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This is my dad.

This picture was taken in the mid-80s, when I was in high school, so he was probably in his mid- to late-60s. Retired. Divorced. Living in an apartment in South Mississippi. With me.

If I remember correctly, Sears offered him a free 5x7 if he came in for a portrait shoot. Naturally their marketing team planned to talk him into buying lots of other prints in multiple other sizes. Dad thought he snookered them. He just took the 5x7. Gave it to me.

Sears was one of only two credit cards my dad held. The other was J.C. Penny. Didn't make for very good shopping in my high school years.

This picture makes me simultaneously happy and sad and I'm not even sure why. Sad because my dad is gone now. Happy because it reminds me of the years the two of us spent together living in apartments when I was a teenager. Good times.

My parents split up when I was in ninth grade. My brother and sister were away at school; I was the only one at home. I lived with my mom for a year but then she moved to Louisiana so I moved in with my dad.

Dad retired when I was 11. He'd been a civil (highway) engineer and worked his whole life for the federal government. A Washington DC native. Big Redskins fan. Retired in 1977 and we moved to Long Beach, Mississippi.

(He stayed loyal to the 'Skins. Never became a Saints fan. I did though.)

My junior and senior year of high school it was just me & Dad. He used to get up early and make canned biscuits and sausage for breakfast. Fixed me a brown bag lunch every single day. Sometimes he would wake up super early like old folks do and, unable to go back to sleep, he'd get up and eat his own breakfast. Then, before going back to bed, he'd line up all the cereal boxes on the kitchen counter so I could easily make my own breakfast when I woke up.

Dad attended every one of my choir performances. He chaperoned on the bus with us for regional and state competitions. He was always there for it all.

That's the dad I see in this picture. The man who spent his final years trying to be mom and dad to a teenage daughter.

I miss him every day.

Read more about my dad's D-Day experience on the George C. Marshall foundation blog here.

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