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How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again

August 26, 2009 | Family

No, I didn’t dance with him that night. It was my prom. He was there to send me off into the night and there when I got back. He was always there. Until three years later, when he left forever.

I often forget that my memories are different from others, especially my youngest brother, who was 6 when Dad died. He’s the one who looks most like Dad, and he knew him the least. How unfair. Yet … it’s unfair and life-defining, no matter the age.

It’s been 25 years since Dad died. A generation. A silver anniversary. Weddings. Births. Graduations. Illnesses. Deaths. Moves. Vacations. Jobs. Retirements.

I’m two years away from the age he was when he died. My son is 6.

I used to see him in my dreams. Now I see him in others. Something in the way my son squints his eyes. The way my husband puts his hands on his hips and takes in a project he’s just completed. (Of course they’re not related. But they have things in common. They would have enjoyed each other a lot. Without either one of them saying much of anything.) A chuckle. A word. The lines in my face.

Once, when I was old enough to drive, I promised to take some friends to a basketball game one night. It was storming, and Dad wouldn’t let me drive. That didn’t mean we missed the game; I just didn’t get to drive. Dad took us. I was mortified, in the way only an eye-rolling 16-year-old could be. He let me be mad. He never raised his voice. (Oh, WHY didn’t I inherit that trait from him?) He picked up each one of my friends, drove us through the night, dropped us off and sat through the entire game in the car in the parking lot. He was at the curb when the game was over, and he took us all home.

He was always there.

Another time, my parents visited me in Nebraska. I worked in a data-processing center (yes, back in the days of punch cards), starting each day at 7 a.m. I was poor. I had roommates. I didn’t have a car. I stood in the frigid cold, waiting for the bus at o’ dark thirty in the morning, freezing my butt off. When Dad was there, he got up every morning in the dark, went outside, started his car and let it warm up. He drove me to and from work in that toasty car every day.

He was always there.

Until just a few months later. Then he was gone.

It’s 25 years since then, and so much has changed. Except one thing. I miss the comfort of knowing Dad was always there.




Thanks to Matthew at Child’s Play x2 and his brother, Ben, at Babbling Dad for inspiring me to write about my dad.

Posted by Becky @ 6:00 am  

17 Responses to “How I’d love, love, love to dance with my father again”

  1. Matthew Says:

    I was 6 when my father died and you’re right, it wouldn’t have mattered how old I was, it still would have been a life-altering experience.

    *Hugs* to you on this day, Becky. Your Dad seemed like a wonderful man.

  2. Kristine Says:

    Beautiful and moving, thanks for sharing your memories.

  3. Amy Says:

    This touches home with the recent loss of my mother. It’s good to know we will always have our memories to remember them by..

  4. Carol Says:

    Well said, Becky. My dad died 10 years ago this past January. What I wouldn’t give to be able to talk with him again. They live on in us in so many ways.

  5. Jillian Says:


    Followed you over here from Twitter.

    What a wonderful, heart moving, tribute to your father.

    Clearly he is still with you in spirit!

  6. kamilla Says:

    har maddy skiftet e-post? hun svarer ikke på e-mailen jeg sendte henne.

  7. laurie Says:

    On a post about someone else losing their father a couple weeks ago, someone commented, not unkindly and obviously trying to help, “someday it will be just another thing.” And I thought to myself how untrue that was, at least in my world.

    One of my best friends lost her dad in her freshman year of college and we talk about him a lot, still. She’s 56. Deep losses like this (and I’m so sorry it happened, for all of you) are things we have to learn to live around and like you’ve done here, keep the good things alive in our memories and in the way we are from day to day. We’ll always know we had that steadfastness, that support, which as much as it hurts to lose I shudder to think what I’d have been or done without it. (I did not lose my father young but a grandfather who was like one, which, while different, was profound all the same.)

    I’m glad you wrote about him. He sounds like a great guy, and in spite of what you may not think you share, he clearly passed some good things down.

  8. Sherilyn Says:

    Touched my heart! Very moving!! I think I’ll go call my dad right now! Thanks Becky!

  9. Stimey Says:

    This is beautiful. He sounds like a wonderful man and a wonderful father.

  10. Cindy L Says:

    Fabulous piece. Reminded me of my relationship with my late father, who died 17 years ago. I still miss him and think of him daily. His life lessons are with me still — as your dad’s will be with you.

  11. Cyndi Says:

    Oh, now I’m crying. I lost my father before I knew him, I can only imagine the sense of loss when he was actually there for you in every way. Please know he’s meant a lot to a lot of people, because of you :hug:

  12. Patty Says:

    Hugs to you Becky! Enjoyed reading this. I lost my dad 5 years ago and my mom last year. I miss them terribly. They were my rock!!!!!

  13. Two Makes Four Says:

    What a wonderful post. I’ve never really known my dad, other than the fact that he’s never spoken to me in my whole life….you’re a very lucky woman to have these memories (and thanks for sharing :)

  14. Mark Says:

    Outstanding piece!
    I miss lemon drops and when he’d let me finish the bottom half of his ice cream cones (it’s still my favorite part). Dad was, in my eyes, the greatest in the world. The hardest part was never knowing why it happened. The easiet part of losing him has been loving my kids the same way he loved me. As a dad, my goal is to be as great of a father to my girls, as he was to you.
    I love you!

  15. Deb Says:

    Hugs to you, Becky. Thanks for sharing your wonderful dad with us. : )

  16. Becky Says:

    Thanks, everyone, for such warm, kind comments.

  17. Ben Says:

    It is totally typical that my brother is the first to comment, and here I am two days later. That’s the Henry boys for you.

    Anyway …

    The impact of his actions, that you remember so vividly the night he drove you to the basketball game, and the rides to work, that you see him in all the people you love, show how much he is still there.

    No, it’s not the same. A memory is not a telephone conversation. But, you know here he is impacting me, today. I hope that my children remember me the way you remember him.

    So thank you both for that.

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