My mom and dad divorced when I was 2. I don’t remember this, but do remember that, for my formative years, I felt like I was split in two. I shouldn’t complain, I know how lucky I was to have two parents who loved me, but sometimes I wish I'd had them both together in the same space.
My dad, Richard John Collins, was born in 1903. I remember this date vividly because he always carried around a penny with this date on it and I still have it. He was a character, the life of every party, and played the drum for the Shriners ( a “fraternity that stressed fun and fellowship”–no surprise here!). I still have his crystal encrusted fez that I cherish. Both he and my mom were always the last two people to leave a party so it's no surprise that I love the nightlife.
He was a mailman (like his father and grandfather before him)….and yes, the stories you hear about them making “extra stops” (ahem) along the route are true, at least in his case. He left my mom for someone he delivered mail to. She was an “okay” stepmother as the man my mother eventually married was an “okay” stepfather. Splitting holidays, birthdays and other special occasions between two households was a bit chaotic to say the least though.
My dad was a very kind and happy man. He was also very opinionated (gee, wonder where “Candid Candace” came from!?) and he absolutely adored trying new restaurants, hell, anything new. I remember every time he came to visit me in Chicago, he barely unpacked before asking what plans we had. I loved his wonderful sense of adventure.
The last time he came to visit was on October 10, 1985. The following day, I had to call 911. He asked me to because he was having chest pains. As I soon learned, he knew he was ill. As a matter of fact, he had only purchased a one-way ticket to Chicago. He wanted his last days to be spent with me. He passed away on October 11.
I would give anything to have him here with me now. He would be tickled at my peripatetic lifestyle and would absolutely adore my husband Chuck.
So, on Father’s Day, as on all days, I’m thinking of my cool, sweet, funny dad and wishing he were here. If your dads are still with you, enjoy them every moment and make as many memories as you can. Trust me, they really are gone too soon.