I know that I am lucky to have such a close and strong relationship with both my dad and my stepdad– I am well aware of the conflicts and schisms that exist in other father/child relationships. I definitely appreciated it very acutely this past weekend, as every news program was a retrospective of Time Russert’s career, Russert himself the consummate family man, successful in his career, but grounded by the love he felt for his namesake father, as well as the sheer joy derived from having a son that he was proud to call his own. In Tim Russert, I saw a lot of both of my father figures: he was passionate about life, always willing to share a story, and just brimming with pride that he had been blessed with the life that he had. Watching the unending news coverage Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, I was constantly in a state of near-tears. This could have been my dad, could have been my stepdad, could have been any number of men in that same age bracket that have impacted any number of lives.
My dad spent Saturday night with us, in “his room,” where we have our office/guest room. When I went in on Sunday morning to see if he was up, I found him watching Meet the Press and crying. You all know this already, most likely, but seeing your father cry is among the hardest things you will ever have to witness. My dad being the softhearted guy that he is, this was not the first time; I had seen him weep from sadness as my childhood dog was put to sleep, and with joy as I graduated from high school and college (my mom, conversely, was dry-eyed both times…because she is a total bad-ass). What made Sunday morning difficult was that I knew he was crying because he felt like he had lost a friend, a comrade-in-arms, who had lived through the same years that he had, and shared the common joys of family and country, that so many of our fathers feel. I sat next to him and rested my head on his shoulder, tearing up myself, and feeling so grateful that he was right there with me, sharing this loss and appreciating the relationship that we have.
I know that this election year will be a little quieter, a little empty, without Tim Russert’s joy at each step of the way, but I also know that I will love it no less, sharing each state’s electoral results with my two dads, who represent both ends of the political spectrum (sorry, stepdad, there is no way in hell I am supporting McCain…I am truly my father’s daughter, hippie leanings and all).