I can’t believe that it’s been eleven years since we last saw you. Eleven years since anyone has called me “little girl”. Eleven long years without your unshakeable sense of what is right and what is wrong.
I wonder, often, what you’d make of us now.
I know that you would love your four beautiful great grandchildren. I know that you watch over them. You see them play, see them grow, see them laugh. I know that. But what about the rest of us?
You are in a better, more forgiving place now. Do you see our mistakes and our sorrows, and do you understand the frailties that have lead us here? Do you forgive us for where we find ourselves?
Dad, we’re doing our best to take care of Mom, just the way you asked us to. I remember you telling me that you didn’t want to leave “my girl” and asking me to make sure that we looked after her as tenderly as you always did.
We’re trying, Dad. And I think we’re doing OK. She’s safe and she’s well loved. And we all talk about you all the damn time!
What must you be thinking about the situation in our country right now? You have no idea how much I wish that I could hear your voice, weighing in on our anger and our fear and our broken and damaged country.
You fought for this country, when you were barely more than a child. What must you be thinking now?
I can only imagine, knowing your strict moral compass. I can only imagine.
Dad, I miss you. You’re here every day with me, smiling at my grandkids. I feel you over my shoulder as I refinish Paul’s old desk. I remember your lessons about sanding with the grain, and using my tack cloth.
I feel you when I am celebrate with my sons as they get ready to marry the women that they love so much. You’d be so proud of them, Dad.
And there are such funny things, too, in my memory of you. I can’t look at dominoes without thinking about you playing with the kids. I can’t drink bad red wine without hearing your laugh. Every time I try to draw a straight line on the paper schedule that we make for Mom each month, I hear you telling me to mark the top and bottom.
“Measure twice, cut once,” Paul says, repeating one your many lessons. “All things in moderation,” I said to a local farmer yesterday as I bought his beef and lamb, knowing that we’re supposed to be eating less meat. “All things in moderation, including moderation.” The farmer laughed, and so did I. I felt you standing right beside me, laughing with us.
Your lessons surround us, and guide us, even now.
Tonight I turned on some music. (It’s all on the computer now, Dad. So cool and so convenient! You’d be amazed and fascinated to see it.)
I was making pickles and drying herbs as the music played in the background.
And suddenly I heard a song called “All in Your Name” by a beautiful young songwriter and singer named Heather Maloney. And I couldn’t stop crying.
I guess that’s OK, huh? It’s OK to still grieve for you.
You were our hub. You were the anchor. We miss you so very much, every day. Without you, this world is just little less honest. A little bit less sure.
And so much less fun.