April 25, 2021 will mark the 25th anniversary of my dad's passing. There are times when it seems like just yesterday and times when it seems like forever since he was here. He died of complications from colon cancer at age 66. There are so many things he missed - graduations, weddings, new homes, family reunions, the publication of my first and second novels. My dad was the kind who would tell everyone he met about the accomplishments of those he loved. Not in a bragging sort of way, but with definite love and pride. I can only imagine how his face would have looked if he'd been here to receive the news that my debut novel was to be published, what he would have said after reading it, and how he would have told neighbors, friends, and coworkers all about it. I like to think that somehow he does know and is pleased and proud.
A dyed-in-the-wool Vermonter, a stoic Yankee, Dad didn't show a lot of emotion or talk much about his feelings. Nonetheless, it was obvious by his actions that his family was dear and of the utmost importance to him. Our joys and accomplishments were his delights, our sorrows, his wounds. How he would have rejoiced, how proud he would have been. The loss is mine, I realize. He is at peace. I am the one yearning to celebrate with him. Perhaps I still can. I can find a quiet spot and picture myself telling him the news of my first book's publication, handing him a copy. I can imagine his expression, his words to me and to others. I can allow myself to revel in his praise, his joy, his pride in me. The feeling can be as real for me as if he was truly here.
I don't think I appreciated his enthusiasm, his trumpeting of our successes enough while he was still with us. It's true that we don't know what we have until we lose it. I now realize that my quiet, reserved, dad was probably my very best cheerleader. I miss you, Daddy!
Dad, our cat, Kiki, and me on vacation at Cape Cod in the late 1960s or early 1970s.