Mosaic of love

Today is the 16th anniversary of my father’s death.

I read a blogger friend’s post recently where it was suggested to her to maybe not try to remember the anniversaries of her father’s death, to not mark the time of her own father’s death.

She cannot as I cannot.

For me, my life’s clock was reset the moment my dad was diagnosed. There is before cancer, during cancer, and after cancer. Usually I divide my life span simply into before his death and after. Now there is a new time frame in front of me. One I set for myself days after he died: “When you are 32, 16 years will have passed since he died. And the day after will be the beginning of a new era.  You will have survived. You will have made it.” That may sound all weird and even a bit dramatic, but it is my truth. My truth as a 16-year-old and consciously and unconsciously I clung to that marker of time. I can’t say if this is right or wrong. It is what it is.

Today, I am on the cusp of something new. My clock is once again about to be reset. Time will begin again marking and ticking off its self in different ways…

In my time frame of before his death and after, I grouped people into two categories: Those who knew him and those who did not. How odd to be surrounded by friends and family who never knew my dad. It is strange indeed.

I wish everyone had the chance to know him.

He wasn’t perfect or epic.

No, instead he was solid and good. Words are inadequate, but there it is.

Solid.

Good.

In a world of fakes and phonies, he shone brightly.

I am proud of my father. I am thankful for his heritage, his legacy. I see glimpses of him in my nephews and niece. My brother-in-laws tell me stories giving me another view of my dad I had not known previously.

Today I sit on the back porch smiling.
I tell my 16-year-old self we’ve made it.

I wonder at the mysteries of this life.
I wonder at the heartaches and joys each of us carry.

I am thankful that I don’t remember him as sick – as a man defined unwillingly by cancer.

Instead

I remember him on Sunday afternoons drawing on the chalkboard with me – showing me how to draw our home in pinks, yellows, and blues.

I remember late night tee-peeing, forking yards and spending time with my sisters and mom.

I remember him floating in the swimming pool and me trying to dunk him unsuccessfully.

I remember him being a dad-like presence for my friends.

I remember spring break trips and summer vacations and road trips.

I remember him sitting near the old worn highchair and feeding my oldest nephew as a baby. And him holding my niece.

I remember him sitting in that old blue recliner.
And me pretending to be asleep in his lap in that old blue recliner so I could catch an episode or two of MASH.

I remember him walking each of my sisters down the aisle at their weddings.

I remember Christmases and birthdays.

I remember laughter.

Mostly I remember love.

To know my family is to know his presence, his legacy, his love.

All of this is a mosaic –
a memory mosaic of life well-lived and well-loved.

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32 comments

  1. I am so proud of you! Your words made me cry as I read it aloud to Blake and Ben on the way to pickup their highschool schedules! Describing your dad to them by saying Papa and him were best friends! My dad thought the same thing solid and good! I like to think of it as anniversaries of the heart! Those moments in our lives that a shift occurs and then everything is different from that point forward! We quietly pass over it each year and others around us are unaware how monumental a day it truly is for us! Thanks for sharing with us your story!

  2. Well said! Reading this brought back fond memories that I know are priceless. He was a great man, and you are an amazing legacy of that. I love you and am very proud of all that you have accomplished!

  3. I love this post. I can relate, having lost my Dad at 14. I also choose to remember all the good things that we did together and how he was. I am thankful to have had him in my life, even for a short period of time. I’m glad you are smiling today, as I know it can be hard. Thinking of you!

    1. Thank you, Tammy! I know you understand in a deep, intrinsic knowing way. I am thankful too. And it is wonderful to be in that place of gratefulness.

  4. Beautiful! You know I had to get out the kleenex. 😉 I was thinking about Dad today, too, and I’m not a big death anniversary watcher. But in August around school time, I always think of him. The great thing is that now I don’t remember him sick either. I think of all the good times and what a blessing he was in our lives. Lots of laughter and loads of wisdom all bundled into one wonderful man!

  5. Thanks for sharing. Beautifully written.

    My husband’s father passed about 15 years ago, and I sadly never had the chance to meet him. I constantly hear stories about him from my husband and I’m sad that I never knew him. But the more stories I hear, the more I realize how much my husband is like him, so in a way, I kind of do know him. 🙂

  6. Kristen, this is beautiful. I wish I had known him. When people speak of him, they have only kind words. Glad to see you post this.

  7. Wiping away the tears as I remember this fine, gracious gentleman whom I was glad and happy to call my “son-in-law”. He really was “one-in-a-million” husband and father,and so proud of HIS 3 GIRLS. Beautiful tribute to a great person.

  8. Kristin, how beautiful this tribute and remembrance you have written about your dad. Your mom and I both cried tonight and more tears came while reading this. I would visit your dad in those horrible cancer days and I can tell you he was so strong and brave and trusting in His Lord and loving his family so much. We had such good visits then. Yes, solid and good, and with a gentleness that will always be admired. Some don’t have the memories that you and Kyndal and Sissy have. That you can be so very thankful for. Memories are a wonderful thing.

  9. Such wonderful memories! What an absolutely beautiful tribute to his life. By recording your memories this way, you insure his memory – his legacy – lasts forever. Thank you for sharing him with us.

  10. I am letting the tears flow as I remember one of the favorite men in my life with you. I remember him as a boy. Then shortly after Georgann was born and George was in Japan, he had gotten his driver’s license and would drive to our apartment on 16th Street and visit me and Georgann who was not yet 6 months old. Despite us, he chose OSU over OU! Georgann and Laura were flower girls at Kenneth’s and Candy’s wedding. Maybe they were candle lighters – whatever their role in the wedding, their little yellow dresses are packed away still. Kenneth had such unshakable faith which he lived as an example for all of us. His loss was devastating. I last visited his grave when we buried Steve’s sister August, 2010. How he would have delighted in his family for each of you carry in you the traits that he valued. Much love to all.

    1. Remember vividly this gentle man. A quiet spirited fun loving family man.
      Respected by many, favored by God and man. Forever thankful his offspring
      became our daughter-in-law. A journey back in time to today, tells me his
      influence remains in all those he instilled Godly values and wisdom from a
      heart that loved and served the Lord.

      Thanks Kristen for the opportunity to share in your wonderful memories.

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