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Stories, Poems and Humor
Left Book Dad
by Nisius, Robin
Right Book

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He was a big man -- standing well over 6 feet tall and weighing nearly 300 pounds -- his black curly hair now white, shoulders broad enough to carry the weight of the world and with a heart as big as Texas.

He always had a smile on his face and a hearty laugh just bubbling beneath the surface. This wonderful man had no enemies.

To his many friends he was "Big Louie". To his wife he was "Lewis". To his many nieces and nephews he was "Uncle Boober".

To me, he was just "Dad".

And a wonderful dad he was. Always making excuses to celebrate, he made each day exciting. He never said anything bad about anyone and, despite his size, he was the most gentle man I have ever known. He loved life and his family with a devotion that would never fade over the years. After he retired, the highlight of his day was going to the post office every morning to get the mail and visit with his many friends.

He was never very organized, though, and although he loved his family unconditionally, never gave much thought to his own immortality. I always thought my dad would be there forever, and somehow, I think he believed that, too.

I can remember over the years, my mother fussing at him on many occasions that he didn't have "his affairs in order" and that if anything ever happened to him, my mother would not know where to start as far as claiming the benefits from his VA or his life insurance. In fact, my dad couldn't even remember which company held his life insurance policy. But, that never seemed to matter much to him, as, I believe, he thought he'd always be there to take care of us.

Dad was never one to do much shopping, but Christmas was his favorite time of the year. He would drive mom to the mall every year to do the Christmas shopping and would delight in all the gifts that she bought for everyone. When he wanted something special for one of us, he would tell mom to get it and she always would. Under the tree each year, our gifts would always say, from "Mom & Dad".

On December 8, 1994, Dad had been going to the post office that morning and suffered a massive heart attack while driving. He was in the hospital, alive, but on life support and wasn't expected to live. As I packed hurriedly, I remembered to bring along a Christmas ornament that I had bought the day before for my Dad. It was a beautiful angel perched atop a crystal ball. When I got to the hospital, I hung the angel at the head of his bed. He awoke just long enough to see each one of us and tell us that he loved us very much, and then he was gone.

How devastating for so many people to lose such a wonderful friend, husband, son, uncle and dad. He was, in so many eyes, the greatest man they had ever known. But this story doesn't end there.

When the shock of the funeral was finally over, we had the difficult task of taking care of business. Not knowing where to start, my mom and I began looking through tons of boxes that had accumulated over the years. We were looking for any kind of paperwork that would lead us to the life insurance policy that my Dad had. We searched for days and found nothing.

The top of their closet was already filled with Christmas presents that mom had bought. The only other thing in the top of the closet was a small chest that Dad had given her years ago. In that chest, she kept their marriage license and some old love letters he had written to her when he was in the Navy.

We took the chest down to get the Christmas presents out and wrap them, determined to go on with Christmas, in spite of our loss. We knew how much Christmas meant to Dad.

We were in for the shock of our lives.

As we pulled out the bags of gifts that needed to be wrapped, we discovered a bag of beautifully wrapped gifts. Mom was very surprised at this discovery, as she had not yet wrapped any gifts. When we began to pull them out one by one, we discovered that they were each tagged. "To Dona... from Lewis" was the first tag that we saw. Our hearts were breaking. There were gifts for all of us in that bag. My Dad had gone shopping alone, and had bought, wrapped and tagged gifts for each of us, and had hidden them in the back of the closet! He couldn't have known that he wouldn't be there since the heart attack was so sudden. But, somehow, he DID know! And he wanted us to know that he loved us and expected us to go on without him.

Mom picked up the chest to return it to the top of the closet, where it always sat. But, instead of returning it, she opened it. Inside, right on the top, was a bundle of papers tied neatly with a red and green ribbon. On the top, was a Christmas card for each of us, signed by my Dad. Underneath, was his life insurance policy, his Navy discharge and all the things that we had searched for and given up on days before.

Christmas that year was bittersweet for all of us, but we learned that Dad's love could transcend from the grave and touch us in the gentle and loving way that it always did when he was there.

Every Christmas since, I remember those wonderful gifts that he bought, but more than anything, I remember the wonderful MAN, and the way he loved and cherished his family more than anything on this earth.

And every year, I hang the beautiful angel ornament that is perched on the crystal ball, and I smile up at Dad and say, "Merry Christmas, Dad, I Love You."

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