Since my dad passed away in March there has been precisely one time that I thought of him and smiled. It happened when I opened up an email from my friend Craig Lancaster, who included my father in the dedication of his new book. Reading about this honor blew away all the grief and pain of missing him for a few moments as I sat back and thought, "God, dad would get a kick out of this."
As Craig explains in this blog post, he and my father never met. But dad was a big fan of Lanky (as some of his San Jose friends know him) long before he became a published author. I suspect my neon green 2002 Volkswagen Beetle had a lot to do with that.
Not long after I moved to San Jose, my pretty blue Saturn crapped out on me in a major way. And as a young, single female living paycheck to paycheck in a very expensive place, the idea of going out by myself to buy a new car was daunting. When I explained the situation to Craig, my new friend and colleague at the San Jose Mercury News, he kindly offered to climb into the ring with me and the scary, slick car salesmen. He relished the idea of beating those guys into submission, and beat them he did! As I watched in mostly silent awe, Craig spent an entire afternoon waving his fists, sputtering demands, poking holes in their sketchy math and stomping right out of the dealership until we got a gorgeous new car at the right price. He even got them to throw in a six-disk CD changer. It was a thing of beauty.
That evening I called my dad to tell him how the whole thing went down. Dad was always concerned about me and my transportation. He liked to remind me about oil changes and brake checks, and "How's the car doing?" was a question he asked regularly. But dad was a thousand miles away when my Saturn died, and he could do little to help me. So when he learned how Craig swooped in and saved the day, I could hear the relief in his voice. Dads appreciate when people do that sort of thing for their daughters.
Over the years, every now and then, dad would ask about Craig. Dad was an avid reader - books were something we bonded over my entire life - and he got so excited when I told him that Craig wrote a novel. Dad loved both "600 Hours of Edward" and Craig's second book, "The Summer Son." When Craig found out my dad was sick, he asked me for his email address. Late that evening, I got a text message from dad that said "Lanky sent me an email!!!" He felt so honored to hear directly from THE Craig Lancaster. Craig also mailed my dad signed copies of the books just days before he died, and as I opened up the package, dad warned me from his hospital bed to "be careful with those."
How I wish they could have met, and yet in my heart it somehow feels as though they were great old friends. Lanky, what a wonderful gift you have given me and all who loved my father - a joyful memory of him even after his death. If I close my eyes I can just picture the grin on his face if he could see this. He'd find it cool as hell.
p.s. I am bursting - just bursting! - with blog posts about my kids. But here's the big difference between having one and two: Now if I have a chance to sleep when the babies sleep, I freaking TAKE IT. But Alex, the little sleepless tyrant, appears to maybe be easing up a bit on the nighttime wakings, so maybe I'll be less exhausted soon. Maybe I'll even find more time for things like, you know, taking showers. Going to the bathroom. And blogging! In the meantime, here's a picture I took at breakfast a few weeks ago, Alex chilling on dad's shoulder while Mia devours her waffle.