A Fathers Day Farewell

Sherry and Dad on guitarDad died in January. It’s my first Father’s Day in sixty-six years without him. I don’t know how to be with that truth. He was the most important person in my life. I was alone with him, holding his hand, when he took his final breath.

The last years weren’t easy for him. I was glad when he shed the troubles of his worn out body and escaped to wherever kind, hard-working, beloved men go. His presence hasn’t left me. He’s the blue butterfly that flutters around the bougainvillea and threads in and out of my house. We commune in a language free of words.

But when I saw an ad for Father’s Day, my heart lurched with pain, searing, immediate, deep. I was bereft knowing that this year I would not scan Amazon for a book with pictures of Norway, or stories about boyhood in the Midwest to send to him. When Dad stopped reading I knew his life-force was weak. He loved to read. When he was no longer interested in food, I mentally prepared for the inevitable. When the message reached me that he was failing, I took the next plane.

How will I navigate Father’s Day without him? I need a plan, a ritual, something that will not allow the day to pass like any other day. Perhaps….

…I’ll gather flowers. Dad loved them and taught me their names: bloodroot, honeysuckle, clover, buttercup, lady slipper, goldenrod, and many more. I followed his footsteps through fields of alfalfa bordered by marshy swamps as he pointed them out. None of those exist in this tropical climate, but Dad won’t care if it’s frangipani and heliconia instead.

I’ll listen to some old Johnny Cash tunes, maybe strum a few lines of Down in the Valley. Dad loved to sing and play guitar and he taught me the chords. We spent hundreds of hours playing and singing together.

And because this is Bali and offerings are an integral part of every-day life, I’ll prepare one for the ancestral spirit that is now my Dad. It will have raisins, chocolate-covered cherries, and the hottest chilies I can find. He’s the only Norwegian I’ve known who popped them in his mouth like candy, grinned with sweat beading on his brow, and asked for more.

Then I’ll play the video Jessa made with the song she sang at the funeral while her partner, Dan, accompanied her on Dad’s old guitar and I’ll cry. Of course I will. There have only been a few tears so far, but I’m ready. They’re stored up behind my eyes like a pressure in my skull that reaches all the way to my heart. And it will be the first time in many years that I’ll be with my Dad on Father’s Day.

Background song: Fall Down as the Rain written by Joe Crookston. Guitar by Dan Gaustad and vocals by Jessa Walters and Dan Gaustad.

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22 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Carol
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 05:20:38

    I’m shedding tears along with you. I miss my Dad too. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt words and the photos set to a lovely musical tribute from Jessa and Dan.

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  2. bikeclimbhike
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 07:24:36

    Wow, Sherry, So touching and such a beautiful expression of your deep love and gratitude for your dad. I love following your blog and am so glad I got to meet you!

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  3. shanemac
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 08:05:19

    Thank you for bringing to mind memories of my Dad who has been gone for twenty years but still lives clearly in my mind. Your post is so well written.

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  4. lindaharris1948
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 08:40:40

    Sherry, we are so fortunate, those of us who had fathers who stay with us even after they leave and become part of the mystery and rain. I loved your post this morning! For me, it’s been 14 years and I can tell you that you will feel his presence for the rest of your life, as I do. When my daddy died, a friend told me something I will share with you: “You will always have him. He gave you a sense of belovedness that nothing can ever take away.”

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  5. sageblessings
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 09:01:47

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. What a blessing to experience love with a parent that is so permanent and profound. Fathers Day will indeed be a special one for you this year. I love you are making an offering! Perfect.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 17, 2016 @ 09:08:51

      Permanent, profound, precious…beautiful father/daughter love. I’ve been to so many ancestor ceremonies here that it would seem blasphemous not to remember him in a very special way with his favorite foods! The Balinese feed their dead (symbolically with offerings) for weeks after they’re gone.

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  6. Barbara Garland
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 09:14:08

    Sherry, somehow, I was only vaguely aware of your dad passing in Jan and thought of you then. Now, I’m reaching out to send my blessings to you as you grieve and celebrate your father. Hearing how blessed you were(are) by him warms my heart and I am so grateful you had a loving father. My deepest blessings, Barb

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  7. Susan Wiste
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 09:33:02

    Blessings to you during this bittersweet time. I am amazed that you know of Joe Crookston and the song of his that I also take to heart. He has played my friends’ house concerts here in Duluth twice. Namaste.

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  8. Tracy
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 13:20:43

    Tears. Your dad was a good man. I am seeing pictures of your mom without him as people tend to her, it reminds me every time anew that Peter Grimsbo is no longer in this earth. I am sorry for your loss. Everyone’s loss, actually.

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 18, 2016 @ 03:55:37

      Yes, Tracy, I see people tending to Mom and how she’s courageously going on without Dad. They were inseparable for 68 years. How tough that must be. He adored her. I grew up thinking that all marriages were like theirs. Imagine that!

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  9. pat grimsbo
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 13:21:36

    Sherry Dear, I, too, have shed many tears since your Papa passed through those Pearly Gates into Heaven but as he told me – he will be waiting close by to hold them open for us when we go up there! This morning while an old musical group Andy and Dot Roskos, that Dad used to play his guitar, and harmonica and sing with, were here at 10:30 to put on a Father’s Day program here at Pleasant Seasons. It was so good to see so many old friends. After a short time of visiting with others, two young men came in the front door, saw me and started to hug me right there in front of a room full of oldsters!!! Then I realized that it was Danny, my nephew and his 23 year old son who are back in MN for the summer and wanted to come and help me share Father’s Day ! ! ! After a little time there we came back to my apartment as his son has never been here before. They were both very impressed with Dad’s Kubestols and other crafts that I still have here. My “grandnephew” is dating a Norwegian gal named Linda who was born in Norway and just came to Minnesota two years ago! We enjoyed a brief visit here and they each gave me another hug and left. What a Day!!! Now I have just finished the Bag Lunch brought to my room as they are having a Father’s Day meal for fathers and their children that are available to come. And I feel very, very tired out – time to lie down with my feet higher (on pillows) than my heart for at least an hour. Then perhaps I shall feel like going down to play Bingo – I’ll decide after some rest. Bye for now. Love you much, Mom

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 18, 2016 @ 04:09:20

      Those Bullock boys are so thoughtful! I’ll bet getting all that attention from two good-looking young men in front of your friends at Pleasant Seasons made a big impression! I’m so proud of the courageous way you are managing without Dad. Tears are ok as long as they don’t drown us. I know that both you and I are able to shed them and go on while appreciating all the wonderful memories. You’re an inspiration, Mom!

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  10. gigicullins
    Jun 17, 2016 @ 13:32:12

    So beautifully written, Sherry! This is the 5th Father’s Day without my Dad and I can’t say it gets any easier. I just wrap myself in my memories and it does help. Your Dad was such a sweet man! We enjoyed our time together with you and your family, us and my parents for those years in MN. Wonderful memories! Huge hugs and love to you today!!

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  11. pat grimsbo
    Jun 19, 2016 @ 16:36:49

    Dearest Sherry, What a wonderful, heart-warming tribute this is to Dad and I agree completely to every comment! I am finding that going ahead and shedding tears off and on helps- a little bit !!! As you well know he was a wonderful Father as well as the very Best Husband anyone could ever have – for 67 years!!! You can understand how this day is very, very difficult for me, too! We must keep reminding ourselves CHERISH YESTERDAY, DREAM TOMORROW, LIVE TODAY and on we will go, day by day! Love you much, Mom

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    • writingforselfdiscovery
      Jun 19, 2016 @ 23:51:17

      It has to be hard for you, Mom. You not only lost a devoted spouse, but also your occupation as his caregiver for the past many years. I’m so proud of you for staying involved in the activities at Pleasant Seasons and always being willing to help out or give comfort to others there. And I’m glad to know that you shed tears off and on and allow the grief to flow through you. Time is a great healer and it hasn’t even been six months yet. I love that saying: Cherish yesterday, Dream tomorrow, and Live today! On we go, day by day indeed! Thank you for that!

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