On April 28, 2010, we lost my dad. Suddenly. Without warning. One minute he was mowing the lawn on a clear, beautiful April evening. And the next, I was getting the kind of phone call you know is inevitable...someday...but can never be ready for. In some ways it seems like ages since we lost him, but in most ways it seems like yesterday. Not because there is profound sadness or grief anymore -- not most days -- but because it just doesn't seem possible that our family has been without him for that long.
For months I have known that I would write a post today and that it would be about my dad. For a while I thought about writing about that day. Where I was. The weird details I remember, like the exact outfit I was wearing when I got the news from my sister-in-law. I thought about writing about what the process of losing a parent has taught me. What it was like. How devastated I was and how hard those days were. But that doesn't seem like the best way to honor him now. And honor him is what I want to do.
|Our dance at my wedding. The dance no one thought my dad would agree to. Not only did he agree, but he loved every second of it.|
So instead I want to think about some of the great things about my dad. The things I still think of often and find comforting and uplifting. The things that make me smile.
I loved the way my dad laughed...and I loved how my brothers were the ones who could really get him going. When he really thought something was funny, he would smile and look like he was laughing, but no sound would come out. He would actually shake with laughter, but make absolute no noise. I have this mental image of him sitting at the head of the dining room table, shaking and turning red over something one of my brothers had just said. No Sunday or holiday dinner was complete without a soundless laugh from my dad. Watching him having so much silent fun made us all laugh too.
I was always amazed by my dad's ability to trace the connections between two people - no matter how intricate. He would mention someone to me, someone he assumed I knew, and when I pointed out that I didn't actually know who that was, he would first argue with me a little. As in, "Oh Sarah, you know him. Sure you do." When I had assured him that I, at the very least, couldn't recall at that second exactly who the person was, he would explain in great detail who that person's parents, grandparents, second cousins, and/or neighbors were. It was remarkable. Eventually he could always trace the connection back to someone I actually did know and he could continue with his story, assured that I knew who he was talking about.
My dad and I didn't have a lot of heart-to-heart talks about emotional, "girly" things. That was more my mom's department. We are, in fact, talking about the man who used to pick up the phone receiver in another part of the house when I was in high school talking to my boyfriend to tell me I had been on the phone long enough. But there are some very distinct memories I have of times when he knew exactly what to say. Like when I was having kind of an emotional time my junior year of college - probably something related to a stressful assignment or something - and I found a letter from my dad, typed on his old school typewriter on his business letterhead, in my mailbox at school. A letter that reminded me that there are things more important than grades and that school is as much about what happens outside the classroom as it is about lectures and papers. Or the day I checked my first semester law school grades online at my parents' house and had an absolute go-to-pieces when they were, um, lower than I expected, and my dad drove home from his office to give me a hug and assure me that no one ever asked him what his college or grad school grades were, life moves on, and my worth was not measured on an A to D scale. He just knew what to say sometimes.
|All smiles at my swearing in ceremony with the Kentucky Bar Association.|