Thursday, September 11, 2008


Well, the last few days have been really hard for us. Mom is now gone to Mexico and I have been feeling very alone. It is amazing how alone you can feel when a beloved parent disappears off the horizon. I really don't know how to chart the waters without Dad. Scott had an especially hard day today, with every moment full of Dad memories and a longing for his presence.

Today was also a special blessing because Lauren's baby, Caleb Benjamin, has arrived - and both are alive and healthy! I was in a blind panic - the kind you get suddenly whenever someone close to you has just died - waiting for news. I don't know what I would have done if something happened to Lauren. Thank you God.

I am not ready to talk about my father in past tense - I may never be. So here are a few things you might like to know about him. These are some of my favorites, today, to celebrate him two days before the horrid one month mark, and on 9/11 (now and forevermore to be known as The Day of New Life).

***Dad likes birds. Of course he is obsessively in love with loons. But he also likes other birds, large and small. He is always on the lookout for an eagle or an eagle's nest. He can name different hawks, knows the difference between a hawk and a buzzard, and knows the calls and natures of the Chickadee, Nuthatch, Blue Jay, Tufted Titmouse, American Robin, Cormorant, Red-Winged Blackbird, and Common Grackle, among others. Woodpeckers seem to always appear for him, especially at Bass Lake. Dad spots animals in the field as you drive along the highway - wild turkeys, deer, a fox, and the ever elusive moose. He is always looking for the infamous New Hampshire moose (and don't even bother arguing this, Hampsters - they barely exist).

Dad likes beer in cans: Coors Light, Miller Light, or Miller Genuine Draft. He loves salted mixed nuts, but likes sugar-coated walnuts or pecans even more. He has a wicked sweet tooth, and the older he gets, the more he is seen sneaking chocolate or cinnamon-sticky goodies into the house. He likes sandwich cookies, and always takes six, carrying them in a perfect stack in one hand. Oreos are a big hit.

Dad whistles in the car. He also has been known to break into song at the top of his lungs (particularly with the song "Maria" from West Side Story), with arms held out wide. "Blue Moon" seemed to be the soundtrack through my childhood, and he would change the words as he liked on the particular day...usually starting with, "Big Al, I saw you standing alone." He and mom often sit in the car in the garage if a good song is playing when they arrive home, to listen to the end. He had the big-time hots for Wonder Woman (a "You Go Girl" shout out to Linda Carter). He also thought Angelina was hot, but please, what guy didn't? (I never agreed with that one.)

Dad likes to give motivational speeches, and advice a-plenty. He likes to teach - God forbid you ask him about something he really knows (like insurance, marketing, motivation, positive thinking, fishing, loons, nature, history, science, et al). You are in for a long sit and you might as well settle in with a cold drink. When he smoked (which he did for over 50 years), he would sit on the back porch and drink his coffee, smoke, and watch the birds in the morning. He might take a tablet and pen and write some thoughts to organize his day. Lauren reminded me he used to put inspirational phrases to himself on his screen saver, like, "Just write one chapter this week, Larry - the book is pretty good!"

Though he is a major motivator, encourager, and mentor (apparently, to many, as the sympathy cards and emails attest), he could be seriously grumpy and cranky and depressed. Years of his life were cloaked in depression, until he finally, FINALLY tried some anti-depressants. And then he/we recovered his lovely inner self. He liked to go to The Pub at this time and tell the crotchety old fishermen and underemployed construction workers to try anti-depressants. "It'll change your life; it did mine," he would say. Quite humorous really.

He is a big-time fisherman and is quite good at it. For no reason I can uncover, the rest of us never learned to drive the damn boat, and so now it will probably be sold. Mom says we don't know how to drive it because Dad never let anyone drive it. Ahem. He also never let me mow the lawn (what?) and now I don't know how. Ridiculous. Well, once he let me try the riding lawnmower in Pennsylvania, but I near ran it into the shed because I didn't know how to stop or turn it. Dear god. So that was the end of that.

Dad is a very good writer and has completed one book of fishing/life memoirs and one book on loon species and his love of loons (that's what Scott says it's about b/c he laid out the book, spending countless hours with it). Dad has a 100% article submission-to-publication rate, which he is very proud of. (To us writers, that's an incredible statistic.) He has written many articles for newspapers, magazines, online publications, and countless insurance newsletters. He never minded ghost writing for Presidents and Vice-Presidents of his insurance companies. But he also went on to publish many things under his own name.***

Dad is woven through me in so many ways. We have a practically matching personality, same level of inner angst, unfortunate temperamental digestive system, ability to sympathize and empathize, desire to help others in need (particularly in the local community - Dad always said, "Charity starts at home and goes outward from there"), mushy sentimentality and propensity for getting choked up to tears at family events, and the same crazed, impulsive energy, to be shortly followed by a desire for blob-like inactivity. We both like to read, to learn continually, to share holidays with as much family as possible, to hide at times, to keep things in, and to let things out by writing them.

I miss him terribly. He is and was a good, good man. He has always been a perfect father. He constantly yelled, "Who's the greatest Dad you ever had?!?" You are. Love you Daddy.


Kristin H. said...

Oh Ally girl, I'm glad you got that all down in writing. I'm grateful to hear it and I have been wanting to know more about him. Please keep the memories coming. I am eager to hear all you have to share.

You are loved.

Addicted Rantings said...

I’m new to your blog, so I guess this is going to sound weird coming from someone you never heard of before, but I’m sorry about your dad, and I hope Tip (dog) is doing ok.

Marie said...

Wonderful piece of writing about your much loved dad, Ally. We like to believe that the spirit world is all around us and so your dad is not really very far from you at all. He's all around you and loving you still, and always will. Families are forever.