Wednesday, July 07, 2010

A Wednesday Wahoo! and a little tribute

This fellow is a Colorado hummingbird. Colorado is seriously overflowing with an unfair quantity of wahoos. Except, it's also a great place to get a nosebleed, so we'll forgive them for hogging the pretties.

Today was a day that I planned to pay tribute to my father but in the fashion of the studied airhead, I managed to set up a book tour and didn't bother to dig for a photo so the hummingbird and a slightly late tribute will have to suffice. Most of the photos are in my sister's house, anyway. It would have been a stretch. But, I have to make note of today, the 20th anniversary of my father's death. I had a super cool dad. My biggest fear, after his unexpected death, was that I'd forget him -- his face, his laugh, his effervescence. He was the most deliberately joyful person I've ever met.

I haven't forgotten a thing. And, I haven't stopped missing him. He and his father were avid amateur photographers and I know he would have loved that hummingbird photo. He would have loved my youngest son, whom he never met. Truly, he just loved everyone. When he died, my friends told me they adored him because he was so welcoming and they loved the way he banged in and out of the house, whistling.

I was cooling down after a run around the high school track in my hometown, just after my father died when a total stranger struck up a conversation with me. They're really friendly in my hometown. The man told me about a time he was late for lunch at Wendy's and his wife was stuck waiting because he had the money and she had none. My father observed her distress and offered to buy her lunch. She declined, but apparently Dad's spontaneous generosity deeply touched that man. That's the kind of guy my father was.

My dad was also an avid reader. He loved history and thrillers. We shared a love of Dave Barry. For some reason I'll never understand, my mother thought I was going to imitate my greedy uncle (who had stripped my grandmother's house of many of her valuables in the middle of the night, after her death) so she told me, "Don't take anything!" after the funeral. I stole my dad's copy of The Hunt for Red October because my soul was so wounded at his death that I had to take something home -- just some small token of the dad I loved. Everyone in the house has read it but me. Maybe it's just too precious; I don't know. I figured it was one low-value item my mother wouldn't miss and she didn't, although she recognized it when she came for a visit and saw it on my shelf. I told her it was his and she just nodded. By then, she was over the sharp pain of new widowhood.

He would have been 82 if he'd lived. My parents struggled to conceive, so my father was an "older" parent by Sixties standards. By today's standards, he'd probably have been considered reasonably young. He always looked 10 years younger than he was, so nobody knew the difference. We had a lot of doddering old relatives when I was young and I mistakenly assumed that my father would live to a ripe, old age. I was looking forward to watching him turn old and gray.

My dad loved to travel. He was a Navy corpsman during the final weeks of WWII in the Pacific and then was called up, again, during the Korean War. My parents met when he narrated a slide show of his war photos at church in Lincoln, Nebraska and she went up to ask him a few questions, after he finished. They were kind of goofy lovebirds till he died; they took long walks together and held hands. He would sneak up behind her in the kitchen and wrap his arms around her, which always made my mother jump. He left a horrible empty space in her life.

Estes Park, Colorado was his favorite place on the planet, so a Colorado hummingbird seems apropos for this tribute.

I miss you, Dad. You were my hero. You still are.



  1. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute, Nancy.

  2. Thank you, Nymeth. :)

  3. Thanks for sharing a little bit about your dad with us, Nancy. It sounds like he was a wonderful man, husband and father and I know how much you miss him. Hugs to you, dear friend.

    Love, Les

  4. What a lovely post and what a gorgeous photo. Your dad sounds like he was such a special man.

  5. What a beautiful tribute to your Dad. We never stop missing them, do we? Lovely post that made me think about my own hero this morning!

  6. That is a very moving tribute. :) I look forward to each blog you post same goes for pictures. Thank you! I need to call my dad in a little bit cause it is his birthday today.

  7. Les, Kathy, Robin and Krista,

    Thanks to all of you! He was definitely a wonderful father, husband and just an all-around good guy, in general. :)

    Les, thanks for the hugs. I didn't expect to have tears streaming down my face while I wrote my little tribute!!

    Krista, do call your father. Enjoy him while he's still around.

  8. Beautiful tribute to your dad, Nancy. I absolutely loved it, and it made me teary. Reminded me of my grandfather because he was sort of a stand in for my dad. I felt and did some of the same things after he died.

  9. Andi,

    Thanks. Tears were streaming down my face while I wrote that, which was unexpected, really. I just thought I'd write about him and it wouldn't be any big deal after 20 years, but no. I still miss him just as much as I did in 1990. So glad you had a grandfather to stand in for your dad. There's no substitute for having a wise and gentle man in your life, when you're growing up. *HUGS*

  10. I love that you took your Dad's copy of Hunt for Red October. Good for you.

    Twenty years? Oh man, I'm ticking off the months now, I'll be counting down the years.....I cannot imagine years without my Dad. Happy? You made me cry. With you.

  11. Oh, Carrie, I'm so sorry. You know I'd never deliberately make you cry. Those first months are just agony, I know. A world without a great father is totally off-balance.

    Someday, I will talk myself into reading The Hunt for Red October. Thanks. It was ridiculously important to me NOT to leave that house with something, anything. I probably would have been happy with a pair of his socks. LOL

  12. Nancy,

    My dad was born on St. Patrick's Day. After he retired he moved to Jackson, CA. In Jackson St. Patrick's Day is also Dandelion Day. Yeah, I know, a weed but to some a weed is a hummingbird.

    Our family would gather from miles to celebrate his birthday, corned beef and cabbage, and wander the festivities in the old Gold Rush town. One year my daughter got a nose piercing. Oh wait, that's another story...

    Dad wore a green fishing hat and each birthday someone added a new St. Patrick's pin to the brimmed non-descript hat.

    The hat was the only item I wanted when my dad died. It was so him.

    Thanks Nancy for touching our hearts and drawing us together in our memories - old and new - but never forgotten.


  13. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad. Thank you for sharing it with us.

  14. Cindi,

    It's funny how the little things are most important to us, isn't it? Did you get that fishing hat? It sounds like a true keepsake. I've got a couple of my father's University of Nebraska magnets on my fridge. They're cheap and tacky, but they were still on Mom's freezer when she died and, again, just something small that meant something.

    The nose ring comment made me laugh out loud.

    Thanks for sharing your story. I love your stories. But, you already knew that. :)


    Thank you. All day long, it was all I could think about. Twenty years seems like such a long time and yet I can see him in my mind like he was here yesterday.

  15. Such a beautiful post :) He sounds like a really wonderful man. Thank you for sharing this post, I loved reading it...

  16. Birdy,

    Thank you so much. He was awesome. :)

  17. This was so very, very wonderful.

  18. Thank you, Nan. :)

  19. Such a nice post -- and thanks for sharing thoughts about your dad with us. We've been living in CO for two years now, and still have not visited Estes Park. We keep hearing how wonderful it is. Maybe before the kids go back to school -- but the first day is only a month away, so I don't know.

  20. Valerie,

    Thank you. Definitely go to Estes Park, you lucky devil. The town is quite a little tourist trap, but pretty and fun. The best places are up in the Rocky Mountain National Park, where you can find hiking trails for all levels and down in the Big Thompson Canyon. We used to stay in a particular set of cabins when the original owners were still there, in the 70s. I was pleased to see that the cabins have retained their original name. The Big Thompson is also a great place to fish for rainbow trout (or, at least, it used to be -- we didn't go fishing, so I can't say if it's the same) and it's fabulous for rock hounds.

    It wasn't overly crowded when we were there. I suspect the recession has lightened things up a bit. You can probably find a decent place to stay before school begins.

  21. Oh I love this post. My dad died in 1998 when I was 17 and he was 50. I still miss him, his laugh, his humor, his music, and he was a Hunt for the Red October fan too. I swear I watched that movie with him ten times. Thank you for this post. My dad was born and raised in Colorado and hiked many of the Fourteeners there and I just revisited Estes Park a few weeks ago.

  22. Amanda,

    I'm sorry you lost your dad so young. He sounds a lot like my dad! Very cool! My dad was from Nebraska, but he started traveling to Estes Park on vacation when he was 9 years old and we still have relatives who have cabins in the canyon (in Drake). I wish I knew them better, so I could find an excuse to visit! LOL So neat that you were just in Estes Park! We were there on our last day of vacation. Tomorrow's post will have a couple photos taken on Trail Ridge Road.

    I'm pretty sure my dad didn't live to see the movie version of The Hunt for Red October. He would have loved it. We watched movies together, too. He was really proud of his HBO and used to tape movies for me, when I was too broke to pay for cable or rent movies. I had a terrible time throwing those VHS tapes away because they were labeled in his handwriting. I loved his handwriting.

  23. Yes, Nancy, I got the fishing hat with all the little shamrocks and Irish trimmings. No pot of gold, though. Must have gone with the fish that got away.

    Now that nose ring. That was not funny! Took my mothering skills to a higher level.

    Cynthia AKa Cindi

  24. Cindi,

    I'm glad you got that hat. Sorry it didn't have a pot of gold tucked inside. I'll bet the leprechauns took it.

    As to Erin's nose piercing . . . seriously, you must tell me about that, sometime. Maybe in a letter? Daniel threatened all sorts of things like piercings and tattoos and hair coloring, but in the end he gave in to his stodgy, conservative parents.

  25. I loved your tribute to your dad. I think I loved comment about worrying that you would forget him the most. My dad passed away two weeks ago today and that is my biggest fear, that I will forget him!! That his voice will fade, that my memories will dim. Thank you for reminding me that I can keep them alive!

    What an honor you paid to your dad. Thank you for sharing.

  26. Inside a Book,

    I'm so sorry for your loss. It's heartbreaking losing a cherished father. I can set your mind at ease about that fear of forgetting him, though, for sure. It's probably a common worry that you'll forget someone, but I've found that those memories don't fade at all. In fact, I had a friend who died in high school and I still remember his cheesy grin on the last day I saw him, tilting back his chair and talking about how much he was looking forward to wrestling camp. In the same way, I still "see" my dad, hear him laughing and whistling. The important images, I think you'll find, are seared in your memory -- even if recent events have you shaken up and feeling as if you can't remember a thing.

    Lots of love and hugs to you. You will get through this horrible time.

  27. I just had to come back and say that your reply to Inside a Book was one of the most beautiful and tender things I've read in a long time. You're a kind soul, Nancy.

    Love, Les

  28. Les,

    Why, thank you.

    Love right back at ya!


  29. Aw, Nancy, this is just so sweet. Sending you a hug. I was especially missing my dad the other day and I am so glad I caught up on my blog reading to see this. It's been 9 years since I lost my dad and I can still hear his voice and picture him but every once in a while I have this panic that all of a sudden I'll forget. You hear so often of people who do forget and it's so comforting to hear that your memories of your dad are still very much with you.

    To Inside a Book - A hug to you as well.

  30. Iliana,

    Thank you. :) I'm sorry you've also lost your father. It must be really common to panic about forgetting someone after they die because I've heard that concern quite a bit, although I've never personally met anyone who was distressed because they actually have forgotten a loved one.

    Thanks for the hug. Hugs to you, too! I'm glad you happened to drop by just after you were missing your own dad. It's comforting to know others have those days, isn't it?


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