I increasingly long to slow down the passing of time but I know that’s simply not possible. Today's date means that I’ve now lived longer without my father than the 19 years I had with him. April 27, 1992 will forever be embedded in me making it seem like it was yesterday. Yet not a single one of the past 7300 days has come and gone where I didn’t recognize my dad’s influence on me. I miss him – a lot.
“If there’s something you see needs to be done, you do it,” my dad would say regarding chores around the house. And it’s this mantra that’s fueled my own self-discipline over the years. I often sense and relate to my dad’s introverted side, relentless work ethic, disdain for gossip, quiet compassion, MacGyver-like creativity, and sheer love for the outdoors.
And it was what he said to me exactly 20 years ago when visiting me at UNH that I will always remember, “You’re old enough to go out and enjoy life – That’s what’s important.” Little did I (or he) know that that would be the last time we’d see each other.
But life (and death) happen -- and will continue to happen. And I made a promise to myself on that day that I would live and experience things to the absolute best of my ability. Looking back...some of the best moments in my life have happened since. I can only hope that I’ve made my dad proud.
I’ve kept a card from my college art instructor that she mailed to me in 1992. She included a poem that was given to her when her own father died five years prior. Today, I re-read it for the first time in 20 years – And the words could not be any more true:
They are not dead, those loved ones who have passed
Beyond our vision for a little while
They have but reached the light while we still grope
In the darkness where we cannot see them smile.
But smile they do, and love us,
and do not forget, or ever go so far away.
But that their hands still clasp our hands and hold
Us safe from falling when we fain would stray.
I love you Dad – Thanks for never letting go of me...