My Dad

My dad died suddenly on March 26, 2013. I have about a dozen, half-written blog posts on my computer that I just can’t bring myself to publish. Some of these posts describe the life of my dad, and others are my conversations with him after his death. None of these posts feel right. None of these posts are good enough to describe his life, his accomplishments, his lasting influence on me, or how horribly I miss him. He was my father and my very best friend. And his loss is so incredibly painful.

Saying Goodbye

But I have to move on. By writing a few incomplete thoughts here I am hoping that I can move forward in some little way. I know that dad would want that.

The night before he died, dad talked with my entire family. He spoke to my three kids telling them each how much he loved and missed them. Then, he and I had our last conversation. Dad told me how much he loved me, and how I have made him proud. He was unusually sad, and he said it over and over again. I feel now that he, in some way, knew his time had come.

Since he passed away, I’ve wondered what I could have said differently to him during our last call. I told him that I loved him, that I missed him very much, and that I would see him very soon. I am so happy that these were my last words to him, although I’ve been struggling with the last part of that sentence for the past 96 days. Soon wasn’t soon enough.

But over the past few weeks, I have seen my dad in ways that I didn’t see before. I see my dad in my oldest girl’s mannerisms, in my boy’s physical appearance, and in my youngest girl’s expressions. I feel my dad within me in the way that I hold my hands against my face sometimes, in the way that I hug my children, and in the way that I love and care for my mother. He is ever present. He is all around me.

So I have to get better at not missing the things that I can’t have – his laugh, his advice, his concern, his voice – and I need to focus on the things about my dad that I still carry with me. There is so much to be grateful for and I need to appreciate and honour all that I have gained through my extraordinary relationship with my beloved father.

I miss you dad. I love you more than anything, and I am thankful for everything that you have given me. You’ve made me the man that I am today. And I will not disappoint you.

Me and My Dad

  • Trina Crawford

    A beautiful tribute and reflection. Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  • Without even knowing your dad, I know the kind of man he was just by what I see in you and George. My students and I benefitted from your dad through the stories you shared of him. How wonderful it must be to have those memories.

    We all go on and on about the glories of social media, but this is definitely one of those times when our “connection tools” fall egregiously short. There are no words that we can write to you to comfort you, hug you, and say face to face that you are in our hearts, thoughts, and prayers. Please know that you are.

    Thanks for writing and sharing with us something so intensely personal, Alec. Much love to you and your family.

  • Sara

    My dad died in 2007. I am still recovering. I honestly don’t know if you ever do recover. I understand.

  • What a great tribute you are to your dad. If he influenced your life, he must have been a great guy because I think you are pretty awesome. Thanks for sharing this with us. I’m praying for you as you process this. I can only imagine what you are going through.

  • Alicia Higgison

    Alec, this is a genuine & gorgeous post.
    The part about the pieces of him that live on in your kids is such a peaceful thought. That you will have him forever in yourself, and then you get to share him with the world through your kids.
    Beautiful. It feels like you left part if your heart here. Thanks for sharing this.

  • Cheryl Morin

    May you and your family continue to find precious reminders and memories of your dad, always. Peace to you and your family.

  • It may not feel like it, but having read this post 3 times, I could not imagine a more loving and touching honor a Dad could ever want to hear. It’s not about getting it right, or capturing it all, its about telling his story, your story, all that goes in that embrace of the closing photos. It’s what you remind your kids about what he meant to you, modeling all the good you saw in him.

    You seemed to have said it all in the last conversation. What more is there beyond ‘I love you”? It’s not the words, its the acts, the person you are.

    That’s a powerful idea to think about the reminders of the presence of your Dad rather than the absence. That is really powerful.

    Of course you don’t “get over this” – it remains with you at varying levels for ever.

    I always wonder if someone sharing their experience in response to yours means much, but that’s how we do relate experiences. In June 2001 I had a trip to Australia (too) for a conference, knowing already my Dad was dying of cancer (we knew in March). I had months to figure out the things I wanted to say… and am not sure I ever found it. We conversed like we always did, in phone and email. I got a labrador puppy i named after his nickname (Mickey), the one I still use as my icon/logo. I visited him i Florida a few weeks before we passed, and still did not have any big speeches or outpourings. We just were together, and what was really said was unsaid. We knew it.

    The value is the sum total of all those life experiences with your Dad, and the person you were with him and are now with your family and the world. I still do not know how a dad could feel much more love and respect and friendship and fatherhood as that.

    Just be.

  • This is a beautiful tribute to your Dad. Thank you for sharing it. Thoughts of my Dad came pouring through my veins in reading about your Dad. I see my Dad in my kids & myself daily, and I love him even more for it. You have & will continue to make your Dad proud. His presence will be with you in everything you do.

  • Thank you for sharing this post and for writing about what truly matters. Your dad was amazing and you are blessed to be in that family. I can not imagine the depth of the grief and the journey that you are on. Thinking of you.

  • Paul Clarke

    A beautiful tribute. I too love my dad, and will give him a longer harder hug when I see him next. Beautifully written.

  • Dean Giustini

    I agree with Sara. My mum died in 2008, and I don’t know if you ever recover from the death of someone who loved you unconditionally. Your reflection reminds me to love my widower father every day.

  • When we lose someone, we may lose a bit of ourselves. Yet, we must remember how much we have gained from having been around them. The richness of their experiences, kindness, lessons, love .. those will always remain. Your father has left a great legacy. Big hug x

  • Lovely post Alec, and I hope it was as good to write as it was for us to read it. Others have made very positive and affirmative comments, but I just wanted to add something. This post is not just read by us now but can be read by your children in the future. Your openness and affirmation of your father help keep him real for your children who knew him for a fairly short time. My father died when I was 17 long before my children were born but I often spoke of him, and they joined us and the rest of the family in celebrating his 100th birthday nearly forty years after his death. Keep on keeping him alive.

  • I was really touched reading your tribute to your dad. I lost my mom several years ago and she’s still with me in just about everything I see, touch, hear, smell. I too wrote many unfinished blog posts that will never be published. Loss of our parents is painful, especially when you are so close. You honored your dad well.

  • Alec, when you reach out and share your stories and your learning with others, you share a part of your dad that is precious. My children have grown up without their grandpa just as yours will spend too much of their lives without your dad. Though it has been almost 20 years since my dad passed, I still think about how he has influenced the person I am, the values I hold dear and the relationships I cherish with my children. I think about the things I do that would give him joy and the ways my children honour him everyday.

    Here’s to many years of continuing to make our dads proud.

  • Alec, like everyone else, I watched your dad through your sharing in person and online. I felt like I knew a lot about him even though I never had the opportunity to meet him face to face. I saw him as a man committed to his family and to what was best for them, not himself.
    It is indeed difficult when someone we love passes away and in some ways that never heals. There is, though, a way in which your father lives on, through you, through your children and later through THEIR children. You have mentioned some of the mannerisms and genetic traits that will be passed on, but I think the values that your dad taught you and that will now be passed through the generations are even more significant. In that way, he will continue to live and to influence your lives.

  • Lost my dad 2 years ago … and I think about him every day. So sorry to hear of your loss Alec.

    Martin

  • Carol G

    I thank you and your brother for writing these posts on your dad. I lost my mom almost a year ago and I miss her everyday. I also have many unfinished posts, I can’t find the words but reading your and your brothers posts have helped me. I think it’s about finding the new way to live and trying to remember the funny times when your heart aches for the one you lost. Thank you.

  • Dan

    My father passed away about a year and a half ago. I miss him alot. My dad was a man of few words, so he gave very simple, basic advice. His English was really bad and it was actually a running family joke. But after he passed I realized that this simple advice had profound impact on who i am today. My father and I never spoke at great lengths when we saw each other. He wasn’t handy, or particularly career driven, or funny to most people. But he was selfless when it came to our family and his profound love for my brother and sister and I was never questioned. We felt it and in fact took it for granted most of the time. He was that good at being our dad. I see my dad in my son every single day. His mannerisms, his hands, his little dimple in his elbow, the way he looks up at me when is eating his pasta. It makes me very sad that my father will miss out on seeing my kids grow up, and that he never got to play with my kids like he did with my nephews. But my little blue-eyed, blonde haired “terrible two” year old running around my house is a daily reminder of my dad. And the father I have become and hope to be with my kids will be my lifelong tribute to my dad too. Thanks for sharing this post.

  • I don’t have the right words but simultaneously feel compelled to write. I can only offer the observation of the community, full of love, respect and celebration of your father, visible here, is the manifestation of the spirit of your Dad. I imagine how incredibly proud and honoured he would be to see the love you have sowed in your life. What a powerful way for your dad to live on, in and through, your family, your community and the lives of many you impact with your large heart and willingness to share yourself with others.

  • Ágica Fogarasi

    I’m praying for you as you process this. A beautiful tribute. Thanks for sharing this. I think, your dad taught you will now are even more significant he will continue to live and to influence your lives, through you, through your children and later through THEIR children. I too love my dad, and will give him a longer harder hug day in, day out, as long as there is with me.

  • Domi Enders

    I still see my dad, more and more it seems–in dreams, in others (even in strangers sometimes), in the aging details of my hands, in my own assets and defects. Love keeps us all alive and connected in perpetuity. Nothing is lost. It’s been 17 years. Still miss him but feel closer than ever.

    Thx for ur wonderful talk today. If u have a minute for coffee around 1 pm tom, please lmk. Domi

  • Alec,
    I had to let a day pass to come back here, read again. I am so sorry to learn of your loss. I had even thought a while back that your presence online was somehow different lately. I chalked it up to continuous network evolution…no big deal. Now I see why/what was different.

    Thank you for your discernment and candor as you shared about your love for your father. So beautiful. Your story conjured fresh memories for me around the loss of my own father – over 30 years ago when I was in my early 20’s. He was a simple, humble craftsman who worked with his hands and loved his family fiercely. I am grateful for your post to bring that vividly to my mind again.

    My heart aches anew for the love and loss of him – and for you. What a fitting tribute to them both – that sweet memories live on long, long after they are gone.

    Thank you.

  • Scott St Pierre

    My sincerest condolences, Alec. I had heard of your father’s passing and, as I kept running into you these past few months, it was good to see that you were surrounded by family, especially at this time.

    My father has been battling stage 4 cancer this past year and I have spent many nights wondering if I am going to have to come to grips with the idea of life without him around. Luckily my father is currently in remission.

    I would like to offer a blog post from a friend of mine who’s father past away about a year and a half ago…
    http://robhasawebsite.com/fathers-day-dennis-cesternino-conversation-dad/

  • Hello Alec,
    Firstly…my sincere condolences go out to you and your family in regards to your Dad’s passing. Secondly, thank you for sharing your intimate thoughts with respect to your experience of handling his death. I gleaned a great deal from your writing. Certainly, I can relate to the huge emotional element that you were faced with during this time. To share a similar moment with you, my father passed away on January 10, 2008 (CV complications, diabetes, lung cancer)…but I was very fortunate to have the opportunity to sit by his bedside before he died and hold his hand, explain to him how much I loved him and was indebted to him for bringing me into this world (along with my mom). He was unable to speak but he did cry when I was speaking to him…making me feel that he understood. My daughter and wife were with me at the time…it was a moment that is welded in my mind forever. My heartfelt feelings of sympathy and understanding go out to you. Obviously, you had a very special relationship with you Dad. I would surmise that a part of him is present in everything you do.

    Keep on your path — you’re making a significant difference in the world. Your Dad is very proud of you.

    Everyday is a GIFT!

  • Diane Main

    Wow. Sorry I am just now seeing this. I feel your pain. After my Dad passed, I started a blog called “Letters to Granddad.”

    My Dad passed in late March of 2008. I started the blog in late January of 2009. Two posts two days in a row then, and just one more, in February of 2011. I intended to blog to be written by me from my son’s perspective. I ended up finding it too painful, although it was somewhat cathartic, to keep up.

    When my hands shake, I think of Dad. I inherited it from his side of the family. When I put lotion on the tattoo on my right shoulder, I think of Dad. When I pin the “Donate Life” pin to my shirt every morning, I think of Dad. The tattoo and pin are in his honor.

    Even today, some five and a half years later, I had a brief inkling to call my Dad and tell him something. Those times happen less frequently now, and then inkling is a mere millisecond. But it still happens. And I think, sometimes, that is my Dad telling me he’s still here. I, too, see him in my son’s kindness and silly sense of humor. When my son always offers the last cookie or other treat to me or his Dad, I know that it’s partly MY Dad living through him.

    Again, I am sorry for your loss. I wish there were something I could say or do to help. But all I can say is I understand somewhat. And yes, it sucks that’s he’s not here. God bless.

  • Jennifer Snyder

    I am so sorry for your loss Alec! I’m so sorry to all of you who have written here. I still have my father in my life, though I don’t see him nearly often enough, a wrong that I will surely rectify now thanks to you!