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.