You were always there when I needed you. My constant. My rock.
Raising two girls alone. And we are both so grateful.
A mother and father all in one for so many years.
You bought me my first bra—told me to get what I needed and put it on hold for you to pick up at the counter.
You had a job, but caught me almost every time that I did something wrong. You had a wicked sixth sense.
You discussed birth control with me.
You smoothed everything out that could have been awkward for me in your own special way.
You threw me super high in the pool and ocean and let me hold on to your neck while you body surfed when I was three.
You loved it when I was happy and brooded when I was sad.
You quelled my cravings for banana splits when I woke you past midnight, because you were just that kind of a person.
You gave me a warm hug every night and signed off with your usual, “Night night, sleep tight, and don’t let the bed bugs bite.” To which I always replied, “Only the good ones.”
You combed the beaches weekly with me looking for shells for our massive collection that I still hold dear. Those times with you were lovely.
You were wary of the boys I dated, but never got in the way except once. Do you remember that postcard you sent to my semi-stalker that said, “Dear Frank, Go fuck yourself. Love, Michigan”? (It worked—he never spoke to me again)
You cried harder than everyone except for your other daughter at my wedding.
You played a mean game of just about everything, but I most dearly remember our Cribbage competitions and the sheet that you posted on the fridge that would either proclaim your prowess or tell me to watch my back—in the most loving of ways that you could muster given your extremely competitive nature.
When I was in college, I could count on a pile of trashy magazines, and great snacks next to the couch to greet me when I came home to visit. You knew I would sleep there 24-7 for a few days after finals.
You always called me sweetie and made me feel loved.
You took the time to know me and my friends. You always asked about them and what they were up to. You took an interest in my life.
You always let me bring a friend on vacation so I would enjoy myself.
I miss so many things about you. . .
The way you laughed so freely and naturally, like water falling—spilling over rocks down a river.
The way you stuck your tongue out to the side when you were thinking.
The way you constantly encouraged me and knew just how hard to push me without breaking me.
The way you obsessively read with such concentration and voracity that you heard nothing I said to you when you were engrossed in your ever present book—It was always great to hear you laugh out loud when reading and slightly uncomfortable when you shed tears—but I was young.
The way you fiddled with the cuff of your ever-pressed pants when you were thinking.
The way you won our staring contests every time.
The way you splurged on candy, a drink and popcorn at every movie.
I can’t list every little thing, but I think you know somehow, even though you are not on earth to see these words.
I think you must have known.
Uncle Nick said, “That people often forget that the true measure of a person is reflected to all by their kids.” I hope Joanie and I have made you proud.
(Dad, Joanie and Laura)
Some skeptics have said that we have put you on a pedestal since you left us by your own hand that tragic day, but we say you earned that spot up there the hard way during your time with us.
You were such a lovely person in so many ways.
Rest easy and in peace Dad.
I hope you are enjoying yourself with a book and a good meal somewhere in this cosmos of ours.
At least I’d like to believe so.
I love you,
Love elephant and want to go steady?
Editor: Renée Picard
Photos: Courtesy of author.