Big Buddy

21 Dec

Every year at Christmas, I think about Frank. Usually, it’s right around the time I turn on the Christmas music and hear Mannheim Steamroller. Christmas was Frank’s favorite holiday and that was his very favorite Christmas music.

This year it is bittersweet x2. You see, in June of last year my father and I had a falling out. We no longer speak and probably never will again. It’s a long story that I will summarize by saying this: He was behaving very badly and didn’t like being called on it. He would rather lose his only child than apologize for treating her very badly. I simply obliged his decision. End of story.

So it was that yesterday morning, as I was driving to work with Christmas music on the stereo, Mannheim Steamroller came on and I thought of Frank. And I realized that if he were here now, today, I would have already asked him to walk with me down the aisle at my wedding. Not to give me away but to give me his love and support. And to be the father figure unlike any I ever had. And I cried.

I don’t have any good pictures I can really post of Frank and I. They are all in boxes or in frames in printed form. So instead of a pretty picture, today I’ll leave you with a journal entry I wrote 5 years ago, on the first anniversary of his passing. I love him every bit as much today as I did then. And I always will.

12-16-05 – 9:25 p.m.

Last night my mother and I battled the nasty ice storm to go to a Mannheim Steamroller concert. We had these amazing seats where we could see everything… even the expressions on their faces. We got totally geeked out and probably loved it way too much. And as we sat there and listened to those Christmas songs, we thought of Frank.

Frank was my mother’s husband for 20 years, and my step-father. I used to call him my “Big Buddy”. I don’t remember why. He was opinionated, difficult, and often completely tactless. He also loved me in a way that no man has ever loved me before. He was a father figure completely different from my own Dad, and he filled a spot in my life that I didn’t even know existed until he came along. He accepted me as his own daughter and always treated me as such. And he loved my mother completely. He also died one year ago today.

Frank loved Mannheim Steamroller, which was totally out of character for him. Until his love for them, he was strictly a banjo and guitar kind of guy. We couldn’t believe how much he loved their music. He always wanted to see them in concert, but they don’t come around very often and he never quite made it. Frank also loved Christmas. His two loves were perfectly met in every Christmas album Mannheim Steamroller produced. Every Christmas he would pull out their CDs and play them non-stop in his car for us. He would pause the songs when he felt there was something particularly spectacular about them. “Listen to that chord!” “Did you hear that?”

He got really difficult as he got older. Frank had dementia and was on a quick downhill slide into Alzheimer’s. His independence was his pride, and so he didn’t take the illness very well. He had a host of other physical issues which slowly ate away at him. For a retired cop, this was pure torture. So he got more and more difficult as he had a harder and harder time dealing with it. And, as time wore on, he became less and less aware of how difficult, and often mean, he could be.

But even through all of that, he loved me. Even as his health got progressively worse, he made sure he was there when I needed him. Frank was the kind of father figure who couldn’t stand to see his little girl get hurt. No one was ever good enough for me, and I could do no wrong. I’ll never be half the woman I was in Frank’s eyes.

So last night we watched Mannheim Steamroller perform and we thought of Frank. As I listened to “Deck the Halls”, I had a perfect picture of him pointing at the car stereo and asking me “Doesn’t it sound just like the Electric Light Parade?” It does. And I cried.

I miss you, Big Buddy. Merry Christmas.

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2 Responses to “Big Buddy”

  1. Kelly December 21, 2010 at 3:42 pm #

    I am thankful that you had Frank in your life. While the end wasn’t ideal, the memories that he created and the love he gave you was. I hope you have the merriest of holidays!

  2. Encore Bride December 28, 2010 at 10:30 am #

    I hope your holidays were/are fabulous! I was very lucky to have Frank for the time that I did. In the end, it’s the time we did have that matters, not the time we didn’t.

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