Remembering Dad and Donuts

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Twenty years ago, I moved away to L.A. shortly after my Pop was diagnosed with inoperable cancer. He was 61. In short order it moved to his brain, so quickly that he (and we) didn’t make it through the (textbook) stages of death and dying.

Six months after I moved across the country, Dad passed away. I was with him when he and his diminished, pain-wracked body fought to part ways. It was excruciating to watch, to see and to feel. I was witness to a violent separation of body and soul.

It remains the most profound experience of my life. Although people may say child birth and becoming a parent is life’s most incredible moment, I contend it is not. When a child is born, we become MORE. We are “added to.” We have introduced someone new to the Universe.

When we bury a parent, we suddenly feel less, feel untethered.

We are that child again, who did or didn’t get what we hoped we’d get from that parent. We are the child who was still in the process of a lifelong vow… Perhaps to prove them wrong. To make them proud… To repay their sacrifices… To splurge on them…To show them you aren’t a child any longer… That you are an adult.

So, decades years later, I’m still working on those subconscious vows I made to and because of my Dad. Sometimes they’ve served me well; sometimes not so much.

None-the-less, I know he’s proud of me, I know that I’ve passed the best of Robert W Smith onto my own son, and that funerals are grossly overpriced (he was a mortician).

As the sun comes up on the anniversary of his passing, I’m celebrating the ways he shaped and colored my world:

  • Art is worth slowing down to learn and make
  • Photos are part of the legacy we leave
  • Don’t rush the process when rolling coins
  • If your best takes longer than others, stand firm. It’s YOUR best, not theirs.
  • Enter the day slowly, preferably with soggy Corn Flakes
  • End the day in solitude
  • Burden no-one with pain or negativity that they aren’t equipped to handle
  • Give someone your smile most especially when all they have is tears
  • Honor someone’s privacy, guard the secrets given to you in confidence
  • Always be the one still waving
  • Appreciate clean bathrooms; it means someone takes pride in their job
  • Coffee with friends isn’t about the coffee
  • We are not the physical body we wear in this life; none-the-less while we are here, sometimes that’s hard to grasp
  • Apologies are hard; sometimes they come on the wings of time instead of being wrapped in words
  • Naps are good, especially the kind when you collapse exhausted diagonally across the bed
  • Penmanship makes a statement
  • Everyone deserves a matching pen and pencil set
  • Keep your bed head private
  • One day you’ll be glad you saved all of those TV guides
  • Being at your child’s recital, game or special event, isn’t nearly as important as making sure they know you believe in them
  • Have faith in the Cubbies, always say goodnight, and keep some emergency snacks on hand

And last but not least…

Sundays are made for donuts.

3 thoughts on “Remembering Dad and Donuts

  1. Kelli,

    Thanks for sharing this. We are all pieces of art that are molded and formed by the pain and happiness we experience. I lost my Dad six and a half years ago and that process for me was even more compressed, spanning only a week from diagnosis to planning a memorial service.

    There are so many things that make me realize that I am STILL in the process of becoming like him. Sometimes no one but me sees those things, but they are the precious pieces of history that he has left me with.

    So, if I may intrude I would like to add a couple of things to your list:

    – It’s okay for guys to cry
    – Sometimes you have to be silly
    – The day you stop learning is the day you start dying
    – A smile costs you nothing and may be everything to someone you smile at
    – The Golden rule is NOT “He who has the Gold…” It is treat everyone like you would want to be treated

    …and finally, and most importantly…

    “Ask your mother”

    At least I still have that privilege. Thinking about you while you think about your Dad today.

    • Thank you for taking the time to give such a thoughtful comment.Jeff. Your additions are fitting; In fact, they are the ingredients for a balanced life. Don’t you think?

      Your remark that you are *still* in the process of becoming like your father hit close to home. In the 20 years since my own dad passed away, I’ve gone through that same journey of self-awareness.

      Keep your list handy, by the way, and let me know when you’ve added to it. Take care, and enjoy all the time you can with your mom (as I’m trying to do despite a distance of 500 miles). Take care!

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