Dawn DeVries Sokol



Hello! Last week was difficult, hence, no new posts. Two words: Father's Day. A day that I'd rather just sleep through. I don't like to get TOO personal on this blog and I don't want to bring anyone down, but I'd like to make this post a tribute to my dad. (For those of you, such as Kath, who have heard me talk so much about my dad, I apologize...)

Last Sunday morning, I awoke to a quiet house. Hubby had gone golfing VERY early to beat the heat...And unfortunately, it gave me WAY too much time to think. Time to think about the meaning of the day, time to think about the hole in my heart. You see, my dad left this earth five years ago this Oct. 29, a day that I will forever hold as the darkest I've ever felt. He was 59, way too young. Now, mind you, this was six weeks after 9-11, and we were already disoriented, grieving for those who lost their lives that day, scared and unsure of what might come in the near future. Never had I thought that we'd be hit so close to home, by something so unexpected. My father died of a heart attack in his sleep late that night and my mother discovered him soon after. For me and my family, the world stopped. As it has for so many of those who've lost loved ones. You wonder how the world can go on, how the rest of the Earth can be so cruel as to not stop time, not stop revolving.

Now, I won't make my father out to be a saint. He wasn't, and he wouldn't have wanted to be thought of that way. He had his faults, as many of us do...he definitely wasn't perfect. When I was a young kid, he was distant. He didn't show much emotion. He never really communicated well with kids, never was very close to us until we got older. Once I hit high school, my dad became more a part of my life. I twirled baton for my high school band and being a former drummer in his high school band and drum corps, my dad took a huge interest in watching our band at football games and band competitions. When I thought that I wouldn't be able to twirl fire for Homecoming because the fire batons were expensive and my family just couldn't afford them, I came home after school one day to find both my parents home early. They had made a trip across town to purchase the batons for me as a surprise. My dad insisted that I have them. He assisted in lighting them and being nearby whenever I used them to make sure I was safe.

When I had my appendectomy a few years later, my father became angry at the attending nurse that insisted I walk down the hall with her soon after the surgery. I kept telling her I was going to pass out, but she kept pushing. Sure enough, the next thing I remember, I was being wheeled back into my room. I had fainted in the hallway and she had to get me into a wheelchair just to get me back to my bed. My dad was FURIOUS and he had a few choice words for her. From then on during my hospital stay, Dad was the one who walked me up and down the hallway. And actually, Dad was the one who stayed with me until they took me in for surgery. He laughed when the nurse suggested he was my husband, and watched my favorite soap with me while I nervously waited before being taken in to the operating room.

Several years after, a car accident left me with six fractured ribs. Hubby and I stayed at my parents' house that night because the hospital had wanted me to stay overnight for observation, but my mother didn't want me there. She insisted we go home with her and my dad, and my father stayed up all night so he could keep checking in on me as I slept.

Dad had a great sense of humor. He didn't show it that often and when I was younger, he seemed so serious. But that changed as I got older. When he laughed, though, you knew it was HILARIOUS! And he loved silly comedy. His laugh made me laugh. And actually, the day after the accident, he began laughing so hard at a movie on TV that I had to leave the room because I was laughing so hard at him. I was in so much pain and the laughter made me double over.

And he was an eternal optimist. He never failed to find the silver lining in every cloud. When Hubby and I postponed our wedding in 1994 (because Hubby wasn't ready), I was shattered. I truly thought it was the end of our relationship. Dad was the one I turned to because I knew deep down that he was the only one who could truly comfort me. And he didn't disappoint. Soon after Hubby left our apartment to go stay with some family friends, Dad came over to talk with me. He let me blubber, wail and sob for quite some time as he wrapped me up in his big, strong arms. Finally, after I had quieted down, he said, "You know, babe, you're probably going to hate me for saying this....And I'm not happy by any means right now because he's hurt my little girl so much, but I do admire him...." "ADMIRE him?" I asked. "How?" My dad looked me in the eyes and said, "Because he has guts. Because he had the guts to tell you this NOW instead of two years down the line, after you had been married, and after he and you had grown even more unhappy. He told you and it was so hard for him, but he did it. I know it hurts, I know, but he had the guts to tell you, knowing it would hurt you and he did it anyway. He was honest. I really respect him for that."

He brought out the positive in so many things. He did it during a situation that was one of the most hurtful times in my life. And he made me look at it differently. As he did many things.

When Hubby and I did get married three years later, Dad was there to walk me down the aisle. I had asked my mom if she wanted to walk with us as well, but she said, no, that it was my father's moment with me. Just before I was to go into the church with him, I looked over at him to see him wiping his eyes. I told him not to do that, he'd get me going! We laughed and he blew his nose and wiped away the tears. But the pictures of us walking down the aisle show a teary-eyed, emotional father next to me. I wouldn't have it any other way...

After his death, I questioned everything. It was apparent in my dreams. I was so scared I had lost the connection to him. But he kept coming to me in my dreams to tell me it was going to be OK, to let me know he would always be there for me. He still visits me sometimes in my dreams and I talk with him. And he has sent me signs whenever I'm down. I know he's there.

I miss his humor, his optimism...he was the light of my life. But every day that I miss him, I also thank the higher power for allowing him in my life. Allowing me to have that wonderful relationship that will forever influence me, that tie that will forever shape my being. The man that was and always will be my father. And I'm so proud to be able to call him that.

I love you, Dad. So much. And miss you terribly. Infinite kisses and hugs to you...

Your daughter, Dawn

Dawn SokolComment