Remembering Dad

I didn’t know it, but I was in too deep.

I was about six years old, in a hotel swimming pool. I felt the water ripple over my mouth and rise up to my nose, all while I struggled to stand a little taller.

I was trying to see how far I could go, if I could get closer to my teenage siblings who were playing just a few feet away. All of sudden, my dad was there, reaching for me, guiding me back to where it was safe. Years later, he would tell of how he was upstairs in the hotel room and had a feeling I was in trouble. That was the connection we had.

I lost my dad at the end of March, after he suffered a massive stroke and died just two weeks later. Today, when we’re at his summer place on the same Long Island Sound beach he summered as a boy, I’ll find a way to be near him.

My father led an amazing life — he had six kids, became a lawyer and then a judge — but watching him in water, that was always where he seemed most comfortable, most happy. Even last summer, in his early 80s, he could swim for an hour easily. Standing on the shore, we would look for his distinctive, easy stroke, to try and spot him far out in the distance.

I remember going fishing with him as a little girl, and catching my first fish in his stow boat. He had been a lifeguard before he married my mom. On one of their dates, he took her out in a rowboat. He said he never wanted her to be afraid — so he told her was going to capsize the boat. Then he did. He was like that — he taught us how to master things, by his competent, capable example. A few years ago, we were snorkeling in the Caribbean. The current changed and the two of us started getting pulled out. He looked at me and gestured to swim first parallel and then at a diagonal back to shore. I remember feeling safe and strong as we made it back safely, not just because he was there, but because he had prepared me for moments like this, and he believed in me.

I miss you Dad. I miss knowing you’ll always have my back. I miss the one person, who like me, was easily moved to tears by what’s beautiful in life.

My daughter, your granddaughter, says Grandpa isn’t gone. He’s in the air, he’s in trees, she says to me, beautifully, like only a nine-year-old can. Today, like her, I believe you’ll be there, in the water, and we’ll find a way to be with you again, remembering what you loved best.

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  1. I agree with your daughter, Liz. Having just lost my stepfather of 38 years, who was very much a father figure to me, I know that he is all around, with his laugh and appreciation for living life. Thanks for the touching tribute, which brought a few tears to this father’s day morning, but then I, too, cry easily at beautiful things.

  2. Liz, I am very sorry for your loss. You’ve written a beautiful and moving tribute. Your dad must have been terrific, from what I know of you and your gorgeous kids.

  3. He’s not gone, he’s part of you. That’s what all the training was. What a great picture, too.

  4. Very special! Thank you Liz for telling your story and by doing so reminding me once again how lucky I was to have a father who gave me strength, taught me about life and was always there for me and my family. Missed, yes, but always in our hearts.

  5. Liz, as I sit here with tears rolling down my cheeks, only us, those that have or had a wonderful father to guide us through life, can truly feel your words in our heart. So sorry for your loss. My dad is going to be 88 years old and he is still a powerhouse! The energy and love of life that beams even through the phone line from Florida, is amazing. Their whole generation is so appreciative of each day. I find it amazing when my dad sees things that go on today, shakes his head and tells me the way it would have been done back in the days of old. And you know what, his words make so much sense.
    Let’s continue to celebrate our fathers, today and every day.

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