Tuesday, December 21, 2010

One Year Later

For the past two weeks or so I have been contemplating what I would write today, on the one year anniversary of my Dad's death.  I have been busying myself with trying to not dwell on it, but it's always there in the back of my mind "the day is coming, the day is coming".   While I felt that I really needed to make a tribute, a heartfelt documentation of my feelings, the words just weren't coming. 

There are many reasons why this day is so difficult.  Christmas is just a few days away, a time of celebration and new life. Yet, today I just don't feel it.   I keep going back to that morning last year and trying to understand why the weather didn't cooperate, why I didn't try harder, why he didn't hold on.   I couldn't be there with him.  Knowing my Dad, he probably wanted it just that way.

Today I re post a portion of what I wrote on the first Father's Day I spent without him.  Good memories and a lifetime filled with love.  

This week has seemed particularly hard for me, our "first" Father's Day without my father is upon us and Monday will be the six-month anniversary of his death. I've been very emotional during the last few days, and the slightest thing brings him to mind.. today it was strawberries, so fragrant and reminiscent of summer... as a child my parents would take us to a local orchard to pick them, I think more ended up in our tummies than in our basket, it's a vivid memory of Dad and caused me to break down right in the produce section of our store. While I started the day a bit weepy, this brought me truly to tears and I barely got through checking out.

Tonight I got to thinking about other memories of him and trying to recall things of my childhood that stood out in my mind. While I of course don't remember much before the age of five or so, I have a few very clear memories of what seem to be very early years.

When I was about four or five I can clearly remember going to a local school carnival while we were visiting family in Massachusetts. While I don't actually recall much about the actual carnival, I do remember Dad leading me through some tall bushes to get in. The school was next door to my grandparents home, the bushes were probably just on the property line, but it felt like an adventure in my youngster mind. Dad would spend $100 on a carnival game to win me a $2 stuffed animal, by the time I was in my teens I had hundreds of them filling my room. I still have a few, I wish I still had them all.

Another early memory of Dad was the building where he worked. My Dad was a Maintenance Manager for a large builder. We lived in a planned community, made up of several mini communities, all of which had their own maintenance department and swimming pool. My Dad worked in an office at the bottom of a high-rise building in our neighborhood. Whenever I was at the office with him I would sneak off and get a ride in the elevator. Problem was that I didn't know how to return to his floor - I must have been pretty young at this point. I would get off the elevator, take in the sights from that floor and then begin to cry and yell for him. I can still hear his voice coming from the upcoming elevator "I'm coming Cindy". He must have had to stop on every floor until he found me.

I could never mention memories of Dad and not mention the music. My Dad was a wonderful musician. He loved country music and could play any instrument that had strings, the harmonica and the piano or keyboard. He had a studio of sorts in our basement where he recorded and on the weekends family and friends would get together and play music, sing and dance together till they couldn't sing anymore... us kids would usually be long sleeping by then, but I can still remember falling to sleep to the sounds of electric guitars, tambourines, and that drum machine that my brother and I loved to play with. When Dad was playing I would stand by, waiting for his instruction on which song to pull out of his book next. He had a black 3-ring binder full of song lyrics... no music, just the lyrics. He could play any song but didn't read music. The sounds of his picking still course through my mind on occasion, and I find myself humming a tune that I've not heard for 20 years.

Since my Mom didn't drive when I was young, Dad was the only driver in our family - another of my earliest memories is visiting the local gas station and always getting a Moon Pie and a Yoohoo drink (when Yoohoo was still in a little glass bottle, not a juice box). Yes, I sat on the front seat of our big gold Pontiac with it's huge doors and vinyl interior... I loved that car and Dad loved Moon Pies.   When Mom had to go to the grocery store we would sit in the parking lot and wait for what seemed like hours - after some time he would begin mumbling "come on Barbara" about every 10 minutes.

Once when I was about 8 Dad was helping me fly a kite behind our house. The wind was great that day and the kite kept going up and up and up.... I had no idea that the string would come right off it's spool at the end and the kite would actually fly away... I also had no idea that my Dad could run that fast. Yes, he caught it. My Dad was my hero.

We had a few ponds in that neighborhood, they were right behind our house and in the winter Dad would always be the one to go check the ice to make sure it was safe for all of us kids.

Being very knowledgeable in building, plumbing and all things in construction, Dad was a great builder of forts. This was especially true when he and Mom purchased a new washer and dryer.. who knew that a couple of cardboard boxes could be assembled together to look like a castle and last for months in our basement? My Dad could build anything and fix anything, and he did all his life.

I remember weekends at a campground, being a free spirit in the woods, playing and having a great time... and long hours at the causeway fishing into the wee hours of the morning just because we could (and he couldn't help it :-) Later there would be a boat and long sunny days on the water, and a stop at a local country store for a souvenir, some candy and a soda. I had a wonderful childhood. We spent most all summer weekends at that spot, which is where my Dad loved to be and where he and my Mom eventually bought a home.

My Dad taught me how to shoot. Yes, guns; .22, .357, rifles, handguns.. you name it, he showed me how to shoot it. While I've not even held a weapon in years, I began shooting at about the age of 10 and absolutely loved it.

When I was about 13 years old I tried to pierce my ears - yes, all by myself. I thought Dad would pass out when I walked down the stairs with a needle in my earlobe, asking him if he could push it through the rest of the way - I just couldn't get a good grip. Dad patiently led me to the powder room, helped me hold ice on and finished piercing it, then he did the other one.   I think of him every time I fiddle with my earrings.

In my late teens Dad took me to buy my first car (a pickup truck), took me to my first football game (Redskins).   19 years ago on Father's Day I told my Dad that I was expecting his first Grandchild.  Last year I didn't make it down to see him on Father's Day, although something told me that I really should. Now, a year later I'm left with a bit of guilt over that, but his memory and his love surround me everyday and the memories of my childhood will always remain with me. My Dad was a great person. He was always fair and caring, liked to have fun, and certainly a pushover when it came to his kids and his grandchildren.

During the last 15 years my memories of Dad include fishing, trips on the boat and the adventures at his home on the Bay. My gosh how he loved that place. He would take that boat out and fish all day and not catch one thing... he didn't even care and would go out and do it all again the next day if he could find a willing passenger. We would sit on the wall in front of their place until the wee hours of the morning, talking, fishing and just enjoying each others' company. One night after all had gone inside, he and I were there together at about 2am. Nothing much was biting and we were just enjoying the night when it started to rain. After a few moments and drip drops I turned to him and said "Dad, it's raining", to which he said "It's just a passing shower"... and there we sat, in the middle of the night in the rain.. just for the fish.

When I was a young adult, every year Dad and I went together to the local mall for a Cinnabon, Mocha Latte and Christmas shopping.  It was a day to find gifts for my Mom.   Dad absolutely loved Christmas and loved giving gifts, but he hated shopping... the Cinnabons made it all worth while.  In the car we would listen to Charlotte Church belt out a wonderful Christmas tune and we really enjoyed our day together. Silent Night is a song that I can hardly listen to now, bringing me almost to the point of sobbing.  Looking back, I imagine that Christmas was a lot of work for Mom, since I'm sure that Dad didn't do any of it without the Cinnabons. I do know that on Christmas Eve the two of them would make drinks and close themselves in their bedroom, only emerging when a supply was needed or to get drink refills. They would wrap presents together until the early morning hours. Christmas at our house was magical.

My Mom wrote a Christmas tribute to him a few days ago that I will post here:
Christmas will never lose its glow and excitement for me…  I know I’ll get that same warm feeling each time I see the decorations in the stores, the tug on my heart at the grand children’s excitement of visiting Santa, or unwrapping all the familiar and much cherished decorations that we collected in our forty some years together.
The many Christmas Eves wrapping presents, having a drink and listing to Christmas Carols, we loved those moments together. This year listening to Christmas carols, well it’s hard... they always did make me melancholy and weepy.  All these memories I have of past Christmases shared with family and friends.
Christmas will never lose its glow and excitement for me…but this year it comes with a deep loneliness because your not here to share it with us.
Merry Christmas Don, I love you and miss you.

This won't be our first Christmas without Dad, but somehow it certainly feels like it.  I love you and miss you much Daddy, you're always in my heart.


  1. What a wonderful tribute to your father. Your post reminds me of what Kahlil Gibran wrote in "The Prophet":

    "When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy.

    "When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you rae weeping for that which has bveen your delight."

    Wishing you comfort and a Merry Christmas.

    The 'other' Cindy

  2. No words offered will help, maybe a hug will

  3. Cindy ~
    I know very much how you feel...today is the 5 month mark of my mom passing...it hit me hard this morning...it has been hitting me a bit harder than usual right now during the holidays.

    Mom was big on Christmas and it's only a few days away and she is not here with me. My heart is so sad and heavy and everything brings her to mind...so many wonderful memories to keep me going.

    I have her tree and decorations up...I do feel surrounded by her but it's still very hard.

    You wrote a wonderful tribute Cindy and your memories of your life with your dad are so special. I am with you in thought and prayer on this day and I am sending you a big hug!

  4. What a wonderful tribute Cindy. This is my first Christmas without my Dad and I agree - it is hard.

  5. You've expressed your feelings so well, so clearly, and also the feelings of many of us who are missing the parents we so love this Christmas. Thank you for giving us voice.

  6. You have done what I still cannot....express the great loss of a parent during this holiday season. My Mom passed on Christmas Eve in 1999. I still get tearful when I hear some of her favorite hymns and Christmas songs and Christmas Eve is always so difficult. I know your pain.

  7. Thanks to all of you friends who stopped by and left comments on the tribute to my Dad today. It's been a tough and emotional day, not to mention exhausting. But you've all written such nice notes that I find myself smiling tonight. Thanks for your words of strength and friendship!

  8. Cindy, I was just thinking about my first semester in college - my dad died that November - and when I came home I read this. I always think of him when I am researching our ancestors. That's when I feel him closest. I hope the memories and sense of your father's presence will help.

  9. What a beautiful tribute to your dad. I'm glad you are keeping his memory alive. I wish you were here so I could give you a hug. I remember the first anniversary of my father's passing and how difficult it was. Things are never the same; you will never be the same. Wishing you peace and comfort this holiday season.

  10. Dear Cindy, praying for God's comfort and strength during this difficult time. What a wonderful tribute.

  11. There is no greater accomplishment in life then to leave your loved ones with wonderful memories. Sounds like your Dad has accomplished a lot.

  12. What a great tribute to your father. I'm so sorry for your loss. I hope the good memories help.

  13. Forts, Kites, music--so many ways your dad enriched your young life. My dad died December 12, 1989 -- only 74, 4 years after suffering a devastating stroke. My youngest son was born 10 days later; my dad's older brother died Jan. 1, 1990. Two deaths and a birth in three weeks.

    Your dad would be proud of your paean to him, and I empathize with your loss at this time of year from personal experience. You have wonderful memories to keep your dad alive in your heart. All the best in 2011.


  14. Reminds me of my daughter and her father. I can identify with the Christmas challenges.
    Beautiful tribute.

  15. What a touching and beautiful tribute. My Dad who I was extremely close to has been gone now for almost 12 years. Not one day goes by that I do not think of him and miss him so. We are so lucky to have had such great role models and memories as some people have neither.