I was just 18 years old and it was Christmastime and I flew down to Florida to meet up with my family to spend the holidays with them. They had headed down ahead of time to drive there and since I was still taking finals, I had made arrangements I would fly down to meet them after everything was completed with my first semester at college. I flew down and met up with them on December 20, 1995 and we had discovered my dad had not been feeling well. He had some minor chest pains and we were concerned, however, his stubborn self wished not to go to the doctor or the hospital. We had learned to mind him and fulfill his wishes because his temper sometimes would get the best of him if we did otherwise.
After 2 busy days on vacation, finally on the evening of December 21, 1995, I had discovered that he had stopped breathing. I was on my way to go to the grocery store down the street to pick up some items that my mom needed, and I expressed concern. She told me to go on my way and she would see what was going on, she figured he was just sleeping very soundly because he was so tired. However, when I returned back to our campsite we were staying at, I had returned to utter chaos with rescue vehicles and police cars everywhere around. I got out of my vehicle and ran inside our camper to discover EMTs working on my dad. A few minutes after I had arrived and discovered the EMTs, one of them came to my mom, my brother, and I and told us he had passed away. My first thought was "what in the world are we going to do now?". And plus, we were 1500 miles away from home, it was 4 days before Christmas and we didn't know what to do at this point. But we pulled together and we had to be strong to get home and to figure out what to do next.
I must say that the first week of my father's absence was extremely strange, especially around the holidays. Instead of having our usual "Christmas in Florida" vacation, our relatively new tradition we had started because although we are from the cold state of New Hampshire, Daddy LOVED Florida and warm weather, we were instead planning a funeral. It certainly dampened our expectations of what was to come for our future. Here my brother, age 16 at the time, lost his male role model, his father, and probably his best friend. My dad was a very young man, only 49 years old, when he died of a massive heart attack, and my parents had been married 22 years. Shortly before his death, we had been discussing a big 50th birthday party for my daddy that was less than four months away.
Well the visiting hours we had the day before the funeral, was very refreshing to have, to have all of my dad's closest friends and business associates tell us how special they all were to him and would tell us some of the funniest stories about my daddy. My daddy was a wonderful man who, although stubborn and quick-tempered, loved his family first and foremost, very friendly and talkative and especially outgoing. Daddy also was known as a very hard worker and well known for his work ethic-- if you have a dream in life you must strive for it and achieve it by working hard. I must say that he was truly a devoted man to his family. The numerous family vacations, being there for his kids when it came to going to sports games and cheering them on to working with them on their homework when they were stumped.
I think that some of the most comforting moments I will have of daddy will be some of the nicknames he had for me, from "Killer" to "Pumpkin" to "Miss Princess". I also look in the mirror and see an image of my daddy, from my full face with the dimples to having my daddy's eyes to my laugh that is "infectious and fills the room like her father's laugh" as my mom says. My dad loved to laugh and loved jokes and just having a good time. I treasure the last gift he gave me, which is a necklace with a heart charm on it. On the charm are the words "Daddy's Little Girl". I know that letting go of his children was the hardest and watching them grow up was one of his favorite things to do, but also one of the hardest because he realized they weren't so little anymore. But I know that no matter what, I will always be my Daddy's little girl, no matter how old I am or where I am in life. I know my daddy is watching out for me and is like my guardian angel, because he couldn't let his children grow up without him with us in some way or another. I know that one of the hardest parts of letting go was saying goodbye to Daddy after the EMTs declared that he had passed on. I will have a lasting impression of kissing him and saying goodbye, it was something I had to do, but one of the hardest things to do. However, when it came to the funeral and the visiting hours, I could not even go up to his casket because it was just too hard to stand up there for me.
Now it is coming up to 2 years since his passing and we're all doing well here. Yes we all miss him in our own ways and we have had our roller coaster rides through the emotions. I am still grieving because he was very close and very much a part of my life. My mom took over the communication business that daddy started, but we have had a lot of help from a couple close friends of Dad's. My brother is just starting his senior year of high school and he is growing up into a nice young gentleman, and I know on graduation day Daddy will be looking down on us and especially my brother when he accepts his diploma. Daddy was so proud of his children and always told us how proud we made him. When we achieved a goal we set for ourselves, he was as proud as can be. And nowadays, I am about halfway through college, still pursuing my degree in education and I never gave up at pursuing my degree. Yes it was difficult to go back to college after my Christmas break that had turned into my own personal nightmare, but I cut back on my workload and had time to grieve, and had a close friend, Suzanne ("Zan" as we all call her) who understood what I was going through because she lost her dad suddenly when she was a young girl. She was truly an angel and would listen to me no matter when I needed a friend to talk to.
And now I would like to say to Daddy...Hey "Paw" I love ya and I know you are watching over me. As you know I come to visit your grave often to bring flowers and have a little tribute for you to let you know that you are never forgotten. Ken and I will carry on your legacy and Mom will always love you and will never love another man like she loved you. Thank you Daddy for being such a great father and such a supportive father through all the good and bad times. I love you very much and one day when I have my own children, I will keep your memory alive and tell them all about you and what a great "grandad" they would have had if you were still alive but that you are now an angel looking down over them and you love them very much like you love your own children. Until we meet again Daddy....I love you from "Miss Princess". And I will ALWAYS be your little girl!
You can send email to Paula at: [email protected]
anniversary date 12-21-95
date of post 09-06-97