Today would have been my dad's 74th birthday. He's been gone five years and I miss him now more than ever. It's interesting to me because there was a time in my life when I didn't need him and I didn't miss him when it was months between visits. Somewhere along the way though, things changed, I did miss him and I did need him. I became a parent myself and for the first time I understood him a little better. I understood that parents are only human, with their own lives, their own successes and their own failures. I focused a little too much on his failures for too long.
Once I embraced him for who he was, our relationship deepened. I'll never forget the love he had my for kids, how he told me he was proud of me over and over, how he taught me to finally catch a fly ball when I was 42 years old, and how he was still trying to give me advice until the end. I remember giving him a hard time in the hospital because he was trying to give me directions home from New Jersey; a trip I had driven dozens of times. He said "I'm your father, it's what I do." So I let him.
The last words he ever said to me were "I love you, very, very, very much." It doesn't get any better than that. I love you too Dad, and miss you so much today and everyday.