I’ve been quiet for a few days on this blog for the most heart wrenching of reasons, and that is because our family lost my dad a few days before Thanksgiving. If you know me, or if you have been one of my wonderful readers for even a little while, you know what a hero my dad was to so many people, and what a role model he was for me. He was my biggest cheerleader, and he loved suggesting, sampling and reading about all the hundreds and hundreds of meals we all shared together, many of which ended up here with a mention of his love for whatever it is. One of my most-read posts was pretty much entirely his doing – the recipe for Grandpa’s Coca-Cola ribs is one that he made with pride and gusto. Every summer it rises to the top of my popular posts, and I always made sure to tell him that. Both of us got such a kick out of the fact that his ribs were probably showing up on so many picnic tables. So for this post, I’m not going to talk about food. I’m going to tell you a little more about my dad.
He loved so many people, places and things, but nothing so much as my mother.
He flat out adored her. I got so many compliments over the years that went like this: Kate, you look almost as beautiful as your mother! Kate, dinner was delicious – almost as good as your mother’s! And I took that as the highest praise, because in his eyes, my mother was and is the most beautiful, most talented person on the face of the earth. I love the pictures of their wedding, where my mom looks exactly like Grace Kelly and my dad simply looks like every single one of his dreams has come true and he kind of can’t believe it.
His grandchildren were the apple of his eye. So many of the messages I have gotten over the past few days start out by telling me that they were the way he started every conversation.
What they were doing, how perfectly they were doing it, and what they were doing next. As far as he was concerned, there was nothing more interesting or important to talk about.
He was a born and bred Northerner who loved the South and anything related to the Civil War. He was a passionately patriotic Coast Guard veteran who was also immensely proud of his Irish heritage. He was a voracious reader who would press his favorite books into the hands of anyone he thought might love them the way he did. Remembering how many times this happened to me I realize that he was a big part of why I became writer I have been all my life.
But most of all, what my dad gave to the world was his big, generous personality. He devoted himself to his friends and family as fully as he did everything else. He was so interested in people – truly, completely interested. He didn’t always agree with you – let’s just say that politics and sports were banned at my Christmas Eve dinners – but when you were with my dad he was richly there with you.
Lastly, my dad and I had a song. This was his idea, not mine, because I think people don’t usually have a song with their dad, but he picked one out for us, back in 1977 when I was in college. It was the song, You Light Up My Life, and over the years he would give me cards with the lyrics of it, he gave me a music box that played it, and at least a few times a month he would just randomly say to me, or sing to me, you light up my life. It was the last thing I said to him, and he said to me, “You have no idea how much.”
Oh, yes I do, Daddy. So as we head into the holiday season, hold your dear ones by the hand, and maybe make them a plate of my dad’s favorite ribs. He would love that.
Cheyanne @ No Spoon Necessary says
Huge hugs and condolences for your loss, Kate. I wish there were words to comfort you during this most difficult time, but clearly you are more eloquent than me. This post is beautiful, my dear. Hold on tight to the memories and know one day we all get to see our loved ones again. Huge hugs, my friend! Xoxo
Nancy Stern says
In your usual fashion, you have summed up the essence of the man. We, his friends, will miss him but the family will always have a hole where he stood. Love you all…
I’m very sorry about your loss. Your dad sounds like a wonderful person.
Karen Nelson says
Usually the words from me to you flow easily, however I feel right now so few yet so many in my heart.
Our precious Dad’s. Aren’t we blessed to have had adoring, wonderful fathers who help set our compass for life? I do share in the sadness of losing a Dad.. mine Nov. 1st 1982. As I write to you I have tears in my eyes and a lump in my throat, as that longing for the smile, hug, laugh and one more conversation never goes away. It can hit at the oddest of times and then at the most expected. We speak of the memories and while those are so very dear, they will become more so over time. Right now I still suspect your heart is so sad… Your loss, your mom’s, your family.
This isn’t about me, but I share only to let you know of my sympathies, and my heart reaching out to you friend to friend… Daughter to Daughter.
By the way.. Our song was You Are My Sunshine.
Yours…You Light Up My Life… They both speak of light and love…for which your Dad had so much of it for you, no doubts.
Take care sweet Kate and I send you love, light and so many hugs…
I am so sorry. Losing a parent tears you to the heart. Memories are so important at this time. I am going to check out “Dad’s” ribs. Blessings. Susan
Marcia S. says
I’m so sorry to hear of the passing of your Dad. He truly sounds like he was a wonderful man. It seems as if he had a really good life and his children and grandchildren will continue to make him proud. He leaves a great legacy.
What a beautiful tribute to your dad. It made me cry. My deepest sympathy.
Such a sweet post. Really sorry for your loss. What a blessing to have had such a Father.
Prayers for you and your family, and thank you for sharing such personal, beautiful thoughts with us!
Awwwwww, that was such a sweet post. I’m so sorry for such a tremendous loss. Devastating at any time, but even more so during the holidays. I lost my dad to cancer when I was a freshman in high school. He, also, was a voracious reader. And writer. I like to think I picked both up from him. I also like to think he would have gotten a kick out of me blogging. How great that yours had the opportunity to read your words. May you find peace through family and friends during such a difficult loss. And now, I most DEFINITELY need to add those ribs to my make list. ;)
Gayle @ Pumpkin 'N Spice says
Kate, I am so sorry to hear about your father. He sounds like such an amazing father, grandfather, and person. I know nothing I say is going to ease the pain, but I’m sure your Dad is looking down from above and smiling upon you. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this tough time!
My condolences to you and your family, Kate. You’ve written a beautiful tribute, and I’m sure you’ve made your dad very proud. This post will be read and cherished by your family for years to come. Sending hugs and thoughts your way.
Nora Pecci says
What a super Dad you had. I’m remembering him in my prayers tonight.
Jack Donovan says
I’ve have been a fan of your site for several months, now, and so I opened your latest “Framed Cook” e-mail as soon as I saw it in my in-box, as I always do. … I am so sorry for the loss of your Dad, it sounds like he was quite a guy, and it is obvious from your post just how close you were to one another. Please accept my sincere condolences, and know that I will pray that you and your family will experience the Joy of the Christmas season, in spite of your tremendous loss.
Thanks for sharing the lovely memories of your Dad. They are simply precious and it is these memories that will carry you through these days. I indeed will have the Coka Cola Ribs. Prayers and condolences to you and your family. And you do Light Up Many Lives!
Dear Kate, I am still in tears after reading this beautiful post about your dad! I’m so sorry to hear his passing; He sounds like a wonderful man. I am sure to put his recipe on my to do list. People we truly love never go away! He will be always with you through the love you shared! My deepest sympathy and condolences to you and all your family!
Liza Voges says
Aw, what a wonderful person you Dad was. I trust you have many memories to comfort you at this difficult time. My deepest sympathy, Liza
Kate, I’m so sorry.
Eileen Smith says
I so enjoy your columns and blog that I feel like I know you. I just want to extend my deepest condolences on the loss of your dad. My own dad has been gone for 6 years now, and your stories about your dad brought up memories of my own dad. Keep your memories close. Your dad sounds like a wonderful man.
Mary Eman says
Please accept my condolences on the loss of your father. You are in my thoughts.
David Leite says
You had me weeping at the funeral with your lovely eulogy, and you have me weeping now. Much love to you and your family. Your dad was a tremendously special person, and he will be missed.
Donna Friedman says
A lovely tribute to your Father. Very sorry for your loss.
What a wonderful tribute to you dad. I’m so sorry for your loss.
Fathers are a terrible thing to lose….my deepest sympathy…I talk to mine daily and he still gives great advice…… that I sometimes take! I am so sorry for your loss.
Mary Bolton says
Have been following your blog for a couple years. Love your work. You have my heartfelt condolances for the loss of your Dad.
Len Gigantino says
Sorry for your loss, Kate, your post is a wonderful tribute to your dad.
Such a lovely testament about the man you called Dad! So very sorry for your loss. Prayers of condolence for you, your family and all who knew and loved him. It will be an honor to make Grandpa’s Coca-Cola Ribs!
oh kate, i’m so so very sorry! what a terrible time for you and your family, but i’m thankful that you have so many fond memories that will always be with you and that you had such a wonderful person in your life for so long!
Dorothy @ Crazy for Crust says
I am so, so sorry for your loss. We lost my husband’s step-dad (like a dad) right at Thanksgiving a few years ago. It’s always hard to lose someone, but it just seems harder around the holidays. I’m sending you love and hugs!
Your father was such a lovely, lovely man and I feel honored to have known him.
So very sorry for your loss. Mine and my daddy’s song is “You Are the Sunshine of My Life.” I don’t hear “You Light Up My Life” often, but when I do, I’ll think of you.
I am so very sorry for the loss of your dad.
You and your family will be in my prayers.
As Christmas draws nearer, I know his absence will be more keanly felt. What a blessing to have had him as your dad and that he so clearly loved you. As you grieve and as the unexpected tears fall – try to find comfort in how much pride he had in you and how much he LOVED YOU!! Those photos show that!! I send you cyber hugs and condolences!!!!
I’m so very, very sorry Kate – your post is absolutely heart-wrenchingly beautiful. What a wonderful Dad, husband and grandfather.
Kate, I am so sorry about your dad. Everything that you wrote was so lovely and touching, I will be thinking about you and your family this holiday and sending you lots of love. xo, Heather
Cheryl lombardo says
Just read the lovely tribute to your dad…I totally get it… I had that same kind of dad, until 2 years ago …. Actually we started losing him a few years before,because , he had Alzheimer’s disease , but, no matter how far away he sometimes seemed, he never failed to tell me he loved me when I left him, and, he always told me to be sure to call when I got home…we are the lucky ones to have had such a father, and, that kind of love… But, to be honest, it makes the loss and the empty chair so very much harder…