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Posts Tagged ‘father’s day’

Today is Father’s Day. Usually that’s a time for celebrating and enjoying time with that special dad in your life. Since I was 15, it really hasn’t been that for me.  On May 31, 1999, my dad passed away. It was hard to cope as a teenager to the fact that your dad wasn’t around anymore. So usually on the special holidays (his birthday, the anniversary of his death and Father’s Day) I shut down.  I couldn’t even deal seeing the father’s day cards in the stores or the commercials on television. But today, I decided I’m going to celebrate Father’s Day in his memory because I know he’s proud of me.  So for this post, I want to share a special personal essay I wrote in college about a memory I have of my dad. I hope you enjoy! And, to you, Dad: I love you and miss you. Happy Father’s Day.

 

Baby me spending time with my daddy. 🙂

Skipping Stones
By: Melissa Wright

I can still hear the birds sing in my head. They sang a memorable tune as I stood at the same pond I had stood at eight years before. The place looked the same. There were more weeds and fewer purple wild flowers that I used to pick. And this time, I stood alone looking out at the water, randomly skipping stones, wishing I had the one person there that had left me two weeks before — my rock, my father.
My parents divorced when I was five years old. My father was a terrible alcoholic and my mother got sick of it. I spent some weekends and summer with my dad in his apartment in central New York. I grew up being a very shy girl, more so than I am now. There wasn’t a need to be social or have too many friends.
My dad was always concerned about that. He’d  say to me, “Melissa, you need to get out there and make new friends. You’re  a wonderful girl. You should be the life of the party.” I’d tell him I was fine with the small group of friends I had.  I never had a problem not being the social butterfly everyone else was.
He was also my biggest supporter when it came to my writing. No matter what I wanted to do, he always encouraged it. Every time I would bring home a story I wrote at school, he would have me read it to him. My dad would sit in his recliner and listen intently to every word, nodding his head every so often. He just wanted me to be happy and to accomplish my dreams.
One summer evening, my dad took me to a pond nearby his apartment. It wasn’t a long walk, just a half mile away. I remember taking my father’s hand and feeling secure as we walked over the rocky road. We stood at the pond in silence. My dad was always one for quiet reflection. He enjoyed his time of peace. At that time, he was a recovering alcoholic, still trying to find his way. I remember going off and picking those purple wild flowers while he meditated. I always had a feeling he liked to be alone during this time. I still think that must have been scary for him.
After he was through with his meditations, we would end up skipping stones on the water. I was never very good at it. My stones always landed with a plop and sunk into the water. My dad was good — better than good. He was the best. I never could get the hang of it and that’s why he reminded me about perseverance. There were people in our family who said my dad could never quit drinking alcohol. He could never stop. He proved them wrong. Sometimes, you just have to keep trying to get better at things.
I was fifteen when my father passed away, a young girl who was naive enough to never think anything bad could happen to her family. It was during the summer when I got the phone call from my older brother, telling me the unthinkable news. Who was going to spend my summers at the pond with me? Who was going to help me skip stones? I lost my dad that day, lost my rock, my support system. Images of our times at the pond and of my dad smiling at me flashed through my head. Yet, I was glad that I didn’t have to see him deteriorate into nothing.
My life changed from then on. I didn’t have my dad around anymore to support me. Yet, I changed. I began to do what my dad told me to do: to persevere; to not let my past determine who I am today. I broke out of my shell and got to know more people. A few days after his memorial service, I went back to that same pond, alone and older. Things had changed, but the pond was still the same: there were the same flowers and the water still sparkled. I grabbed a stone and threw it out into the water, smiling when it skipped a few times and then sank slowly into the water. I was finally starting to get it. I knew my dad would have been proud of me, for not only learning out to skip stones after so many years of trying, but also for learning to  let go of the past, for learning to let go of things I can’t really change. I can’t bring my dad back not matter how much I want to. It was a bittersweet moment. I knew for my own sake that it was my way of saying goodbye.
I still think of my dad and our summer evenings at the pond where life was carefree and innocent. Sometimes, I want those days back. But, I have them in my heart, where the birds still sing and the little purple wild flowers grow. Any time I feel down, there’s just one thing I know to do. I skip stones.

 

 

 

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Today, well, yesterday by the time I publish this post, was father’s day. Usually, it’s a time when you give your dad the usual Hallmark greeting card and some kind of gift like a tie….or some tools…whatever the department stores are telling you to buy.  I remember as a little girl, I would make my dad’s father’s day cards.  Honestly, I’m no artist nor will I ever claim to be, but my dad was always so happy with my handmade, colored marker filled, construction paper cards.

My dad was one of my biggest supporters. He always believed in my writing dreams. He knew that if I wanted to be a successful writer, it was going to happen. My dad encouraged me to work hard and never give up.  Of course, my mom always agreed (which was odd because after they divorced when I was 4 years old, they were hardly on the same page ever..).  That was something they could always agree on. They both loved me and my brother unconditionally and made a lot of sacrifices so we could accomplish our dreams.

I’m sitting here right now in front of my computer, trying to choose just one favorite memory I have with my dad. There are many since I was quite the “Daddy’s Girl” growing up.  I do think a favorite would be going to his apartment on the weekends and bringing the short story I wrote that week in school. He’ d be so excited to hear what I had written. He would sit in his recliner and let me read the story to him.  Let’s remember here, I was a kid. What I was writing wasn’t Hemingway or Faulkner. It was just a kid in elementary school writing stories about her cat, friends, and one time, a story about Kindergarten class’ pet rabbit.  Her name was Fredericka (I didn’t come up with the name, so don’t look at me), and guess what that story was called? If you guessed “Fredericka”, give yourselves a pat on the back! You won! Yes, all you get is a pat on the back. Sorry. 🙂

Back to my memory. No matter how tired my dad was at the end of a long work day (he was a meat cutter which is a completely disgusting  job, but hey, if that’s what you do, I respect you), my dad would always be a very attentive listener. He would have me show my “illustrations” and ask what brought me to write that story.  That interest in my writing continued for years. When my mom moved me and my little brother to Missouri, he would call us every Sunday and ask if I was writing anything and what it was about. He knew how important it was to be supportive.

All that ended on May 31st, 1999. That was the day my dad passed away from pneumonia.  He had become sober from alcohol for two years before he died. Of course, his many years of being an alcoholic took its toll on his body and he got sick.  I was still in Missouri, so I never really got to say goodbye. I think that’s one of the hardest things I still have to deal with. The unanswered questions.  Losing someone who always believed in me.

I miss the phone calls. I miss those days when I would bring him what I was working on and read it to him. There is a lot I miss about my dad. I would give a lot to have it all back, to just hear his voice one more time. I would love to tell him about the novel I’m working on. I think he’d be proud of me.

It’s been eleven years since he passed away. There are some days where I don’t think about him as much, but on father’s day, I think about him all day. So, this post is dedicated to my dad, William. I’m still going to achieve my dreams, not only for myself, but for him as well.  His belief in me still holds true to this day. I’m not going to forget that.

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