The First Man in My Life

I am my father’s daughter, and it’s one of my most honored distinctions.

It is utterly insane to me that I only knew him for two-thirds of my life. He passed away extremely unexpectedly in July, 2001 when I was nineteen and my brother was fifteen. He had been on a two week trip to the Northern Tier in Canada with my brother and his Boy Scout troop. On the last night before returning home, his heart failed and he was gone.

I’ve lived the last ten years without seeing his face or hearing his voice. Happily, my parents invested in a video camera when my brother was born in 1985 so now we can just watch the videos and remember his voice and the way he walked, but yeah, videos. Meh. Very little consolation there.

I want to articulate my love for him so thoughtfully and poetically, in a way that does him profound honor. I don’t know if I ever will be able to do that to the extent that I feel justifies how fatherly and strong and mine he was. Let me just say that I miss him so, so much.

He was sweet and good. I never fully recognized his sincerity when I was growing up. I tended to see it as adult proselytizing, which it was to an extent. As I’m about to become a parent myself, I see now that you invest absolutely everything you have into the delicate process of giving your child the best. It is Love with a capital L. My dad lived that Love.

He was a mess. Like, a real mess. Major ADHD back when you didn’t do anything really constructive to help it. My mom, who is much much more aware of the realities of the way the mind works, reined him in and gave him some focus. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. I think he knew that.

He apparently was a pseudo-hippy. He grew his hair out for no apparent reason when he was in college. That was the extent of his hippy-hood. By that I mean he was a lovable dork.

He was awkwardly sweet and fidgety. He was constantly moving. There is this one picture of him and my cousin when she was a toddler. It’s at a family event and I can tell by the tentative restraint in his gesture that it’s all he can do to not to completely monopolize her. He loved babies. *Sigh.*

My mom was the only woman he ever loved and he was the only man she ever loved. They needed each other. When I was growing up, there was always complete security between them. Their balance was seamless.

Happy birthday to my sweet dad. You’re the one.


  1. This is so precious and sweet. Your dad would be, and *is*, so proud of you. I know it. I miss him too.

    1. We are both extremely blessed to have truly wonderful daddies :)

  2. Nice post. I lost my father when I was 8. My mom remarried but it was always tough growing up without my real dad.

    1. It sure is. Good men are hard to find, and good dads are treasures. Your kids are lucky to have a witty, attentive father ;)

  3. Though I am not so unfortunate, I can feel your words… As you said, to understand our parents we ourselves should get into their shoes…

    1. That is so true. Even though I’m not a bona fide parent yet, I appreciate my parents more and more as Bebe develops!

  4. Emily, this is beautiful… “Their balance was seamless “, I don’t ever want to forget those words…

    1. Thank you. I really wish you had met him, but then again there’s a lot of him in Ben ;)

  5. Everything about that post was perfect.

  6. mommysaidaswearword · · Reply

    beautiful post. truly. made me teary.

    1. Thank you. I hope they were good tears ;,)

    That’s my New Year gift for you, dear friend! :) Do check it out.

    1. Thank you! I really appreciate it! This was a happy way to start a not-so-fun day for me :)

  8. […] The First Man in My Life 1.4.12 […]

  9. What a beautiful post.

  10. Reblogged this on The Waiting and commented:

    I’m doing a rerun today in honor of my dad. Happy Father’s Day to all the amazing dads out there, including my sweet husband.

  11. Such a beautiful tribute to a wonderful father. No doubt he’s smiling down on you, pleased with all you’ve become, loving you every step of the way. It’s a real blessing to have had a wonderful father, even for that short time.
    Thanks for sharing, Emily. Very sweet.

    1. Thanks, Lisa! My mom and I were at lunch yesterday and she shared a TON of awesome stories about him as a kid that I had never heard before. I can’t wait to blog about them. I don’t think he’ll be too mad :)

    2. I’m reading my moms response after I wrote mine…and it’s like the exact same.

      1. That’s because this apple didn’t fall far from the tree : )

        1. LOL I was about to say the exact same thing!

  12. Dear Waiting,
    I couldn’t help but get teary over your tribute to your Dad.
    I was thinking of mine so much this week, too.
    I hope you don’t mind, I’m pasting a link to the homage I tried to pay my Dad this week. I think it’s so important to remember write..and remember some more. Writing actually seems to dredge up more wonderful memories..ones I didn’t even knew I had. ;)

    1. Thank you for your sweet comment! I totally agree; writing is so cathartic and helps us remember the things that would have been locked in our minds had we not written about them.

  13. Thank you for sharing this again. It’s xtra meaningfull today !

    1. I agree! Love my dad!

  14. T Pate · · Reply

    I’ll be thinking of more “Ed” stories. His adventures were dear and harmless. He was SO cute!

    1. He was indeed a special person. I’m going to write something about all his misadventures as a kid. Too priceless not to share!

  15. I send hugs. No one should have to go through losing their parents.

    1. Awww, thanks :) He was indeed a good one.

  16. What a touching look back on the man who helped shaped the person you became. He would be so proud and flattered by everything you’ve said here.

    Loved this.

    1. Thank you! He always encouraged me to write. He also encouraged me to go camping and drive a stick shift. At least the writing thing stuck.

  17. What a nice sentiment! You did him proud! He’s definitely smiling down on you and your family! Happy Father’s Day to him!

    1. Thanks! I like to think he knows about this blog post. Hopefully he doesn’t know about the ones detailing me drinking and going on bad dates ;)

  18. I often think about how my daughter will remember me when she’s an adult, expressing her own opinions. Will I be worthy of a blog post? If so, will it be in a positive way? If so, what will she remember about me, about our relationship, and how will she express it.

    There’s nothing like having a daughter to bring every insecurity you never knew you had to the surface. It’s the fear of *NOT* doing right by her that drives me on day after day. I only hope that at the end of the day, when her head is on her pillow and she’s drifting off to sleep, she has the very slightest inkling of how desperately I love her.


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