Today would have been my dad’s 80th birthday. But he died in 2012, estranged from most of his family.
One thing I’ve tried to do in recent years is to try to focus on what he did right, instead of all the hurt he caused. For my healing and for my sanity. It’s not about excusing the bad… it’s about trying to focus on the good, even if the bad far out-weighed the good.
My dad knew how to plan a vacation. Specifically, he knew how to plan a Walt Disney World Vacation. Long before the internet and YouTube were even an idea in someone’s head, he would begin his research months in advance. He would buy “The Unofficial Guide to Walt Disney World” and would study the pages as if preparing for the LSATs. He would create a custom touring plan for us and make advanced dining reservations. We would stay at The Polynesian Resort and he would make us dining reservations at ‘Ohanas and Hoop Dee Doo Review. We ate at multiple character meals and take countless pictures. Chip ‘n’ Dale are still my faves.
He instilled in my siblings and I the importance of planning. On one trip, he assigned a park to me and one to my sister to plan and we were responsible for the entire day, down to each and every minute and where and when to dine. I remember feeling so much pressure, but it was a good learning experience and I’m thankful for it.
I’ve been thinking about my dad a lot lately as I’ve planned another trip back to see the Mouse. I’m thankful for the things he did right. I’m thankful that he taught us the importance of vacations and seeing new things and having fun. I’m thankful he taught us how to plan. And I’m thankful, even if he didn’t always show it, that he delighted in seeing us have fun.
I wish things had ended better. I wish he had known how amazing my kids are. I wish he could have seen them having a ball at Disney when they were little.
Happy birthday, Dad. I’ll eat a churro for you when we walk down Main Street in the Magic Kingdom.