Birth and Death

We understand death for the first time when he puts his hand upon one whom we love. ~Madame de Stael, French-Swiss author

Those fortunate enough to have both their parents living can’t know how difficult life can be without them.

Nobody ever told me how many problems there are that perplex, problems a deceased parent certainly would have known the answers to.

Take the other night, for instance.

Earlier that day, I changed some AAA batteries and causally dropped the spent ones — four of them — into the trash can.

I didn’t think a thing about it…until I shot awake about one o’clock in the morning, convinced the entire lot was conspiring to ignite and burn the house down while I was asleep!

I spent much valuable time pondering what to do to prevent a fire. Should I put the used batteries in a plastic bag? Should I find an inflammable container and put them inside?

Finally, I got up, fished all four out of the trash, and laid them on the counter, far apart from one another so they’d have to play nice.

And then I went back to bed. Not to sleep, mind you, because who can sleep when they’re worried about waking up to a house full of flames and smoke?

Then it dawned on me. My late dad would have known what to do. And if he hadn’t, he’d have pointed me in the right direction so I could find out for myself. And then he’d have insisted I share what I learned with him.

When cancer stole my dad seven years ago, it took away my source of information. Business, landscaping, philosophy, finance — my dad knew all that. He could identify a million bugs, birds, trees, flowers, rocks. He knew when and how to prune the roses and what kind of fertilizer they needed; whether my clients would balk if I raised my rates; where the moon was in its cyclical dance across the sky.

My dad spent a lot of time studying. For him, education wasn’t a chore; it was a source of unending knowledge. He reworked algebra problems, read the dictionary, and played many hands of bridge. He perfected games like checkers, chess, and ping-pong; he was an avid reader of biographies.

And every Christmas or birthday, when asked what he wanted, he had the same answer — “Nothing. Just a card and maybe something you’ve written for me.”

That sounds too easy, Daddy, but here it is — love and miss you bunches!

P.S. Today would have been my dad’s birthday.

23 thoughts on “Birth and Death

  1. Those people you love so deeply will be with you FOREVER and EVER. I believe we incorporate their loss into our new lives, but their presence NEVER goes away. I think of my sister every. single. day.

    Happy Birthday to your daddy in heaven. xxxx

  2. I would have liked your dad: a lot, partly because he reminds me of my dad. I like this: “For him, education wasn’t a chore; it was a source of unending knowledge.” It’s funny — the older I get, the more I appreciate that quality in my own dad, and the more I see it in myself.

    What even more intriguing is that, as the years pass, I seem to understand him more. I wish we could have a little more time, just so we could share some things I know he’d enjoy. On the other hand, there are times I’m sure he’s right here, enjoying them along with me. Happy birthday to your dad, who surely watches over you, too.

    • What a lovely thing to say, Linda — thank you! You know, Daddy wasn’t much of a student when he was young. Only with some maturity did he realize the importance of an education, and he was insistent that we kids appreciate our own educations.

      Like you, I wish we’d had more time together. There are so many things I still want to run by him! But I do feel his presence and when I can calm myself into that still, small place of peace, I know he’s watching from Heaven…and hopefully, smiling!

  3. Well you know I can relate! I find birthdays are the hardest, not the day he passed. My father, too, was a very educated man. He had a thirst for knowledge. But they taught us well, Debbie. Happy birthday to him. xx

  4. Debbie what a beautiful and touching tribute to your father! It brought tears to my eyes because as I was reading your words, it made me think of my own parents (who have both passed), and how I will sometimes (especially around Christmas) miss them dearly. But as one of your readers shared, the people we love will be with us forever and ever. Their presence never goes away. Perhaps that’s why we feel so emotional when we think of them, because they are still so close.

    “For him, education wasn’t a chore; it was a source of unending knowledge. ”

    Love his attitude. And he was so right!

    Thanks so much for sharing this today, my friend. And know that your father is still with you.

    (((((((((((((( You ))))))))))))


    • Ron, thank you for your kind words — they’re much appreciated! Perhaps one of the harder things in losing a parent is the feeling that you’re left on a precipice, just on the edge of slipping off. You no longer have that “safety net” of wisdom and experience that the older generation was able to impart.

      You know, Daddy never claimed to be “educated.” Sure, he had a college degree, but he tended to feel his learning after school was more satisfying and productive than any book learning he did in school. That’s not such a bad thing, is it? I mean, there’s only so much learning a person can do in four years of college!

      I do feel his presence…often. And I know he’s in a better place!

      Happy rest of the week, my friend! xoxoxo

    • I agree, FF. Nobody should leave and not be missed! But parents take a virtual blank slate and mold and shape it to where it can exist on its own, and I imagine there’s always going to be a special place in our hearts for someone who does that for us.

  5. My dad would have liked your dad. Maybe they’re up there comparing gardening tips or financial strategies. I’m sorry he had to go before his time…but for sure he’s right there with you. And John W above is right. Your dad is indeed pleased with his gift.

    • Dawn, what a sweet comment — thank you! I know you understand how tough it is, losing a dad too early. And I do hope our dads have become friends — nice to think maybe they had a hand in introducing us!!

  6. I guess we’ll always miss our dads, no matter how long they’ve been gone, right Debbie?

    Your dad sounds like such a great guy. You’re blessed to have such wonderful memories of him, even if he did cause you to lose sleep over the batteries! 😉

    • Absolutely correct, Tee! The father-daughter bond is very special indeed, and I know how fortunate I am that he was my dad. As for losing sleep, well, yeah, there’s that!

  7. Oh – so poignant. I am one of those fortunate souls who still enjoys and coddles (at this age) both my parents. Just spent a week with them in Arizona. They’re 84 years old and have been married 61 years. I’m so grateful for them and dread the hole there will be in my life when they pass. I love that you expressed love and wrote a little note to your Dad for his birthday. We’re never to old to cherish something from our kids.

    • Isn’t that the truth? I still have things Domer wrote for me, and I know my dad saved stuff I wrote him. You’re wise to cherish your folks while you have them, Barb. Sixty-one years of marriage is quite an accomplishment — good for them! (Good for you “kids,” too!)

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