Tag Archive | grieving

My Father’s Daughter

I am my father’s daughter.

I have his analytical mind, his skin that resists sunburns, his love of peas and his awkward smile in photographs.  I also have his asthma, his allergies and his appendicitis at the age of 27.  Our eyes both crinkle when we laugh. Just like him, I can save money like nobody’s business. We are both Virgos. Plain yellow mustard is where it is at.  I have his nose and his love of snow, although he loves driving in it and I don’t.

Dad and me in Michigan

 

I was one of those children who grew up with both of my parents, married for my entire life.

We went camping when I was a kid in the maxi-van that was converted into a camper, seeing Yellowstone and taking the ferry up to Alaska before driving back down to the states.  We went to Hawaii when I was 8, and Mexico when I was 9.  Like me, he remembers dates. We spent Christmas in a snowstorm in Michigan the year I was 13.

I was an insomniac at an early age, and my dad would lead me through an exercise of tensing up all my muscles in turn, and then shaking it off, so I could relax enough to fall asleep. He would get up in the middle of the night when I had nightmares, and soothe me back to sleep.  He let me sit on his lap in that big black Naugahyde chair while he watched the evening news and read the paper.

He taught me to play chess, checkers, Chinese checkers and Score Four.

He shared my love of photography.  On a trip to Yellowstone when I was 6 or 7, he let me use the camera to take any picture I wanted.  I couldn’t decide until I found the perfect subject.  An elk carcass.  He never told me no.  I still have that picture.  In high school, he gave me his old SLR camera and showed me how to use the timed exposure to photograph nighttime landscapes.

He cheered at my swim meets and hauled my horses to horse shows, even after he developed allergies to horses.  He caved when I wanted yet another cat, even though we are both allergic to cats. He petted them when we weren’t looking.

We went for bike rides on the weekends.  He and my mom grew a garden and dug potatoes and planted beets because I wanted them, even though neither of them like beets. He loved the corn.

Dad on a bike ride in Michigan

He got up at 5:20 am every day of his working life and made fried eggs for breakfast. In middle school my bus came early so we ate breakfast together in the mornings. I wasn’t allowed to come to the dinner table in my pajamas.

The day my horse was so badly injured when I was 16, he cried with me, and never made me feel badly when I vomited all over the floor of his classic 1968 Cougar.  He bought that Cougar new in 1968.  When I was young we pretended that the map light switch was a turbo thruster.  When I flipped it he would gun the engine up the hill towards home.

He needed routine and spontaneity made him uncomfortable.  I am my father’s daughter, although I am a bit more flexible.  If you needed him to do something, a few days’ notice was ideal.  The teenage years drove him nuts, when I wanted him to drive me somewhere on a moment’s notice.  He liked to do his Sudoku, read the paper, and watch his shows.  Clockwork.

He tried to tutor me on my math homework, even though he could never understand why I just didn’t get how multiplying two imaginary numbers made a real number.  He delighted in solving my extra credit algebra problems in college (you could use any and all methods at your disposal), and even cracked the one with ten variables and ten equations.  I was the only one who came in with the correct answer.  That said, proofreading my English papers was not his thing…

When my mom battled colon cancer 21 years ago, I saw a man who would have been devastated to lose her.  It was the second time I ever saw him cry.

He was proud of me when I got my Bachelor’s degree, even though he didn’t really understand what I would do with a degree in Spanish.  He was proud of me when I got my Master’s degree in business, and relieved that I had decided on something more practical.

In preschool, I sprouted a chestnut seed, and we planted the seedling in the back yard.  When my parents moved away from that house I grew up in when I was 25, and they had to cut down that now big tree, my father had a wood turner make two bowls from its trunk.  He gave me those bowls for Christmas.

He and my mom came to all my parties, met all my friends, and were always kind to them all.  I had the kind of house growing up that my friends wanted to hang out at.

My parents and me at my Aunt Elaine’s

He always made me laugh in those days before caller ID when I called and said, “Hi Dad,” and he responded with “Who’s this?”  I am his only daughter.

My parents and me at my wedding

When I got divorced, he quietly supported me, listening as I ranted and cried and broke.  It was the third time I saw my father cry.

When I told him that I wanted to build a bed in my car and camp in it for several months last summer, he designed a platform bed with legs that swung out of the way to access the storage underneath, and slide out shelves to hold my camp stove.  We took the seats out of my car and we built it together.

Dad and the Car Build

I am now a fatherless daughter.  My dad died unexpectedly on Tuesday morning, February 5.  There is no word to define a daughter who has lost a father, but I now join the ranks of all those other daughters who miss their dads.

Our relationship wasn’t perfect, but I am blessed to have had him.  It wasn’t enough time.  It was too soon.

I feel selfish; I got more from my dad than many daughters will ever receive.  But I still wanted more.  I am devastated to know that I may very well live more years without my dad than with him.

My heart is broken.  I will miss you forever, Dad.

 

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Rest in Peace, Larry

I found out on Wednesday night that my former boss passed away on Monday.  As far as I know he wasn’t sick.  He was going on a fly fishing trip in early October and had still been working and vacationing.  He was in his late seventies though; that age when even if someone’s death is a shock, it isn’t necessarily a surprise.

I knew Larry for seventeen years.  I met him when I took a few classes at the community college after I got my MBA and graduated in the middle of a recession.  I interned for him, and he took me under his wing.  He took me to meetings, gave me projects to build my skills in my career field, and exposed me to influential people in the community.  He didn’t have to do any of it…  He was a true mentor.

He helped me get my first career job, calling my soon-to-be-supervisor to give me a great reference.  I got the job.  Then when an opening came up where Larry worked and I had interned, he called me to let me know he wanted me to come back and work for him.  We worked together for eight years until he retired in 2009.

Larry taught me a piece of career wisdom that I will never forget.  You work someplace as long as it works for you.  There is no faster way to make your life suck than to dislike your job.  The people are just as important as the work, and those people aren’t likely to change, at least not fast enough for it to matter.  You spend too much time there to be unhappy.  The same is true for your personal relationships.

He showed me that you can be professional and still have a great sense of humor.  He loved to lighten the mood in a tough situation, and didn’t take life, or himself, too seriously.  I loved working for him.

Larry and I stayed friends over the years, through different jobs of mine and consulting work of his, to personal joys and trials.  He moved to Nevada for a sunnier and more affordable retirement, but we stayed in touch through texts, phone calls and visits.  He was frequently back in my area doing consulting work, which let us get together from time to time over a bottle of red wine.

I talked to him about getting together in Nevada in October while I was on my road trip, but he was out of town on the days that I was there.  I didn’t know at the time that it would be the last time we talked.

True friends come along rarely in this world, and I will always be grateful that I had the experience of having a boss and mentor become a real friend.  I know a lot of people felt that way about him.

Rest in peace, Larry.  You are very, very missed.