Much Obliged by Peggy Bogaard-Lapp
“Growin’ up leads to growin’ old, and then to dyin’. Dyin’ to me don’t sound like all that much fun.” -John Mellencamp, The Authority Song
I was a later child myself. My mom was 32 when I was born, Dad was 40; I was 14 years behind my sister and brother. It wasn’t until after mom died that I found out the reason for the long distance of time between us. Our parents had been separated for many months, and had finally reconciled, and along I came. I wish mom had told me because I had sometimes wondered if I had been adopted, but the truth was much more romantic.
Growing up, I was more like an only child – my brother was married when I was 5, and my sister moved to Florida with a boyfriend shortly after that. No one had ever explained the 14 year gap or why I suddenly appeared after all that time. At the time, I didn’t really think about the future and what would happen when I, and my parents, grew older.
My daughter’s life often mirrors my own childhood. She is around her parents all the time, and that also means she has adult conversations around her all the time too. I was tucking her into bed and we were chatting about her upcoming 10th birthday. It’s hard for her to decide what “theme” to have. Little Mermaid is out, although that is still her favorite princess. Suddenly my princess was in tears. I asked her why, and she said, “I don’t want to grow up! If I grow up, then that means you get older and someday you will die and I will be alone.”
I never thought much about it as a kid, but I had faced the same dilemma. Fortunately my parents raised me to be independent and self sufficient. They openly talked about money with me, and every so often Dad would show me a statement of his investments so that I knew where it all was. So, when I was 32 I had some preparation for losing my dad, at least when it came to the money. The personal loss, however, was nothing I could have prepared for. My dad was a huge part of my life – being the last child, daddy’s little girl, and around at a time when my parents had more time and money for me – I had his full attention. We went camping, and on many weekend adventures. He taught me to drive, and parallel park like no one else, to check the oil on my car, and to pinch my pennies and be frugal, and to spend wisely. He was polite, and I heard him say “much obliged” often, his way of saying thanks. Dad taught me that a man should love and respect a woman, and that there are many things you do for the ones you love.
Surprisingly, he was raised in a foster home with his brother, abandoned by his mother and his father unable to care for them, and yet was not a bitter or hard hearted man. He was a great dad, and I am thankful for the time I had him, and for the person he helped me become. He also set the tone for what kind of father I wanted for my own child. I am sorry that Erica did not get to meet her grandpa, but I hope that I speak of him often enough, and point out things I remember about him, so she knows a little about the man who was my dad. For that, I am much obliged.