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Made of Steel

My brother and father have both been gone for a little over a year, and I honestly don't think it's gotten any easier.

My dad was made of steel

My dad was Superman to me, nothing could hurt him, nothing except a broken heart...

madeofsteel

My father was by all accounts, made of steel. Crashproof, fireproof, pretty much bullet proof. Larger than life. Magic. Anyone who really knew him, knows he was also a big softy with a huge heart full of love for everyone, and that "I love you, you asshole" was a term of much endearment coming from him. He put a smile on every face he saw. If he wanted you to laugh, then dangit you were going to laugh, there was no way around it. There was nobody that didn't like him, at least nobody that I ever knew.

When I was little, every time it snowed, my dad would wake me up super early to go do donuts in an old church parking lot. He made sure we were the first ones there so that the parking lot full of 2-3 feet of snow would be perfectly untouched. By the time we left, it would be completely leveled. I remember one Sunday pulling out as the preacher was pulling in, my dad just smiled at him and told him we plowed the parking lot for him. The preacher just shook his head knowingly with a smile on his face. Then we would go home and he would make me a nice cup of hot cocoa with mini marshmallows in it to warm me up as he put on a show while cooking breakfast. I never once saw him crack an egg using two hands.

He used to throw me so high up in the air that I thought I could fly. Then he would always catch me, swing me around in circles until I was dizzy and then laughed at me when I fell down, but always made me feel totally safe and protected because I knew he would never let anything hurt me.

If I ever woke up before him, I would wake him up by dive jumping on him so hard that most people would scream in pain. Not my dad, he always woke up with a huge smile and fought back with monster roars and tickles until I could barely breathe. He'd say "I'm gonna tickle you half to death!" and I'd shriek and run away but he always caught me because steel man was fast too. Real fast. Like speed demon fast, catch him if you can but you can't fast. If he wanted to catch me he would catch me and then probably throw me in the snowbank, mudpit, or water, depending on the season. Clearly it was mad fun because I dive bombed him every time knowing full well how it would turn out. Then at the end of an action-packed day this tough guy prankster would carefully brush my long, tangled hair more gently than anyone could.

As I grew older he kept strong with his silly shenanigans and taught me some interesting and useful skills like how to drive a big ol’ car with no reverse. He told me you don't need reverse if you plan it out and swing yourself around so you park the right way. Just don't pull in anywhere you can't make a wide enough turn to get out without reverse unless you have a car full of friends to push then you're fine. Or just pull up onto a little incline where there’s room to roll backwards and you're golden. Who knew reverse was optional? My dad knew. Now I know too. I also know that first gear is optional in a stick shift, and even second gear in a pinch, again with strategic use of hills with enough distance to gain enough speed to pop the clutch and roll right into third.

The memories keep coming. Sometimes a wind comes that blows the doors wide open and they all flood out, the years blend together, and the tears flow like a river.

I remember my dad tubing behind my uncle Jack's boat when I was a kid. He'd always go with a beer and a cigarette and bet my uncle money that not only could he not make him wipe out, but he couldn't make him lose his beer or cigarette. My uncle beat him up like crazy on that tube, flipped him over time after time while my aunt screamed at him he was going to hurt or kill her little brother! He just tucked and rolled and always came up on top, laughing and flipping my uncle off, beer in hand, cigarette in mouth, while I laughed my ass off and applauded him. He was invincible. Nothing could touch him. Nothing except, in the end, the broken heart that came from suddenly losing my baby brother to a tragic motorcycle accident...

The memories keep coming in waves making me smile as much as I cry. I think about the frog pond at my grandmother’s house where I have so many wonderful memories. I wonder how many people my dad threw in there over the years and it makes me laugh. Then it makes me cry. Such is the cycle. But the one memory that keeps coming back to me is one of my very first memories, when I was probably no more than 2 years old in the field at my grandmother’s house, with my dad and my uncle Robert, both super heroes to me. They were hitting a ball up into the sky so high I thought it was going to fly away like a balloon. I remember it so vividly which is strange because I can't remember what I had for breakfast most days. I guess it made quite an impression on little me. It looked like a tiny dot in the sky. I never knew anyone could hit a ball that high. It seemed to defy gravity and everything else my little mind thought it knew to be real. It broke the glass ceiling of the limits of possibility.

IT WAS MAGIC.

PURE MAGIC.

ALL OF IT.


madeofsteel
madeofsteel

It's been 1 year, 3 months and 21 days since I've lost my brother. It's been 1 year, 1 month and 15 days since I lost my father. This has been the hardest year of my life to say the least.

My father taught my sister's and I everything we knew. How was I supposed to make sure to teach my kids everything they need to know? My dad was supposed to be around for a long time.

That's when it hit me, I am my father's daughter, his blood and strength course through my veins. He would have never left this earth if he didn't think I was ready.

I now what I have to do. I have to be the one everyone looks up to, the one who is always there for everyone. I had never realized it, but he had been preparing me for this my entire life. He always seen something in me when I couldn't see it myself.

I will never forget the last time I saw him... it was two weeks after my brother's funeral, and I had to go. I stayed as long as I possibly could. He held me tighter than he ever had before, and when I looked at his face, tears falling like rain, I knew... I knew I was saying goodbye for good, I knew it in my soul... I've played that moment over and over, wishing I would've just stayed, for however long he needed me. I'll . . .

I've made a lot of changes in my life, I try not to take any moment for granted. I just hope my daddy is watching over me and is proud of the woman he raised...

I will ALWAYS be daddy's little girl.

madeofsteel

© 2021 Cassey Aguiar

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