Love Never Lost


I was at a cat show this weekend.  It’s a long story, and involves my eleven year old cat, Frida, who also modeled for Harry Winston.  I kid you not.  She loved the attention, the petting, the fussing over her – and, as vain as all cats, she enjoyed the necklace.  This photo was in the catalog for Harry Winston for that year, and I had obtained a copy of it for myself.  No, I didn’t make any money for the sitting.  I hadn’t expected to.  It was a favor for a friend, and I was tickled to see her wearing a quarter of a million dollars worth of diamonds.  Apparently, she enjoyed everyone.

I brought the catalog with me to the show.  My dear friend who gave me Frida (for the sum of $1) was there, and I wanted her to see it. 

The catalog had a pocket in the back cover.  I found a folded piece of paper there.  I took it out, unfolded it, and saw my father’s handwriting:

Dear Diana,

It’s been a rough time for you, I know, and I’m sending you a little something to help you along.  There is more where that came from, as you know, and you only need to ask.

Your mother and I are proud of you.

Love,

Dad 

I had to turn away, a hand to my eyes.  I had not expected to find that. I remembered that terrible time, the economy at a halt, layoffs, no one hiring…  I remembered a lot of things.  Sternness when necessary, always there, always reliable.  Strike him as I might, he always rang true.  Perhaps the best gift I ever received.

I was remembering him just now, listening to this song:

The words to the second verse always speak to me:

          If heaven was a town, it would be my town
          Oh – on a summer day in 1985
          And everything I wanted was out there waitin’
          And everyone I loved was still alive

I thought of them as I folded the note and put it back in the pocket.  Often, what was never dies, but still is…



We always loved fireflies

Father’s Day,June 15, 2014


Someone commented once that my stories, no matter where set, or when, have a feature or theme in common: good fathers.

It is true, I think, mulling things over.  I have men who are good fathers, characters who were blessed with good fathers, characters who had men step in and serve as fathers to them…

It is not surprising.  I was blessed with the finest father anyone could hope for.  He was a very good man, and one of those rare people who remembered how it was to be a child.  We would go for drives on Sunday afternoons, and he would tell us kids to look for bears.  Once he bought some Native American arrowheads and ‘salted’ them in a place where he planned to take us.  We were too oblivious to notice them.

He would tuck us in to bed (Mom did, too) and tell us ‘Make up stories’, which were the absolute best.

He was unflinching in his honesty.  The ‘Right Thing To Do’ was what had to be done.  And he did not blink it, even as he understood and sympathized with his children when we found it hard.  I never in my life doubted that he and Mom were on my side, that I could always go to them when I was in trouble, and that while they would speak their mind, they would never stop loving me.

Years ago, Dad discovered computers.  He was a very bright man, but computers were mysterious and fascinating.  Maybe this was because he was in the first wave of radar officers in the U.S. Navy in WW II.  His talk of them bored me to death…for a while. 

I remember he phoned me once to go on and on (and on) about Ram and Megabytes and such, and I sat back, phone to ear, and rolled my eyes.

…and then it occurred to me, with the force of someone jabbing me in the ribs: there will come a day when you would give almost anything to have him beating your eardrums about computers.

I listened to the voice, and it was right.

Dad died two years ago this August.  He went quickly, and his passing was guided by  his own instructions, written and notarized.  No difficult decision was left to us.  No lingering doubts or regrets.  He was buried at Arlington National Cemetery (for those non-US readers, it is the cemetery for veterans – and Dad was one).
 
Not a day goes by that does not bring with it some reason to remember him and thank God that he was my father.  He is in good part a reason that I took the path I did.

As he was, so are other fathers, and I salute them this day.  It is a tough job but a crucial one.  I wish all can be as blessed as I was, and can bless their children as Dad did his.

Happy Father’s day!