A little tribute to my father

My father’s eyes were the most beautiful shade of pale blue, like azure crystals. I’ll never forget them. During the time my father had terminal  cancer,  he and I went for breakfast one morning when he was still able to get around.   I remember sitting across the table from him engaged in conversation,  and as I looked at him,  the  thought came  to me, “Remember those beautiful eyes.  Never forget how full of life they are and how they sparkle.  Never forget.” 

                                                                                                                                 Some time in the late 1970’s, myself, my dad, Emil and my mom, Annie

It’s been 30 years since I last saw my father. He was a short, handsome guy who was partially bald. He was the most fantastic man. Everyone loved him and he had many friends. He could fix anything, and he loved to garden and bake.  We lived in Chicago, and the little garden plot next to our house was always abloom with color bursting from the rows and rows of dahlias and gladiolas he grew. My dad was always anxious for the gladiolas to  open up because they were his favorite.  Gladiolas were his August birthday flower and as soon as they were ready, he’d cut a bundle of them and proudly display them in a vase in the middle of our kitchen table. He always grew a large vegetable garden every year and I still remember all summer long the tasty bundles of  leaf lettuce, onions and juicy tomatoes we’d pick just before eating our sandwiches.   My father was Bohemian and knew how to bake all kinds of delicious goodies.  My favorite was baked Houska (sweet braided bread with raisins), and it was so good it even topped the loaves you could buy at the corner bakery.  And when I was small, he always made me my own little loaf in a little, mini pan.  Love.

My father adored me.   I was the proverbial ‘daddy’s girl.’ We got along great, but there were times when he was moody. For instance, I could tell how the day was going to go depending on the tone he used to say “good morning” when I ran into him in the kitchen. And when I’d help him work on small odd jobs he always managed to lose his temper because I inadvertently didn’t do something right and he’d lose patience with me.  Funny, but now that I look back at those times I have to smile because I was kind of dopey!

My father taught me so much when I was a child, but one of the things about him I remember the most is the relationship he had with other people.  It seemed that everyone loved him.  He was funny and generous and good hearted.  He was a great neighbor and on the job he was loyal to his peers and as a Union Steward, an advocate to his fellow factory workers.  He always taught me to treat my guests like gold, and was a living example to me on how to be a good friend.

What I do know more than anything is that he loved me unconditionally. And for that, I’ll be forever grateful. I don’t think I’d be the person I am today if I didn’t grow up with his love and encouragement. One thing I didn’t think would ever happen is that I’d lose him. As a little girl, I remember imagining what would happen if he died and I’d be gripped by the horrible  feeling of how unbearable life would be without him.  He was a two pack a day smoker and I was always afraid the cigarettes would make him sick, I had a gut feeling he was the one, not my mom,  who would suffer from the affects of smoking.  It turns out my intuition was spot on.  He began to get the symptoms of lung cancer during my senior year of high school.  He got sicker and sicker until he lost his battle at the very young age of 52.  And just as I had predicted, life was unbearable without him for a very long time.

There isn’t a day that has gone by since July 24th, 1982 that I don’t think of him. I was 18 when he died, and now, even though I’m now 50,  there are still times when I’m sad and deeply wish he was here with me.  I still need him when times get tough, or when I need some advice only he could give. I wish he were here to hug my children and witness them growing up and  see all I’ve accomplished in this life. I would have loved if he had the chance to have a meaningful relationship with my husband,  and it would have been so cool if  we were given the chance to watch each other grow older. How I would have loved more than anything to have him here with me through the past 30 years.

Dads.grave

To Dad- where ever you might be, I hope you still feel the warmth of the sunshine and are held close to God.  I know He’s got you right there with him-I pray He takes good care of you.  I miss you more than you can imagine   I will never forget you and I love you more than a thousand sunsets-even still.  —Emmy

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19 thoughts on “A little tribute to my father

  1. What a lovely letter to your father. I too remember the day back in 1982. What a great man your father was. Oh, and how he loved his little girl. I think you were too young to realize that every time you walked into the room your fathers beautiful blue eyes lite up. How lucky we all were to know him. I know that your father is watching you and very proud of what he sees.

  2. I loved Uncle Emil I remember that corner lot like it was yesterday. I miss our family terrible. Him and Dad, Uncle John were good men. Very well wrote and it made me think of my dad. Hope you had a good fathers day just the same. I know that day is always hard for me.

  3. I can still see your dad sitting at your kitchen table drinking coffee when we came over to visit when I was in town. He was always in a good mood & laughing. Pat & I always liked him. Made us laugh. Mom’s not so much. They were to busy bitching about work.

  4. Such a beautiful and amazing tribute to your father. I cried the first time I read it and now again. Believe in your heart he is there with you every step of the way Em. Like you said you were ‘daddy’s little girl’ so I know there is no way he would not be there with you in spirit. Love ya!

  5. I so love this post; today is my Dad’s birthday and Father’s Day! My Dad died when I was 18 in 1980; I can so relate to your words, the memories and the feeling of magic that only father’s could do!~ My Dad was funny, so full of life, he had an amazing spirit…maybe they were related, lol~! I find your blog on another blog and clicked it and here I am reliving my memories and seeing you know my pain and I know yours~
    Thanks for sharing….I have done similar posts, poems and shared some of my Dad’s magic! Thanks for sharing yours~xXx

  6. In one photo your father does look a bit like Sinatra. You and I are a year apart, my Dad died at 53 in 1987 so I had him longer than you had your father. At 18 you would have struggled losing a parent. My Dad was charismatic, and I adored him, but he could be a tyrant as well. And it’s true, knowing how much I was loved has carried me through my own life’s roughness.

  7. Beautiful Emily!! I can relate in that I lost my father when I was 16. He was diabetic and had a massive heart attack at the young age of 60. Miss him so much and like you I was daddy’s little girl. Everybody loved him and he could fix anything and had such a sense of humor. I feel so blessed to have had such loving and patient parents with all the children they had. I don’t know how they did it. Yes and wish that my children would have known him.

  8. Heart warming Em. who couldn’t or wouldn’t love you’re dad and your mom. these memories will never vanish from our minds and that’s what keeps us going.

  9. Lovely and so moving, Emily. Your father was born the same year as mine; I guess you and I must be roughly contemporaneous! He sounds as if he was a delightful man and a real character. I am sorry for your loss. x

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