November 18, 2012
Peter… Peter pan. Peter Parker. Peter Gabriel. Remember that song, “Sledgehammer”? What a great jam! The Pied Piper of Hamlin, pretty sure his name was Peter (if not it should have been.) Faulk, Boyle, Graves, Sellers, and Ustinov… just a few of my favorites.
But my most favorite, Peter Trepak, my dad.
Or Pete as he would have it.
Growing up with Daddy was easy for awhile. I owe him for my love of libraries, Indy car races, hockey, and NFL football. His wisdom taught me to take things easy as they come. Don’t get too upset about what I can’t change or fix and always know somehow it will get better.
His vision was to see the joy in little things. Like fishing without catching anything, touchdown victory dances when the Bears scored, playing stupid silly made up games in the pool like ledge people, and photographing simple nature shots.
It was this simple wisdom that helped me through some of my toughest years. It was pure irony that later his alcoholic behavior would cause so much of my unhappiness. His favorite gifts to give me were books. One year for Christmas he bought me a monster-thick little book entitled, “14,000 Things to be Happy About.” It is filled with tiny, little lists of things to appreciate and smile about. Over the years that book has been highlighted in so many colors. It has become a treasure in my library.
He had a beautiful, warm, and loving smile; a smile that suffered during his 2 tours in the Vietnam War. After listening to his horror stories over and over again, and watching the “Vietnam” movies with him repeatedly, I was convinced my dad never should have been a soldier in that war. His selfless nature and kind spirit were never cut out for the Army and the heartache was so unbearable he used the alcohol to cover it up for the rest of his life. Little by little, it destroyed his marriage and wrecked havoc on our relationship. It was hard to find love for him during my teenage years and when I was 18 he wasn’t present for David to ask for my hand in marriage. A week later he told David he wanted to think about it because I really needed to go to college first. I already had the ring though, and I wasn’t giving it back.
When my son, Tim, was 2 I remember being with my dad during his first heart attack. Of course he would deny it for years, but I knew what was happening. He was lying on the couch watching TV in his little apartment he rented after mom kicked him out for the last time. Stopping by to see if he had food in his cabinets, Dad said he wasn’t feeling well and when he told me his left arm was throbbing while his chest was squeezing tight, I was dumbfounded. He forbade me to call an ambulance because of his lack of insurance, so I held him and prayed harder than I ever wanted to for him not to die. Two short years later he was having his first of two bypass surgeries. Eight years later, he was gone forever.
Then he met another woman and during those few years a whole lot of life went by and I didn’t see much of him. He had decided to remarry and and she “didn’t want anything to do with his daughters”. Luckily, at the end of one of their biggest fights, he left her. A miracle in disguise! The last four months of his life were ours. My children finally understood the “dad” I used to talk about. He and my 5 year old (at the time) became great friends, reading books and jumping on the trampoline. He spent from October to January, the whole holiday season, at our home.
The weekend before he died, I told him he had made my dreams come true. My wish was for my children to know the fun-loving, warm-hearted man the way I did. In that moment I truly loved him more than I ever did and was able to forgive him for any hell he ever put me through. That was on Saturday. On Monday he had a massive heart attack which left surgery hopeless. I found it hard to cry at his funeral. I was so at peace with him returning to us, my life was made complete. It has been seven years since he has been gone yet, peace still reigns in that place where I miss him.
November 12, 2012
Middle children don’t have choices like the rest of the outsiders do. They are sandwiched in-between siblings who are born first or last and always seem to have more options.
Sandwiched, squeezed, scrunched. Longing to find which path they fit. Always feeling pressure. Must be hard to stretch out. Which direction do they go? To the right, left? No those paths are blocked… Must reach over and out, like… “Get out of here!”
This seems to be my daughter’s point of view. She was born with unmatched puzzle pieces and cannot turn enough to figure out how to fit in the middle of her older brother and younger sister. I know God planned her to be part of this family, but how she thinks she lost her fitting along the way I do not understand. Life with three teens is trying us these days…