As a friend of mine always says, the longer you live, the more this is gonna happen. It’s just the way it is.
June 2, 2017 is my dad’s death day. I got the call that following Monday morning just before I went on the air…and I mean, moments before.
Relatives had been attempting to get in touch with me over the weekend. I’d attended a yoga workshop that Saturday and Sunday I was out doing yard work, not paying much attention to my phone either day.
I worked through the week while I figured out the logistics of going to Farmington Minnesota (where my dad lived, just outside of Minneapolis), what to do with his body, how to write his obituary, what to do with his possessions, all of those things we avoid thinking about until we’re slapped in the face with reality.
I got on a plane Friday evening, in a daze, heading into the unknown.
What followed was a week of raw emotion, old family, new family, new friends, kindness, support, surprises, hilarity and a discovery of strength I didn’t know I had.
Because my dad is who he is, he and I didn’t have a conventional father/daughter relationship. He’s a musician and that’s the muse that fed his soul. I accepted that and met him where he was.
My parents divorced when I was young. I lived with my dad’s mom (grandma Josephine) and her houseful of kids (my aunts and uncles) for a time and until she passed, she’d always kept in touch with me and my brother.
Dad, on the other hand, was less communicative. Oh we’d talk a few times over the years but it wasn’t until I was older that we began communicating in earnest, by phone, letters, cards, postcards (all of which I stumbled on as I went through his things this past week). I went to visit him.
We mostly talked music. We also seemed to share a similar outlook on life and had the same quirky taste in decor. He wasn’t one for small talk and had an intelligent sense of humor. And he was pretty much no bullshit. He liked his space and rarely communicated with family. One of my aunts called him her “mysterious older brother”.
He had two other daughters from two other marriages after my brother and me. I met one and spoke to the other on the phone this past week.
He may not have been Ward Cleaver but he was a good man. And he was the right father for me. And his neighbors and coworkers thought the world of him.
Too often people lament what they don’t have instead of appreciating what they do have.
Here’s a few pictures from the past week. Everything else I’ll save for the book.
A couple of my dad’s songs…him on guitar and vocals:
Dad gets more than a few mentions in this book: