Monday, April 11, 2011

A letter for my father

To my dearest dad:

I struggle to find the words that would adequately describe how I am feeling about you and the enormous sense of loss that I feel.  Writing isn't my gift.  I have played back the past two weeks in my head with vivid detail, but since yesterday the details seem to be getting hazy and I'm afraid I'll forget everything about you over time as well as everything that has happened, and that would be so much worse than your actual death. 

There are so many things I want to remember about you:
  • The sound of your voice, especially when you said my name.  I'm so sad I deleted your last message on my answering machine.  Just like always, I expected there would be more...
  • Your smell and the feel of you hugs.  Those two go hand in hand for me because that's always when I'd get the best opportunity to breathe you in.  Your smell was 'off' in the hospital, but I don't want to forget even that smell.  I'll wait for your smell and know you are nearby.
  • The sweet music of your laughter.  That's what it was to me.  Music.  You had an inane ability to tell the most stupid joke and laugh at yourself.  You were always good for securing a good groan or two.  I learn every day as I get older just how much of your humour I inherited.  I see you in me through the eyes of my own children...  When they role their eyes at me, or say 'sure mom', or do their own groaning.  
  • Your "it's good enough" theory on just about everything.  Still makes me sigh and shake my head.  I think I got more humour from watching mom want to rip her hair out than anything else about it.  I suppose it's a blessing though as I never felt a pressure to be anything more than what I am.  I was good enough. 
  • The way your face lit up in the mere presence of my children.  The way you looked when you held Gage for the first time.  I will never forget that.  I was so happy for you to become a grandfather.  How excited I was to tell you he was being named after you and seeing your expression.  I've never seen a prouder moment.   That immediate bond you and he formed.  Unspoken, but so loud. 
  • The sorrow you felt when you lost your beloved dog, Max.  How that experience made you human to me.  Until then you'd always been my superhero.  So strong and stoic. 
  • The way you immediately came to my aid or rescue when I called in a panic.  You had the knack for knowing how to calm me down.  It didn't matter if it was just a phone conversation or if you had to drop what you were doing and come to my house or get up in the middle of the night and drive 2 1/2 hours to help me. You just did it.  You never wanted anything in return.  I never felt like I owed you.  But oh how I do. 
  • The way you always knew when something was bothering me.  I never had to say it.  You just knew.  Like some sort of intuition.  You were there to listen to me vent, your were there to offer advice, you were there to tell me when I was making a poor decision, you were there to just listen.  
  • The frustration of your bad habit of barging into a conversation half way through and demanding to know all the details you'd missed or just contributing your two cents without really having a clue as to what we were talking about. 
  • The abundant amount of useless knowledge you had stored in your head.  I knew to always ask you, you'd know the answer. I'm jealous of your brain and I have a love for reading because of you.  You taught me that to read meant to expand your life.  To read gave you knowledge and with knowledge comes power.  At least the power to win at 'living room Jeopardy'.
  • Your ability to fix just about anything without any formal training.  Whether that statement is true or not, it's always what I've believed.  Just call dad, he'll know exactly what to do and how to fix this.  It never crossed my mind that you just might not know.  And franky you never gave me a reason to doubt my surety.
  • Your ability to bond with my boys. It didn't matter what you were doing with them: reading stories, watching movies, going for bike rides or walks, playing with Lego and Bionicles, building things with them in your workshop, road trips, anything at all.  They were always at ease with you.  You never let them down.  Not ever.   You always came through for them.  For me.  The fun I found in watching you try to punish Gage or Roan. That was probably the only thing you weren't good at. 
  • Your sense of humour.  There is nothing that comes close.  It was crude, and sometimes inappropriate, and wrong, and stupid and regardless of any of these things it always made me laugh.  And the fact that you had the ability to laugh at yourself made me love you even more.  Your crooked smile.
  • Your strength.  Your undying strength.  It is still swimming around me.  You knew your weaknesses and strived to better yourself even when you stumbled along the way.  You had the strength to perservere.  You set your mind to something and you found a way to push through the hard times and succeed.  You had an ability to keep going.  When things got you down you found strength in your family.  From within yourself.  Your strength through the years has made me love you the most. I know I get my strength from you.  I hope your strength will be what gets me through your passing. 
  • Your hands...  It's been years since I have held your hand.  Your hands used to be so big, they'd swallow mine whole.  They kept me safe, the picked me up when I fell, they probably swatted me a few times too, but they knew how to comfort me in the end.  It's silly to hold your dad's hand when you're a big girl, I know this, but I found comfort again in those hands for the past two weeks.  They were beautiful, hard working hands. I find it calming to know your hands were the last way you were able to communicate with me.  I held your hand and you let me know you were with me.  You heard everything I had to say to you.  I will miss holding your hand. 
  • Your love.  I know for sure I'll never forget your love.  I never questioned your love for me.  It never faltered or stumbled.  It was always present, always felt.  You had an enormous heart and each one of us had our own place in it.  I know that doesn't even seem possible, but it's true.  You loved your brothers and sisters first and did your best to keep them safe and teach them life lessons, and then you loved mom and did your best to make her proud to be your wife, and then you loved us, your children, just the way a parent should love their kids.  You taught us so many lessons both spoken and through actions.  You tripped along the way a few times, but you never stopped trying.  And then you loved your grandchildren.  And there is just no words to describe the love you held for those four kids.  I think it even caught you off guard.  They got a good deal when they got you.  I was jealous of their relationship with their grandfather.  It's what I wish I could have had through the years.  You influenced them and they influenced you. 
There is just so much I don't want to forget about you, to try and list them all here would be impossible. But know that you are the man I hold every other man in my life up to.  No one will ever be as good as my dad.   I'm going to hang on to every memory for as long as I can.  I'm going to talk about you all the time with my boys and I promise to do my best to ensure that they never forget you either.  I can only hope they strive to emulate you as they go through life, that you will live on through them.

Over the past two weeks, but more importantly the last two days, I became so overwhelmed at the outpouring of love you received from your family.  I have never been more proud to be a part of this family. I suppose I expected it from your siblings, but to also see so many of your nieces and nephews step up with visits and phone calls and messages just warmed my heart, as I know it did yours.  Seeing it all first hand and feeling their love encircle all of us has made me feel so whole and complete and yet I'm broken inside without you here, all at the same time.  I see a part of you in each of your brothers and sisters.  I see a part of you in Geoff and Dawn.  I see a part of you in Gage and Roan.  I feel a part of you inside of me.  That's what I'm going to hang on to. 

You are a man I have never been more proud to call my dad.  I have always known that I took after you 100%.  I am Kit's daughter, through and through and that will help to keep you close.  You took a vow when I was born to keep me safe in this world and you accomplished that goal while you were here with me.  I'll take comfort in knowing you will continue to watch over me.  You did good bud!

We will strive to continue to make you proud, like you have made us proud.  We are the legacy you leave behind.  It's a good legacy.

Words will never express properly how much I love you but just know you will be with me forever.  Until I can see your face and hear your voice and hold your hand again, I will do you proud. 

Love your baby girl,


  1. Absolutely beautiful Holly. You do have a great gift for writing. We did not know your Dad well having only met a few times. However even those few times showed us the type of man you describe here. You are lucky to have had such a special man as your father and he was especially lucky to have such an appreciative, well rounded, loving daughter.

  2. What a beautiful tribute from a daughter to a father who made all the difference in her life. I wish that you did not have to go through this Holly, rest assured though that you will never forget your dad. He is inside you, and I am sure that he is so very proud of the warm, loving person that you became.
    Thinking of you....Lisa Green

  3. That's beautiful Holly, and as eloquent as it was, I know it doesn't even come close to covering how much you adored and respected your dad. My heart is broken for you. xoxo

  4. Beautiful :) This makes me stop and think about all the little things happening now, that I need to notice and appreciate.