He's been gone almost 20 years now, so while there's no emotional scab to be picked there is certainly a scar. I know its shape intimately, having poked at it for the better part of the last two decades. The scar is shaped like "what am I supposed to do in THIS situation, Dad? Oh. Right. No problem... I'll figure something out."
My Dad loved being a dad, and I guess that's the part I always try to remember. Well... that and the fact that heart disease killed him at age 56. There's a reason I'm kind of obsessive about staying fit and getting fitter -- I love being a dad, too, and I'd rather not stop before I have the chance to see what being a grand-dad is like. But I digress...
That bit about loving being a dad... that's the important part. If there are men in your life who are like that, let them know you appreciate them and the job they do. And if you happen to be one of those men, I bow to you in sincere appreciation of what you've undertaken. Keep up the good work, Dad. The world needs more real men, and it doesn't get any more real than this.
I feel: grateful