So much time has passed that it’s hard to know where to begin.
I am currently writing this from my hometown, in Georgia. I returned home to GA after the NC school year ended last summer. I am currently teaching first grade here & enjoying being around my family, friends, & home church.
I seem to be picking up with this blogging thing at the same time that I started it last year. Maybe it’s because it was this time of year that Dad was diagnosed & this season just brings so many thoughts, memories, feelings & reflections.
Today I have no profound thoughts, I just want to share some memories of my Dad & his life. Random pieces of information, many of which mostly make my heart smile but somehow hurt a little at the same time. So here are some things you may or may not know about my dad, John Rinko, in no particular order:
· He was kidnapped as a baby & returned a couple days later to steps of a church
· He was a DJ in college.
· He LOVED music…50’s, 60’s, 70’s, classic rock…any song that came on he could name the artist, song, year, & album. He was like a music trivia machine.
· He had long hair & a beard when I was a baby…my cousin once saw a picture & was enthralled with it thinking it was Jesus. :)
· He loved dogs, treated them like children & has had many my whole life…Mini, Tikki, Fluffy, Mutley, Sassy, Peaches…
· Never met a stranger…even the ladies at the library asked about him. He has always had jobs where he deals with people…record store owner, salesman, working with the clients of the family business, real estate agent…
· He liked to put A1 steak sauce on his pizza”because there’s hamburger meat on it” (yuck)
· Though I lived in GA & he lived in NJ, he always came to visit me over spring break & would even take my friends & I to Six Flags (some of you may have been a part of those trips!)
· Always an active part of my life, though living far away, summers & Christmas were always spent with him in NJ.
· Loved all sorts of movies. Especially classic/old school horror movies & other creepy science-fiction ones that I do not like.
· Collected lots of monster-movie, music, old cartoon/TV show memorabilia.
· Just a huge collector in general, from buttons (not the kind for clothes) to old record covers to coffee mugs
· Always read the paper while he ate.
· Big Yankees fan. Booooo Mets. J
· Big History buff too. Especially American history & war stuff.
· And dinosaurs
· Was always been the best about sending cards to me. I still have a Strawberry Shortcake card from my 4th birthday that he mailed to me.
· Always communicated with my mom & Reggie about things that were necessary.
· He loved amusement parks & I think we hit each one between GA & NJ many times on our drives to/from there for my summer in NJ. (he would drive to GA to pick me up for the summer & we’d take a week or so to drive back to NJ)
· As a kid, he was always taking pictures of everything we did. Tons of pictures of the same thing, in order to get ‘the right shot.’ A digital camera in the early 80’s would have been a useful tool for him!
· Let me practice driving in the station wagon…in the Alexander’s parking lot in Paramus, NJ
· Quit smoking cold turkey 11 years ago.
· He always wore a newsboy-style cap when I was a kid. Classic dad picture is him wearing one of those hats, a fur-lined denim jacket, standing in the snow in front of the ‘fake wooden’ station wagon.
· Every summer he’d tell me to make a list of my recent favorite songs. We’d go to the record store & he’d buy the 45’s (single records for those who don’t know what a ‘45’ is). Then he’d use his recording equipment (remember it was the 80’s!) to make me a tape. They’re called ‘Jennifer’s Favorite Hits’ and there are 13 volumes.
· He always took me to things like Disney on Ice & even off broadway plays in New York City. We always ate at Mama Leoni’s when in the city. Yum.
· We spent a week each summer at the Jersey shore in Wildwood. He loved playing games on the boardwalk & was so good at it that one year I brought home TONS of gigantic stuffed animals. No idea how we even drove home with all those things that year!
· Always was the best at playing with me when I was a kid: board games, building sand castles, video games, you name it. He really was a big kid, even when I was no longer a kid!
· Through the years has always worn unique/unusual/cool T shirts…Twilight Zone, King Kong, ET, classic rock concerts, Amusements Parks…
· Would respond with particular phrases that really annoyed me when I was younger but are now endearing: “Fine & dandy” “I see I see said the blind man” are a couple
· Always called whipped cream ‘shush’.
· Was always very good with words/writing
· Since he loved toys & collectibles, he’s given me some….unique…gifts as an adult that takes what I’m interested in & meshes it with the ‘toy’ aspect. Some of you know what I’m referring to!
· Owned many dvd’s, & he especially loved dvd series of his favorite tv shows. We had many ‘maratnons’ of these: Alfred Hitchcock, Twilight Zone & Quantum Leap,
· Would call & talk to my grandfather (Papa) about baseball, even with their friendly rivalry (die-hard Yankees fan & a Braves fan) & even after being divorced from Mom for like my whole life.
· The year I lived in NC with him, he developed a special way of saying he loved me. He would always say “I love you Jennifer. Very much.”
I am so grateful for the way my dad loved me my whole life. Though he lived in another state far away most of the time, I always knew how much I was loved. He never let me forget that I was ‘Daddy’s little girl’, even when hearing that embarrassed me terribly. I truly believe that it was knowing this definite love from my earthly father that allowed my heart to believe & accept the love of my Heavenly Father as an adult so easily. I am incredibly grateful this afternoon for my dad’s presence & influence on my life, as well as the Lord’s continued presence & influence on my life & heart.