Make Him Proud

If you’ve made your way to my website, there’s a very good chance you’ve met or heard of Jenny G, Jenny Lynn, the face of Your Social Media Hour, the sponsor of this website, the wonderful and powerful and beautiful woman I am now stuck with and the person I call Jen… I mean Mom.  

Jen called me on a Tuesday, when I was in the library, and upon hearing my location called me a geek.  But that actually has nothing to do with this.  She just so happened to give me a rather dashing idea for a blog post.  Little did she know, I was taking notes as she was speaking… So here you go… Thanks Mom.

If you’ve never read the name Jen from my blog posts you’ve probably read the name John.  Therefore, if you’ve read the name John you’ve definitely seen Jen because she’s mentioned in them all… 

These two people were blessed with my presence 20 years ago and are still in disbelief that they could have created such an amazing child.  Which isn’t me, it’s the one that had an interview at UPenn a few weeks ago.  Or was it the one who gets thrown in the air every week and lands on the ground (or her stunt groups arms) alive?  Plot twist: I’m neither one of those.  However, I was first so I’m sort of a big deal anyways.

Moral of the story is they had a pretty great group of girls in their house.  We’re thriving.  And we all endured a big change 5 months ago today.

Half of our parental unit fought a battle for two and a half excruciating months before passing away.  If you go back to the first paragraph and read the part that says, “the wonderful and powerful woman I am now stuck with”, you can probably guess which one it was.  

Dad was the happiest person I’ve ever been in the presence of.  If he wasn’t happy, he wasn’t unhappy so he was just always happy.  He dealt with the situation of living with three teenage daughters with grace and I am forever grateful that I was given such a great dad to show me my way.

He was at every first day of school send off, looked over my college essay countless times, timed a ton of swim meets, sat through hours of say yes to the dress, happened to be there when I got into every college, took us out of the country for the first time, came to college move- ins, cheer competitions, more swim meets, band concerts even when I wouldn’t actually play the instrument and instead fingered through all of my parts, ran to the American Girl store within the two weeks before christmas (aka hell), and would bring me dinner when I was lifeguarding at the community pool- ravioli with pesto in our real dinner bowls and our real dinner silverware.  He’d walk across the parking lot with it, eat and chat with me and then walk back to our apartment.  There was never a time that I experienced his absence.

There wasn’t a time within the past 20 years that he wasn’t shaping me into who I am.  I am who I am because of my parents and they taught me well.  

Thus, at his passing, whereas Mom knew/ didn’t know what exactly the three of us were going through, she knew we would somehow be okay.  And she never questioned it.  The two weeks between the day he told us his treatment hadn’t worked and the day of his death she’d hug me and say, “It’s going to be okay.  I have no idea how, but it’s going to be okay.”  Little did she know, we were going to be okay because we had the best parents.

At the wake, a person very close to my dad told my mom about the difficulties Vicki, Stephie and I were about to deal with.  Having witnessed it himself, apparently, Jen is about to deal with a lot, to which her response was most likely, “Great, because I totally don’t have enough to deal with currently” as she stood in heels for the four hours that the wake lasted.

This friend of my dad’s said we would struggle in more ways than just feeling the void that he left.  Instead, our attempts to fill the void would be an even bigger struggle… Specifically, through drugs, alcohol and sex.  

Two things are important here: one, both of my parents raised us well enough to know that there is nothing that could possibly fill the void (explanation to come) and two somewhere between four and six people encouraged our alcohol intake on the day of his death.  And when we asked Jen if we could have another two family friends would answer in unison, “You guys can have as many as you want”.  Thus we collectively may or may not have went through 9 beers which is okay because Dad bled beer.  

Back to #1 though.  Having mentioned that he was the happiest person, it’s obvious that he wanted us to be nothing but happy.  Everything he did was supposed to put a smile on our faces or would lead us to a destination that would make us smile.  We weren’t raised to fill our voids that would come from lost relationships, bad grades or missed opportunities with anything that could hurt us more but rather what would set us up to get ahead of the game for the next time we had a chance to succeed.  We were raised to be polite and kind and in this case we must be to ourselves just as much as others.  We’ve got to smile, bring our A game, continue to respect him and be sad all at once.  As Jen said, “Go sad, not bitchy.”

However, I’m not really sure an actual void exists.  A void is described as a completely empty space.  But where he was in my life isn’t empty.  I shouldn’t even use the word ‘was’ because he still IS with me.  Everything he taught me, every ounce of support he showed, every experience he gave me and every time he proved his love (which was 24 hours a day) is still here, the body that he had to convey those messages to me isn’t but in more ways than one he’s still here.

Parents give you the tools you need to succeed.  Whereas there’s never a time when you shouldn’t be learning from them. His physical absence might just mean that he raised three kids who have the power and strength to be okay.  So we have to prove it to him.  

Supposedly there is no greater pain than losing your child.  But I don’t have a child therefore I can say parent.  And no amount of anything can take that pain away.  Everyone always says, “nothing can replace my parent” while they’re alive so it doesn’t make sense as to how them being dead could make it okay.  And I know for a fact that nothing could even come close to being the next John Wengler in my life… Even if it’s the best tasting beer in the world.