Teri Vance: Missing my dad on Father’s Day

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

Jason Gardner competes in the newspaper toss during the End of Bike Week Party on Friday evening in McFadden Plaza.

Father’s Day has always been somewhat of a complicated holiday for me. I loved my dad, and we spent a lot of time together — growing up on a ranch meant we worked, played and lived as a unit — but expressing our feelings wasn’t always easy.

But it wasn’t that simple, either. My dad was affectionate with his four daughters, he was always the one to turn to when you needed comfort. He gave the best, unconditional hugs.

He could make you laugh through your tears. And though he didn’t say, “I love you,” per se, he was generous with, “Sure love it.”

We just didn’t express sincere emotions well. It was complicated. It came out in different ways.

I remember evenings, when we’d just unsaddled and turned the horses out for the day, we’d grab a basketball and play a game before even heading into the house.

We’d still be dressed from riding, and my dad would use that against us if he was losing, tripping up his opponents by kicking their spurs in a sideswipe (we all learned our dirty tactics from him).

My dad loved sports, but where we lived we barely got television reception on the days we got it at all. And even if a game did come on TV, my dad usually got voted down from watching it.

So, many nights, he could be found lying on his bedroom floor listening to whatever game on his portable AM/FM radio. You could barely hear the announcer through the static.

It always started with just one of us wandering in and sitting down beside him. We’d ask something like, “Who’s playing?” or “Who’s winning?”

It usually ended with all four of us scattered about at the foot of the bed, having our own side conversations, drowning out the static of the game.

“Get the hell outta here!” my dad would protest. And we’d be quiet for a few minutes so he could hear, then it would pick right back up again.

The same thing would happen when he’d go to bed. My dad was always up at 4 or 5 in the morning — he regularly let us know he put in half a day’s work before we even woke up — and he went to bed at a ridiculous hour as well.

The same thing would often happen. One of us would go in innocently enough to ask a question or tell a story, then we’d all end up askew in the bed until my dad would shout out the time, “It’s 7:24!” or “It’s 8:12!” To him, 9 p.m. was midnight, so it was meant to signal it was too late for us to be in there.

We would tell him the night was still young.

“Get the hell outta here!” he’d respond.

To be honest, those conversations happened so frequently, but I can’t remember the specifics of a single one. Generally, I know we told stories — about what happened during the day with each other, we even told stories about the dogs and horses, their personalities as much a part of the dynamics as our own.

Sometimes, they were more philosophical, covering religion and other big ideas.

I just can’t really pin one down. It seemed like we’d have forever to lie in bed and talk.

This will be my fourth Father’s Day since his death. It doesn’t get easier.

I often wish I could have the opportunity to really talk to him — really share my truth and listen to his.

Even if I couldn’t do that, I’d take one more chance to crash his football game.

Teri Vance is a journalist, freelance writer and native Nevadan. Contact her with column ideas at terivance@rocketmail.com.


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