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Blog Post #6: Happy Heavenly Father's Day

Updated: Dec 20, 2023


Undergrad Commencement for my B.A. Degree

Dear, Dad,


I thought a lot about what I wanted to share about you here and how I could make it different than what I have written about you in my book. I also realized I thought I had more pictures of you, and of us together, but 20 years is a long time, and you passed away before social media and smart phones when taking pictures became so easy. The older I get, the more I realize that although when I was really young I was closer with mom than with you, the greatest gift I got was the chance to get to know you again as an adult before you were taken from me far too soon.


Moving in with you at the age of 18 after not living with you since the horrific divorce proceedings began at age 12 was definitely a culture shock at first. Although you and mom were very different people, our family culture before the divorce had been a good balance between the both of you. The compromises you both had to make to live under the same roof and raise two kids for 19 years had become the balance that led to a very happy early childhood for me. Having the experience of living with each of you separately after the divorce definitely took some adjustment.


At first, going from my home with mom to yours was a little like boot camp. You had been living alone for a few years, and like anyone would do, you had things exactly the way you liked them, which for you meant EVERYTHING was very neat, clean and organized ALL THE TIME. This was VERY different from life with mom, as I’m sure you knew. After living with you and getting to know you on your new home turf, I often wondered how you and mom managed to stay married for 19 years.


I believe in divine timing, and that everything happens for a reason. I revel in the moments when the synchronicities of life line up and suddenly make sense and bring forth so much meaning; numbers have been a big part of that for me as well. The winding path that my life has taken has brought me to this moment in time where I would choose this year, 20 years after your passing, 10 years after mom’s passing, to write this blog, and prepare to publish a book about my life 30 years after my high school graduation. Even as I sit here and write, I realized in this moment that I am now in my 19th year of marriage to a man I love deeply, and who is also very different from me.


I have learned a lot from your marriage to mom, as well as others I have been honored to witness throughout my life, including my own. The most important thing I have learned is that attraction and love may be what initially brings people together, a marriage won’t last if you don’t have compromise and mutual respect. Perhaps the most important lesson I have learned about a lasting marriage is the ability to grow together, and the willingness to allow each other to still exist in some ways as individuals.


It has taken me a long time to even figure out who I am as an individual. I have sifted and sorted through all I learned from you and mom, as well as every other person and experience I have had in my life so far. I had to learn to give myself grace for my mistakes, especially since my failures and mistakes have given me the gift of the richest learning experiences. I also had to learn how to love and accept myself not through your eyes, mom’s eyes, the eyes of my husband or my friends, but through my own eyes.


After learning, and many times re-learning those lessons, what I realized is that I believe you passed the best parts of you onto me. Honestly, there have been times in my life when certain traits you passed down to me, like perfectionism, showed up in an unhealthy way for me, as I’m sure it did for you at times as well. It has taken me a lifetime to take the pieces of you that I hold within me, and to learn to integrate them into my strengths with a direct line of love and pride that links directly back to you. At this point in my life, I have learned to let go of any painful emotional wounds that might be attached to them. I know your intention was only to love me and to pass down everything you knew and valued simply out of the love and pride you had for me as your daughter.


Perfectionism aside, I also wouldn’t have the same amazing love of music, or the breadth of knowledge, love and respect for everything from 70’s soft rock, (which is now often referred to as “Yacht Rock”) to jazz, funk, R&B, disco, 70’s and 80’s classic rock and beyond. When I’m missing you, I love nothing more than to hop in my car, hit shuffle on my Spotify “Liked Songs” playlist, turn the volume up, and let your energy come flowing through the speakers straight to my heart to soothe my soul.


Each time I hear my loud, bellowing laugh, I smile because I can hear yours too. I hold your love of gathering with good friends, good food…sometimes a little "boojee" food, but also enjoying the pleasure of the simple classics, and the deep understanding and appreciation for the pairing of food and wine. One of my favorite simple classic pairings, a delicious Pinot Noir with ham and scalloped potatoes that we discovered one Easter Sunday. Each time I craft a mouthwatering marinade I remember what I learned from you and I fire up my grill proudly holding the title of “Grillmaster” in my home, and there is nothing like a glass of a bold and beautiful Cabernet Sauvignon paired with a Stewart Family Secret Marinade on a delicious grilled steak.


I was born with your red hair, and your beautiful blue eyes. Although my hair quickly turned to blonde, the natural curls that came from your side of the family through Grandma Stewart and Aunt Sandy remained. It took me awhile to understand what to do with them, along with plenty of frustration, tears and wishes for straight hair like other girls, but now I love my curls and can’t imagine me being me without them.


I miss you every day, and know that although you are always with me; I still wish I could have heard your loud clap as I finished my graduate research presentation, or got to hug you and see the look of pride on your face a few days later after I walked off the stage to be acknowledged for earning my master’s degree. Although I know you made your presence known at my wedding, I missed having our father/daughter dance just before we would have been the first to tear up the dance floor the way we always did. I also hate that I never got to sit with you and my husband as you cracked each other up telling silly and completely inappropriate jokes, or talked about cars or the million other things you two have in common. I’m happy you at least got to meet him before you passed, but it wasn’t enough time, and by then you were not able to be fully you anymore.


Twenty years have gone by so fast, and at the same time it seems like a lifetime has passed. Though the pain of your loss has eased, the moments I wish I could share with you never end. This year on Father’s Day will be the first time in 20 years that I venture out on this day in public, it is not usually a day I like to spend in places that remind me that you aren’t here.


Since I will be surrounded by people celebrating, laughing, drinking good wine, eating good food and taking in a beautiful view, I’m pretty sure you will be right there with me all day. I look forward to the signs you will send me to make your presence known. If history is any indication I’m sure you will pick a moment when I’m stuck in my head and need you to insert yourself in a way that will be sure to make me laugh and smile, and get me out of my head and back into enjoying the moment. You were always so good at doing that, and it is just one of the many things I love about you. There are just too many to list.


Happy Heavenly Father’s Day, Dad! I love you so much, and am so proud to say I am your daughter. Cheers to you! XOXOXO


Love Always,

Mel


On one of our favorite coastal campings trips



Flashing those baby blues!



Definitely Ready for Some Yacht Rock Here!

Pretty sure I was mad at you here & you were trying to make me laugh to get over it.

My Prom Night...Hello 1993!

Love You Always Dad! Love Your Mel!

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2 commentaires


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17 juin 2023

Love this so much! “Oh ick Ted”

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En réponse à

LOL!! 💜👏🏻

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