Monday, December 5, 2011

Happy Birthday Daddy!

I lost my father to cancer almost 6 years ago. He would have been 80 years old today and boy would we have thrown a huge party in his honor!! My father was the center of my life. His death left an enormous hole in my heart that can never be filled. He made me feel like the most important person in the room every time I was around him. He could always make me smile; he could always make me laugh; he could always make me forget about whatever it was that was bothering me. He “got” me. He understood me more than any person on this planet, and there is no substitute for that kind of acknowledgment. I miss him in a way that is so enormous and so huge—I can not possibly convey it. One of my earliest memories of Dad making me feel special was at the age of 4. He would scoop me out of bed during dinner parties in Hong Kong and bring me out into the living room to twirl me around and dance to the party-music. He told me I was the fairy-princess of the party, and I believed him. I remember the Magic Shows he would put on after dinner-parties in Atlanta where I would be his lovely assistant who magically floated above sharp swords. I remember all the times he played his Accordion. “Wooden Heart” and “Dominique” will always make me think of him. There are so many wonderful memories from our house in Atlanta…the Dogwood club-house he built me in the backyard; the little play-house he built me in the basement which later became his Darkroom; working together in his workshop and rolling down our backyard hill in one of the kinling barrels, which he would empty out for us. I can remember when the grass was so long in our side yard, and Dad mowed it into a maze for us to run and play in. I remember many afternoons riding on the back of his riding mower holding on to my dad. I remember when I suffered my first broken heart at the age of 17. I cried for hours in my bedroom and swore I’d never be the same. Dad came into my room and took me in his arms. He promised me that it wouldn’t hurt forever, and he was right—it didn’t. He was always right about those things. I experienced “Engine Failure” on a flight in 1999 that kept me from flying for the next 2 years. When it finally came time to take that next “first flight”; my dad was sitting right there next to me in the airport. He bought me a drink to “calm my nerves” and sat with me until I boarded the plane, and he winked at me when I looked back. He was always there for the important stuff! My dad was the best Carpenter on the planet—he could make anything! I was spoiled by this luxury as he renovated by first home in Hayden, CO; my second home in Fort Myers and my third home in Kansas City. As we have moved into 2 different homes since then, I haven't known what to do with myself. My “Daddy List” remains long and unattended. When I was pregnant with my first child and put on moderate bed rest; Dad went out and got me lots of puzzles. He sat there with me and put them together—making it seem like the funnest thing anyone could possibly be doing at that moment. That first childbirth was the hardest thing I’d ever done. It was 23 hours of grueling labor and I was exhausted. Family & friends rushed into the room to meet the baby after waiting so long. My dad did not go immediately to the baby, but rather came over to my side to see if I was okay. He took my hand and gave me a look that I will never forget—a look of pure empathy and love and compassion and pride for what I’d just been through. He always “got” me—always. I had health-complications after this delivery that left me sick for several weeks. Dad had been staying with us during the majority of that time; but he needed to return home and get back to work. He told me good-bye on a morning when my husband was taking me to see a new doctor. He told me he loved me and he wished me good-luck. When I returned home that day; I noticed Dad’s truck still in the driveway. When I asked him why he was still there; he said he just couldn’t leave until he knew I was feeling a little better. His love was enormous! I came home to visit mom & dad when I was about 5 months pregnant with my 2nd child. I remember trying on a dress for my parents that I had just purchased, and asking their opinion. Dad looked at me with glossy eyes and said, “I swear—there’s nothing more beautiful on this earth than a pregnant woman.” He meant it too! It made me feel so good and so confident and so loved. He always knew when to dote! When that Baby William Prenni was born—Frank William’s namesake; I could tell that Daddy was just smitten with him. Will may not remember his Grandpa when he grows up, but he will know that his Grandpa held him and adored him! I thank God for that. And OH how he would have adored Miss Laine. She would have had him wrapped around her little finger. I'm so sad he didn't get to know her. There are certain things that will forever bring memories of my father: Expressions like… “Go to your Room!” “I don’t want to cause any problems or anything, but…” “You Buffoon…” “That’s awful RUDE of you.” “A.H….meaning Anita Honey.” “NFD”…No family discounts.” “Hey Booby!” “R.B.” – Refreshing Beverage And those famous 10 words… “Who will join me for a cocktail on the beach?” Foods like: Garlic bologna sandwiches, mom’s hush puppies, meatloaf & canned peas; peanut-butter & banana sandwiches; onion rings; hot-dogs; milk with ice-cubes; cake for breakfast; big orange; moon-pies. As much as I adored my father; I know what a presence he was in many lives. He was blessed with many many friends, and a large and loving family. He may not be here anymore but he left an imprint on many hearts. I miss you daddy...every day. Life hasn't been the same without you. Happy Birthday! Hope you're celebrating big up there. Can't wait to see you again one day. Until then, I will think of you every time I hear that train in the distance.


  1. Annie, what a beautiful post. So much love flowing out. I feel like I know him a little more after reading this. Audrey sang "happy birthday" to him yesterday and when she was done she asked if there would be a piñata. I always hear such great things about him from you all, such special memories to remember him by.

  2. Your a very fortunate girl to have such wonderful and loving memories of your Dad. He loved you equally and treasured every moment he spent with you. Not every girl is a Daddy's Girl in the same way you were. Thanks for sharing this love and warmth on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

  3. When I think of the one person I am most looking forward to seeing again in heaven, it is your Dad. Hands down. "My favorite uncle" does not accurately describe the way I feel about him. I say "feel" because I know he is still around. I see him every time I hear your laugh, or listen to a funny story you tell so well the way he would. He has got to be SO PROUD of you, girl. So Proud.