Jul 21, 2008

HAPPY BIRTHDAY, DAD

This is Dad. Mr. Robert P. Rich. He would have been 76 years old today. This probably explains why I have been fighting off the boo-hoos all damn day long. I miss him so much I think I think my heart will break.

This man was a hero. He was a kind and gentle soul. He lived in "houses with women" all his life.....first Grandma and Aunt Lou (because his own father died so young) and then Mom, me, and Chrissy. He used to joke that even the dog (Charlie) was "fixed". This probably explains why he was the way he was. I don't think I ever heard him raise his voice or say a bad thing about any one or any thing. He was funny and ornery and had twinkly eyes, especially when he was hiding cookies in his shirt pocket. You could talk to him for hours or just sit and watch a football game on a Saturday afternoon, and you'd come away feeling better about yourself and the world you lived in. You could depend on him for anything and knew that no matter how much you had royally screwed up, he was still your dad and he loved you.

He loved chocolate and Snyder's hard pretzels. He always smelled nice and he always combed his hair the same way. He didn't like guilt or mean people and he quietly went about making his little corner of the world a wonderful place. He never bragged or lectured. He never hit or grounded. He talked and explained and made you want to be a better person so that he would be proud of you. He hugged and patted your cheek and always let you know how special you were, even when you felt like the least special person on the planet.

Dad could do math in his head and Chrissy and I called him Rain Man because of his ability to do this. He went to Notre Dame and graduated as an engineer, but spent all of his working life as a management executive for Westinghouse. Chrissy and I never knew how "powerful" or "respected" Dad was until he died and his former collegues wrote to us. We found out that this man we loved wasn't just our hero....he had fans all over the world.

The men that came to the funeral told us that our dad was the smartest guy they ever met and the women told us that they all had secret crushes on him. Turns out that this guy we thought was a "nerd" was actually a very popular fellow and could be the life of the party.

Dad married the love of his life on May 23, 1964 and he held her in his arms the morning she died on November 12, 1987. Dad loved Mom more than anything in this world and he gave life to Father Hesburgh's words: "The greatest thing a man can do for his children is love their mother."
I think that the reason why Chrissy and I remain single is that we decided that we saw what perfect marriage was and we weren't going to settle for anything less.

Happy birthday, Dad. We miss you.

20 comments:

  1. Your Daddy is in heaven and smiling down on you, Coni.

    A very heart-touching tribute, I didn't even know him and I'm sitting here crying my eyes out.

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  2. What beautiful memories you have, thanks for sharing.

    Debbie

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  3. What a lovely tribute to your father. Thank you for sharing your memories with us.

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  4. What a wonderful post about your Daddy. He sounds like he was a wonderful guy. No wonder you miss him so much!

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  5. That was a wonder tribute to you father. Thank you for sharing that with us.

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  6. Oh Coni, what a great tribute. I know he is in heaven blogging to everyone to read this. It really touched me and now I feel like I know even more about you and Crys. Thanks for sharing your life with all of us.

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  7. Thanks for sharing these precious memories of your father.

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  8. Happy Birthday to your angel dad, God Bless you and Chrissy

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  9. Your father sounds so much like mine it's amazing (right down to being an engineer). I married because I wanted to experience at least something like the wonderful relationship that my parents experienced. There is no way jose that I would have missed out on creating family as my parents did before me. Funny how we all have a different take on life, huh?

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  10. What a wonderful and moving tribute to your dad - he musst be looking down with pride.
    Reading it made me think of my own dad... and I think your very last sentence may be one of the reasons I never married.

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  11. What a wonderful father. He must be truly missed. I am sure he is very proud of both you and your sister.

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  12. Hi Coni,

    {{{{{{ HUGS }}}}}}

    Just returned from a Wake this morning for a dear friends mother. Sigh...

    Cynthia
    Windy Meadow

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  13. Such a wonderful, loving tribute to your father Coni....I'm sorry he's gone. Thank you for sharing..

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  14. A wonderful tribute to your dad Coni - thanks for sharing

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  15. Thank you Coni, for allowing all of us to read this tribute to your Father. It made me appreciate my own Father that much more, who is also an Engineer who does math in his head. They are also much the same age, and my poor father is always in a family of women--5 daughters and all the pets female. Thank you for reminding me that my Father won't always be around, and not to waste the time I have left with him. You do your Father proud!

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  16. Constance!!
    That was simply a wonderful tribute to your Dad, who I was fortunate enough to meet, and I'm glad that you have and will always have all the wonderful memories of him, because I know how much it hurts to miss the ones we loved so much! Thinking of you today, as always, and sending lots of hugs OOOOOOOOOOOOOOOto you and Chrissy!
    Cheryl Ann

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  17. Thanks for sharing your memories of your Dad. So very special.

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  18. Coni,
    What a lovely tribute to your father. You are blessed to have had such a wonderful relationship with him.
    -SG

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  19. Ah - how blessed you are to have had such a wonderful father. I lost my dad in October and still think of him every single day. Probably always will.

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