First Father’s Day Without My Dad

Posted by Rose Hillen

This is my first Father’s Day after my dad died on December 30, 2021. It’s been almost 6 months and while I do not cry every day like when it first happened, today, the tears will threaten my entire day. I’m going to ramble about random things about my dad now…

My dad was super complicated. He had schizophrenia and was often seen as quiet and reserved. Dad managed his schizophrenia well with medication but of course, sometimes he had “episodes.” I think his illness made him so much stronger and a better father.

Our home never lacked for love. Even during his “episodes,” in his view, he was trying to love and protect us as best he could. And while most people saw a stoic, smart, reserved man, we knew he could be super silly and affectionate.

Daddy loved donuts. A trait I’m sure he passed along to his grandchildren (that’s my son on the left). One of my first childhood memories was of getting donuts with my sister and Dad. Once, I spilled milk on the coffee table and I thought I would be in so much trouble. But instead, my dad flipped the table on it’s side and pretended it was a fort.

Once, we tried making donuts. Just once. I remember rolling out the dough. I remember dropping it in oil. I remember making donut holes. I also remember my dad thinking it was too much work and we never made them again haha.

Dad loved tennis. I remember watching him play at the community college in the valley. Then when we were older, he taught my sister and me how to play. We took classes together. He would drill us at the park. He had an amazing one handed backhand. I hated when he would return a serve with a slice. He would smile his goofy smile and everything would be ok. (That’s me on the right, senior year in high school… growing out my ruined bleached hair)

We lived in Southern California and my dad had his pick of any beach but we always went to Redondo Beach. I have these perfect memories of driving out to the beach and finding a picnic table, waiting while my dad would get us a whole mess of crab to eat. My mom would shell them and we ate and ate and ate. It was just so perfect.

Me and my siblings with my lolo (left) and cousin (back right)

Dad has a huge family. When the holidays were good, we would gather at my uncle’s house and have huge, loud celebrations. Everyone got gifts or brought food. There were lots of hugs and kisses and cuddles.

My kids are awake now and I’m having a hard time concentrating on what else to write about my dad. They’re so much like him in some ways. Gabriel can be quiet and reserved and he looks so much like my dad. And Ellie’s silliness and sweetness reminds me of playing with my dad growing up.

Today is going to be a struggle. I miss him so much. But I know he’d be so mad if I called out from work haha.

I love you, Dad. Miss you forever.

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