On my Dad's 80th birthday a few months ago, we had the privilege of celebrating his life while he was still alive. So I'm not going to talk about his biography, or his love of soccer, world history, chocolate, and good wine and food. But I do want to talk about our relationship and some of my most memorable moments with my Dad.
None of us could doubt my Dad's love. He was always there for my Mom, Doris and me - as a positive role model, the family provider, my mentor, a trusted advisor, and my cheerleader too. Many of my earliest memories of my childhood revolved around the times I spent with my Dad. When I was about 3 or 4, he took me to the market every Saturday morning, to pick up a small jar of caviar, quickly returning home to toast a piece of bread so we could make a caviar sandwich. I discovered that caviar was a delicacy, and felt extra special that I was learning about the finer things in life at such an early age.
I'm sure you all know that my Dad simply loved kids - especially his and mine! He truly loved spending time with us. I think I was around 5 when I began to notice how my friends were being left at home with the sitter, when their parents went out at night. I felt lucky that this didn't happen at our home as much. Although my parents were very social and loved going out with their friends on Saturday nights, my Dad always found ways to entertain and treat Doris and I to nights out on the town, whether it was going to China Town for dinner, or to a drive-in movie. He used to turn the back seat of the car into a bed, and ensured that we arrived at the drive-in early, to buy treats and play on the rides before the movie started.
As a young child, I loved my parents' cocktail dinner parties – the ones they hosted at our home in Bellevue. They always dressed Doris and me in fancy matching dresses, made us feel extra special, and let us socialize and hang out with their friends. It was a blast – we always felt welcome during their adult get-togethers. I loved watching my Dad bar-tend, joke with his friends, play Zorba the Greek records, and encourage his friends to join in while he energetically danced the night away.
As I got older, I became more appreciative of my Dad's unselfish and forgiving personality. If I needed a ride to the airport, before I had a chance to even ask, he was offering. I remember when Craig and I didn't show up at the Eastgate Park and Ride, in time for my Dad to pick us up on our way to the airport. He didn't get mad, he just took us there anyhow, and of course we missed our flight, so he helped us reschedule, and then proceeded to treat us to breakfast at 13 Coins while we waited for the next flight.
Many of you may already know this, but my Dad was not always real fond of dogs, especially big ones. Craig and I had an enormous yellow lab named LB. When Craig traveled for business, my Dad would not let me stay home alone. So, I packed my clothes, and would spend the night with my parents. After work, I would pick my Dad up at my parents' home, and we would drive many miles to my home on the plateau so he could keep me company while I fed LB. He was so mesmerized by how fast LB could inhale a bowl of food. I really think my Dad's opinion of dogs changed after he fell in love with ours.
Of course, he cherished every family member, our dog included. I didn't think I could witness someone having so much love, and caring so much about their family, until Makena was born. That was when my Dad became Papu. Everyone knows how devoted my Dad was to Makena. After he retired from Boeing, Papu became Makena's full time Nanny, arriving at our home early every weekday, and the only thing he asked that I have waiting for him was a cup of coffee. He always said that taking care of Makena was the most rewarding job he had – and the most expensive one too (dozens of Barbie dolls, 100's of lunches at restaurants with Makena). I have so many fond memories of him instantly crawling on the floor to play with her after he took his one sip of coffee. The games and stories he created, the boundless energy he expended to keep her happy and entertained, were everlasting. When Craig and I would return home from work at night, the cup of coffee was still on the counter, cold and nearly full, and our rec room floor was always a mirage of little piggies and piglets, encased by large Legos which created an enormous house for all of Makena's stuffed animal characters to play in. When Papu was chauffeuring Makena in his truck, he always told her stories, some of them make believe. That Papu – he sure set a high standard for Craig and me. Makena expected us to tell her long and interesting stories during every car ride too. We simply could not keep up with his story-telling, and she let us know it.
I only saw my Dad cry once, while he valiantly fought Parkinson's. And that was when he told me that he was not going to be able to be with Makena during all of the major milestones in her life. As a parent, I was so honored to have a father that cared so much for my daughter. And yet he was the type of person who made you feel that he cared about you more than anyone else in the world. I hope he made you feel that way too.