A year ago today, we had heavy, wet snow in the morning. I took this picture.
It was the day that my Dad died, and my heart was broken.
I thought a lot about whether to post today. In the end, I decided that I need to write about Dad, but not necessarily about his death.
Instead, I want to write about things I will always remember about my Dad.
1. Dad taught me to recognize cardinals, blue jays, and chickadees when I was a kid. I still think of him whenever I see any of those birds—which is often, since we have blue jays and cardinals living in the pine trees next to our house.
2. Dad had a rough exterior, but he was a “softie” in many ways. Every Valentine’s Day, Mum would get a big heart box of candy, and each of us “girls” would get a little one. Later, when I was in my sophomore year at college, he sent flowers to my dorm.
3. My father loved my mother from the moment he first laid eyes on her. Here they are as newlyweds:
4. There is no way to think of my father without recalling his numerous WWII stories. He never (or rarely) discussed the horrors that he saw—and there must have been many—but he told foolish stories over and over and over again…
5. Dad was really smart. I think that he was intimidated by my education--he certainly was defensive about it. But I don't think he realized fully that my analytical abilities came from him.
6. Dad was incredibly responsible. Whenever he went out to dinner, he would order one Southern Comfort Manhattan. If he wanted a second one, he would first ask Mum if she was willing to drive home in his stead.
7. Dad was a party line democrat and union man. Ever since I turned 18 and was eligible to vote, we talked (either to celebrate or mourn) after every major election.
8. For years after he retired, Dad made seafood chowder every Christmas Eve. Everyone in the family would come by at some point to have chowder and chat for a while.
9. My son, Samuel, looks just like my Dad—including the way he furrows his brow when he concentrates. My daughter looks nothing at all like him, but she adored him from the time she was an infant. These are two of my favorite pictures of Anya and Grandpa together when she was a babe.
10. Star Trek fans would recognize my Dad as “Scottie.” Dad was a machinist at Gorton’s of Gloucester for decades. He used to say that if a machine is broken, you should always tell your boss it will take twice as long to fix as you think it will—that way, when you’re done early, you’ll be a hero.
11. Dad loved strawberry shortcake. I plan to eat it on his birthday every year.
12. Dad would argue with you even if you agreed with him.
There are plenty of other stories, unpleasant as well as pleasant, that I could tell about my Dad. But right now, I just want to remember this ordinary, quirky, salt-of-the-earth man who shaped my world in profound ways. I miss him still.
What do you cherish about your Dad, or your memory of him? What would you like your children or other loved ones to remember about you?