Joseph R. O’Donnell (5/7/22 – 8/9/2007)
August 9, 2010
How the hell are you? It’s been awhile since we’ve been able to talk. So much has happened in the last three years, I don’t really know where to start. Remember that boy I dated in college that you liked? More accurately, do you remember the ONLY boy that I dated that you ever liked? Do you? His name was Johnny and you thought he was a good kid. You liked his handshake and that he took off his hat when he was inside our house. Well, you won’t believe this, but I married him. Yessir, it only took 20 years but through colossal circumstances, we reunited and whattya know, I’m married! At 40, I know you thought it would never happen. I still remember you telling potential suitors that they have a “tiger by the tail”. Well, I may be the tiger but he can definitely handle my tail. That’s not meant to be naughty, by the way.
We’re unbelievably happy and the only way our wedding could’ve been better is if you’d been there. I moved away, you know. I rented out my little house and now I’m up in the mountains with Johnny. Well, not just with Johnny. He has two little girls!
Can you believe it? Remember how you encouraged me to have a baby? You especially wanted me to have a little girl. You even joked that if I would just have a baby, you’d raise it for me. Well, now there are two little girls in my life and you would be totally delighted. They are beautiful and funny and you’d laugh if you could see my life now. I’ve gone from martinis and sushi to Spongebob and Spaghetti O’s. I wish you could meet them, I know they’d get a kick out of you and your old gruffy self.
I was thinking about you the other day and remembering all the fun we used to have and how much I’ve missed you. Remember how we used to go out every single Wednesday night? Sometimes we’d have dinner at my place, other times we’d go drink Jack Daniel’s in a sports bar somewhere. Other times we’d go see a horror movie and I’d ALWAYS have to explain something to you because you’d frequently doze off while I sat by your side consumed with sheer terror. Every time I’d jump or scream you’d laugh. I also remember the time you smacked someone in the aisle in front of us upside their head for talking during the movie. I was mortified, but they sure as shit quit talking, didn’t they?
We both love Westerns and Ice cream. We love whiskey and Kung fu. We think each other is hilarious and we’ve always maintained that we’re such a good team. We are! We’ve had so much fun over the years, and shared SO many laughs. I sure miss that.
When you started to get sick it confused me. Things you normally would think amusing were suddenly annoying. I remember renting the movie “Jackass” which under normal circumstances you’d have found hysterical. Instead you dismissed it as “stupid”. Of course it was, but it used to be “our” kind of stupid. I remember making you dinner on one of our special Wednesday nights. I made tacos because those were always your absolute favorite. When I came out of the kitchen with your drink there was a small moat of lettuce, tomatoes and meat encircling your chair. You had salsa running down your chin and all over your shirt. You looked up at me meekly and whispered, “maybe I should just eat in the tub”. I gave you a hearty laugh, but it completely broke my heart. Suddenly, I was the grown-up.
I remember when you forgot me. I walked up to you and knelt down at your wheelchair. “Hey handsome!”, I chirped. I gazed up at your long face and I could instantly see your confusion and bewilderment. “Hey, it’s ME“, I whispered. You looked right into my eyes and shook your head as if to say, “I’m so sorry”. You knew you knew me, you just didn’t know how.
The last day we hung out was a pretty fucking cool day. Remember? I dropped in to see you and you were full of piss and vinegar. You were watching the evening news and there was some segment about George Bush on some sort of Military ship. You grabbed the remote and turned it off while simultaneously giving the President your famous one finger salute. You called me “shitbird”, the nickname you gave me years ago and hadn’t used in ages. I was so excited to see you feeling so well and *almost* back to your old self. We chatted and laughed and talked about what we would do over the upcoming weekend. We were going to go to McDonald’s for breakfast. Only because you love their lousy pancakes and sausage – barf!
Well, hell. That was the last time we got to hang out. And now it’s been three years. Three years where so much has happened and so much I’d have loved to share with you. Of course, I know you do see me and my new life. I know you’re sharing in this new experience with me and rooting me on and laughing all the while. Selfishly I just wish you were still sitting across a booth from me bitching about something…anything, really. You never were at a loss for things that pissed you off. We’d always have one more drink when we knew we shouldn’t. That would usually lead to a story that left us laughing until tears filled our eyes.
Well, tonight my eyes are filled with tears but I’m not laughing, Daddy.
I miss you so badly my heart aches and I wish I had another chance to tell you how much I love you. How much I hope that I make you proud. How I hope you forgive me for all the mistakes I’ve made. How I wish I could just give you a kiss on the top of your fuzzy old head just one more time.
Most of all I just want you to know that I’m glad I’m your kid. I’m your daughter and you’re my Dad and death cannot take that away. Your blood runs through my veins and unfortunately at times, so does your temper. I know what you would say to that.
“Piss on it. We’re allowed. We’re Irish”.
I miss you. But it’s okay, I’m allowed. I’m just an Irish girl who loves her Daddy.