena so he could video the class.
I was the last kid in the neighborhood to give up my bicycle’s training wheels. The only way he got me to give them up was to become my training wheels. He would keep one hand on the back of my bicycle as I pedaled back and forth in front of our house. Back and forth, back and forth he would keep one hand on the bike and run along with me. Patiently he waited for me to be ready to go without the wheels and without him. First I gave up the wheels and then I gave up him. I was always slow to give him up.
On one hand I miss him a lot. But on the other hand I talk to him every day. I talk to him and I ask him for advice but I don’t get to see him. In my mind I see him standing there, arms folded across his chest, a slight smile crossing his lips. I wish I could really see him.