Father’s Day Remembrances

June 15, 2014

Memories of My Father on Father's Day title=Father’s Day is here. I’ve never written about my father. It’s been almost 17 years since he died. I was inspired to write this Father’s Day post by a touching post by Jill Schlesinger, a business analyst at CBS News.

My father was enigmatic. A whiz at finance, a writer and magazine editor, he had also mastered several languages and was excellent at higher math. (While I inherited Daddy’s writing genes — and my mother’s eye for graphics — there’s not a higher math gene in my body. Daddy was a genius. He was so smart that one of my cousins recently told me that he never knew what to say around Daddy. He was complex: haunted by ghosts from his own childhood, sometimes morose, and probably clinically depressed. But what I remember this Father’s Day are the lessons I learned from him.

He prided himself on being thrifty. He scrimped and saved to put three daughters through college. As a teenager, when we all think our parents are dorks, I was mortified when he bought an Irish herringbone hat at an upscale consignment shop in McLean, VA. How I wish I had it now. Sometimes, I wrap myself in a beige cardigan sweater I got after his funeral. After he died, everyone left the funeral home and I stayed behind, stroking his hair and telling him how much I loved him.

When I was 12, I asked that Santa _please_ not bring me any more dolls. Instead, he got me a book called Introduction to the Stock Market, and I was off and running. One of the best presents ever! He instilled in me a love of reading, telling me to “read the classics.” He insisted I take six years of Latin, as so many words in many languages are based on Latin. I didn’t realize it at the time, but he instilled in me a love of history, as he hauled us to Civil War battlefields and other historic sites up and down the East Coast.

At one time, I was a newspaper reporter. It was just a small-town paper, but Daddy subscribed to it and read all of my feature stories. One of my proudest moments came when, on the phone one day, my mother — who could be somewhat critical — commented that I “might be a good writer someday.” Daddy interrupted and proudly said: “She’s already a writer.” I was so proud that he said that, especially as he was often very quiet.

In 2005, while visiting my mother, I bought a yellow Stella D’Oro daylily to plant at his grave. Having not been in the area for some time, I couldn’t find the cemetery entrance. So, I brought the lily home and it continues to bloom brightly every year, as a reminder of him, even when other flowers fail. It’s blooming as I write this. I’ll bring some in tomorrow and put them in a vase, to remind me of him.

Here’s a song that reminds me this Father’s Day of the good times. I only wish Daddy was still here.

Read a cautionary tale about a woman who never understood the importance of family, and who insisted on dying alone.

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