To Dad

by DragonLady

A/N: I know there are a lot of people who don't like Randy. This is for those that do.

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I talk too much.

Ok, ok, maybe not 'too much', but more like, too often.

Actually, that's not right either.

To be honest, what I say, most of the time, comes out sounding completely opposite from how I mean for it to sound.

I know, I know, get to the point Randy.

You see, the thing is, I was never good in group situations. In fact, when I was a kid, I hung out at home more than I played with friends. Actually, my best friends were my dog, Bruce, and my dad. I know, sounds kinda corny. Actually, sounds a lot corny. But really, my dad was everything.... he was my whole world.

I remember that year so perfectly. I'd just graduated from high school. Dad and Mom were there in the crowd, watching me get my diploma. Of course, out of thirty-two seniors, who do you suppose tripped on their robe going up the stairs? Oh yeah, you're looking at him.

Well, everyone laughed. "There goes Disher, clowning off like usual." Of course, I never did clown off in school- I was just really awkward. Really, really, really.... Well, you get the idea. Anyhow, when I looked up, into the bleachers.... I saw that Dad wasn't laughing. He just sorta, smiled; and I swore I heard him say, "Forget it kid, go get your diploma. I'm proud of you." Like that, the laughter didn't matter anymore.

After the ceremony, Mom insisted we go out to a fancy restaurant. Of course, in our town, fancy was Red Lobster. Both Mom and Dad talked about how proud they were of me. No, I wasn't valedictorian, but that didn't really matter. I'd been accepted at Antioch University, and would be leaving home for the first time.

How could I tell them how scared I was?

That night, while Mom washed the dishes, Dad sat down next to me on the front steps. The stars were out by now, and I remembered thinking how bright they all were.

"Thinking about the future?" I just nodded, knowing my Dad would continue. "I remember when I left home. I hadn't finished high school; my dad needed his boys to help him work the farm. I regret that now, not finishing at that time. Did you know your old dad wanted to be a doctor?" I shook my head, stunned. "Yup, the medical field always fascinated me. Buuuut. Some dreams.... well, sometimes our dreams give way to other dreams. If I hadn't left Wisconsin, I'd never have joined the force, met your mother.... or had you." I nodded, still thinking about that whole doctor thing, and trying to keep the tears out of my eyes. It didn't help my composure when Dad put his arm around my shoulders. Yeah- I cried like a kid. No, I cried like a man, who still wished he was a kid. "Son, things won't always go like you expect. But dreams aren't always found through expectations. Don't go out there trying to make me proud of you, I always am. Just go out there, and see what you can find." Then he looked at me with that funny grin of his. "Your mother, on the other hand; you'll have to earn her respect." A loud "Hey!" from the kitchen confirmed the fact that Mom had been eavesdropping on at least part of our conversation. Getting control of myself, I stood with my father. I was about to tell him something when the radio at his belt crackled. "Dispatch to units in the vicinity of 32 and Lake Street, we have a 211 in progress. Location is the Gas Plus Service Station." Not wasting a second, Dad thumbed the switch on his radio.

"Dispatch, this is Officer Disher, I'm at 349 Conway Avenue, that's about a mile from the station. I can be there in under two minutes, over." There was a pause, then the dispatcher returned. "Copy that, back-up is en route." Quickly, Dad grabbed his gun from the nightstand and headed for his car. "Dad." He stopped, looking back at me for just a second. "Be careful." He smiled then, saluting me jauntily. "See you soon."

See you soon.

That Friday was the day I'd been planning for, for weeks now. I was supposed to be leaving for college. Instead, I found myself standing on a neatly clipped lawn, sweating beneath a crystal blue sky, while familiar words were spoken in the air. "Ashes to ashes, dust to dust...." I felt cold inside. I caught a few words now and then, a few quotes from scripture. My arms hung at my sides like slabs of meat. My mother stood by my side, crying openly. All I could do, was watch as my father's casket was lowered into the ground. Those final words rang in my head. "See you soon...."

Afterward, after we got home and all the leftover food had been put away, my mom sat with me on the couch. "Randy, I know what you want to do, but I want you to get the idea out of your head. The University has agreed to postpone your enrollment, so you have plenty of time to prepare yourself." I shook my head, my heart already decided. "No mom."

She squared her shoulders. "Randall...."

"Mom, this is my decision. I'm doing this..... I have to do this." She would fight me for days, but it made no difference. Finally, she had to concede. In the fall, I enrolled at the Police Academy. That was 11 years ago.

I know, not quite what I had planned. But then, things don't always happen like we expect. Life takes different paths sometimes. Dad would understand.



Randy Disher stared at the slab of blue-gray slate. His mother had been there earlier in the week- her flowers were only just starting to wilt. Placing a fresh bouquet next to the withering one, Randy squatted by the headstone. He clasped his hands as unbidden words rose up from inside. "Hey Dad. Been a long time." He cleared his throat self-consciously as the cool wind flapped the edges of his coat. "I, ah, I've been thinking... a lot, lately, about that talk we had. Remember what you said? That, no matter what I did, you'd be proud of me? I also remember, that I'd wanted to tell you something too, only, I didn't get to." Randy stopped as he felt his throat tightening. Clenching his teeth, he pressed on. "Dad, I know, I know you've, uh, you've heard me say this.... every year now, since you left. But, I need to say it again." Tears filled his eyes, but they went ignored by the young man. "I don't know, I guess saying this kinda makes it feel like you're here again, for a little while." He cleared his throat again, absently swiping at his eyes. "What I wanted to tell you, Dad, is that you make me proud too. Every day, you made me proud. It didn't matter that you didn't finish high school with your class, or that you didn't become a doctor. That didn't matter. What mattered, is that.... you were, my dad." Two tracks ran down his face, feeling cold in the wind. So wrapped up was he in his conversation, that Randy nearly screamed when a hand landed on his shoulder.

"Randy?"

"Ah, oh, Sharona! What, what are you doing here?"

Sharona looked over her shoulder at a figure a small distance away. "Adrian needed a ride, he's visiting Trudy." She glanced down at the headstone by Randy's feet. "That your father?" Acting nonchalant, Disher nodded. However, his act was a bit unconvincing with tears streaming down his face. "Yeah, that's Dad. Actually, that's where Dad is buried...." Sharona frowned, seeing right through the Lieutenant. "Randy, I'm sorry, I should leave you alone." Randy stopped her though. "No, stay.... it's ok. I'm fine, really." His look was so pleading that Sharona nodded. 'I must have looked pretty pitiful- probably why she stays with Adrian.' Thought Randy, turning once more to the stone. Sharona glanced his way. "You loved him a lot." Randy nodded, wiping his eyes. "What was he like, your dad?"

'What was he like? Where to start.... At the beginning I guess.'

Randy straightened, tucking his hands in his pockets. "When I was a kid, my best friends were my dog, and my dad...."

For Donald Warren Ramsey

A/N: This story is dedicated to my own father, who will turn 69 this April. My dad has a similar story to Disher's father. My dad lived on a farm with his parents and 7 other siblings. When he was in 8th grade, he dropped out of school to help his father work the farm. Several years later, after the death of one of the brothers, the family moved to California. They lived there for some time before all moved back to Minnesota. My dad also wanted to be a doctor, and has remained fascinated by medical science his whole life. However, life took a turn, and his profession turned to carpet installation. To this day, my dad and my brother work in this field, and are considered the best in the business in the city of St. Paul, and possibly Minnesota. Like Disher, saying what is on my heart is very hard for me. Unlike Disher, I won't wait till after my father is gone to tell him what burns inside- "I'm proud of you dad."

-Tanya