The world changed this past week. I took my dog out for a walk and the colors went crazy.
Even though it was 80 today, Autumn has arrived.
In this region of the world at this altitude, this means that even though it's 80 in the daytime, the second the sun slips behind the Rockies, it cools down quick.
What amazes me still is how quickly it happens. One week, you're running the air conditioner until 9 at night, and now there's no reason to turn it on at all, as by the time you get home it will have cooled off enough that you don't need it.
But with the change of the season also brings something of the blues to me.
My Dad died on October 25th many years ago -- he and Mom had just moved to Colorado from the Northwest, and the altitude was a factor (at least I think it was) to his heart problems, that resulted in his sudden death of a heart fibrullation at the all-too-young age of 58.
Julie & Her Dad, 1991
My Dad was Lutheran minister. Growing up, everyone who didn't know us well figured I was rebelling against him, since I did, in fact, rebel. But my Dad was my friend long before my Mom was, only because he'd been the wild child in his family growing up, and knew all too well that trying to make me into something I wasn't wouldn't work anyway.
He wrote poetry about his love for my Mom. He told me he loved me every day of my life, and his hugs were big bear hugs that only a man who adores his children could provide.
He had a very corny -- let's just call it dorky -- sense of humor, and nothing cracked him up like a good joke that involved it starting with a Priest, Rabbi & Lutheran Minister.
He played trumpet. He loved his Seattle Mariners, Seahawks and SuperSonics. I still hear my husband in the garage with the radio of a game on and think of Dad.
My Dad was good, kind, and the ultimate example of a person for me who recognized his flaws, yet rose above and made a point of helping those less fortunate. When I was young and we were poor, our house next door to the church was a stopping point for people in trouble. A family with no gas in their car would stop, and Mom would make sandwiches for all the kids and their folks, and Dad would go with the husband to help him fill up at the gas station. When someone stopped by looking for work, Dad helped them find a job.
When a drunk young man came looking for gas for his car, Dad got him to sit down for coffee before letting him go. Another time a young man on a motorcycle crashed his bike outside our kitchen window, and Dad and my brother rushed to help him. Months later, that man would come to our door with a cane, specifically to thank my Dad for helping save his life.
Dad also liked running interference with the Jehovah's Witnesses that would stop by on an occasional Saturday morning. He'd invite them in and involve them in long, drawn-out religious conversations knowing full well that they couldn't possibly convert him -- but he figured if they were in our house for a few hours, they wouldn't be out on the street finding other people to talk to. He was funny that way.
My Dad never had it easy. He was among the first latchkey children whose parents both had to work during the Great Depression, with parents who didn't show affection the way we do today. They had many nights of plain cabbage soup for supper. He worked hard until the day he died, and instilled a work ethic in us that remains to this day.
It was the first truly bad thing that had ever happened to me, and really at 25 I was probably overdue, but felt lucky up to that point. My Mom called me in Seattle, where I had just gotten home from an aerobics class, still sitting around in my early 1990s spandex, wondering what to do with the rest of that beautiful Sunday afternoon.
"I need you to be strong, Honey," Mom said. "But it looks like your Dad has had a heart attack. He's gone, Sweetheart."
It was the first time -- but not the last -- that I would realize that no matter how good you are, or think you are: bad things happen to all of us.
I dreamed about Dad last night. It was in the midst of being on the farm where I grew up, and I was sneaking outside to find my brother who smokes and see if I could bum a cigarette off of him for no particular reason. I was standing in my old back yard, when the bus from Denver that normally takes me to work showed up.
I love space and time warp dreams like that.
But in the midst of that dream stood my Dad -- in the driveway helping my husband and his family with something they had come over for.
His boundless love for us, and his decision to do things differently -- conscientious parenting -- made him a Dad that most kids only dream of.
But despite his loss, and the hole that comes with losing someone so loveable, he continues to live on in my dreams, and for that I am thankful.