Thursday, April 11, 2013

Since You've Been Gone

Happy 53rd birthday, Dad.

September 20th is the day I get to be sad and angry, I told myself that the first year you were gone. April 11th is the day I am supposed to be happy, and remember. Because I had the most amazing father for the first 19 years of my life, and while I deserved so many more years than that, it's more than a lot of people get. I am the luckiest daughter, to have had you as long as I did.

This is now the sixth birthday you've been gone, sixth year. Wow. I want to say "time flies" but I remember my writing workshop teacher sophomore year of college telling me that's considered a cliche and I should not use it in my writing. Stephanie Meyer uses cliches all the time but look at where it's gotten her (were you even around for the travesty that is Twilight?) Also, starting sentences with "I" is frowned upon, but on a blog where I talk mostly about myself it's rather hard to avoid.


It's really amazing how the world has changed, since you've been gone. How I've changed, how our whole family has grown. I wrote a story once where the main character's father came back from the dead and didn't even recognize the town they lived in anymore--it was only the house, with all of its things in the same spots they'd been placed in when he left, that he remembered. I think you'd still recognize it, Hatfield that is, but I haven't lived there for years now. I know they still have yet to install a traffic light, and Smithsonian Restaurant is now Grill n' Chill and the wings aren't as good anymore, but Smithsonian now has a chowder house where you can still get their amazing clam chowder--not as good as Boston Oyster House, but amazing for Western Mass. Other than that, it's probably the same little town where you taught me to ride a bike in the church parking lot behind our house.

Six years... it's hard to really catch you up on everything. Wherever you are, you probably know already, but   I thought I'd give you some highlights, just in case.

When you died, as you know, I was studying abroad. It was really hard to come home and deal with it all--having the most important person in your life gone so quickly like that... to say it "takes a toll on you" (another cliche, whatever) is an understatement. But after the funeral, I flew back. I couldn't NOT go back, you know? You were so excited for me. I had to finish, as hard as it was. And though I wanted so badly to be with my family and friends, it really was the best place I could be. It gave me time to distance myself from the grief, package it up across the ocean and wait until I was strong enough to open it back up. Take pictures in front of the Eiffel Tower, Big Ben, the Giant's Causeway, Prague Castle, with a smile on my face that eventually became genuine. You didn't choose to leave us, but if you had to go, I suppose this was a better time than most.

I graduated college, Drew graduated high school and then two year college. I didn't graduate with honors--I could have, but I decided my social life was just as important as my studies and I know you would have supported that. After all, you were the one sneaking bottles of vodka into my dorm room that first year. I tell that story a lot. I want my friends to know how cool you were. Drew's in his third year of college now. It's amazing. I know the struggles you and Mom went through in the beginning for him, to make sure he got the education he needed for his situation, and he's such an amazing young man now--and you should hear him SING! You thought I was the singer of the family, I know, but Drew's far and beyond my singing ability now. You'd be so proud of him. He'll graduate college next year. He's incredible. He misses you too. In truth, he probably needs you more these days than I would have, but he's doing great regardless.

We both do a lot of community theater. I know that if you were still around, you'd be front row center for each show, just as you did when we were in school. It didn't matter that you lived in Boston, or that you sometimes missed the first scene, I hope you know how grateful we were that you made the trip. Don't worry, Mom grabs the front row center seat, and often comes to every show. Brian too. I miss hearing your laugh from the audience--it was really a great, booming laugh--but we know we're supported and loved.

I was in the Rocky Horror Picture Show last fall. I know you would have gotten a kick out of that.

A year after graduating, I landed my first "real" job. I do marketing for an energy company, I like it a lot. I wish you were here to chat with about the ups and downs of office life. I remember showing you Office Space and how hard you laughed because of how true it was. I don't have a cubicle, I have an actual office, with a door, and I got to choose the color of the walls and carpet. Dusty Rose and Petal Pink on a paint chip translate into "Barbie Dream Office" apparently--I hated Barbies, remember? It's nice, though. I grew to like it. It's very hard to be negative when surrounded by pink.

You'd be a Facebook guru by now, I know it. You were so good with computers. Don't be angry that I use a Mac now, I know you were a PC guy.

I moved out of Mom and Brian's house in September--they got their first house together and it is GORGEOUS, you'd be so happy for them!--and now live in Greenfield. It's not my first apartment, that one was in Boston, but it's my first apartment as a real adult. My roommate rocks. I have a cat, and he is awesome. You were always a cat person. You'll be happy to know that we found a good home for your cat. She's gotten nicer in her old age, thank goodness. Scratches from a double-pawed cat are the worst.

I've had a few boyfriends since you've passed, but I think you'd really like this one. He reminds me of you, in ways. Manly man on the outside, big ol' teddy bear on the inside. I can just imagine you meeting him, and saying "Hey man, what's up?" and then "Later, dude," as you always did. I'm glad you liked my stepfather, because he gets to be the Dad when I bring guys home, now. These two look out for me, even when I am dead-set on taking care of myself. I know you'd appreciate that.

I'm writing a book. It's a cook book, because I'm actually pretty into cooking these days (if you couldn't guess from the blog). I won a contest, got an agent, and my proposal is being pitched to publishing houses. I know this news would have made you cry, and I would have cringed in embarrassment because seeing a man of your stature cry (even when they're happy tears) is always kind of ridiculous. But it was so you, and I love remembering it now. Anyway, it's going to be tough, but it's a challenge that I'm more than ready to face. I love writing. You always told me I was meant to be a writer. I know you're proud of me. I'm proud of me, too.

Well, that's about all for now. I'm sure there's more, but those are at least some of the highlights I guess. I miss you so much. I hope you have a wonderful birthday, wherever you are.



Click here for past posts about my Dad, they have more food.


  1. You look so much like your dad and you've accomplished so much to be proud of. You have such a great perspective of setting asside this day to be happy and remember him, I know that can't always be easy.

    1. Haha, do I? My brother and I joke that we look more like each other than we look like our parents. Though I suppose my brother has more of my mom's features (tall and slender, dark hair, darker eyes) and I have more of my dad's (lighter hair, shorter and curvier, light eyes).

  2. What a terrific letter to your dad. He sounded like a truly amazing man and your love for each other is crystal clear here. Best of luck on your book! How exciting!!

  3. So beautiful, Ashley. Thank you for sharing it.

  4. This was so touching and sweet!! I'm sure you make your dad so proud, especially with this post and your up and coming cookbook!

  5. I have to say, I cried while reading is so sweet and I'm so sorry your dad isn't physically present to read it but I'm sure he's reading it from somewhere wherever he is. Heck, who knows, maybe your dad and my dad are hanging out in heaven. My dad was totally the vodka-sneaking type as well.

    1. Haha, they're hanging out and toasting to their kitchen queen daughters ;)

  6. This post was incredibly beautiful. You were so lucky to have such a wonderful father and he was so lucky to have such a brilliant daughter <3

  7. Awe Ashley you touched my heart with this. Next month is my dad's date. Last month was my mom's. It breaks my heart you lost your dad when you did. I'm so happy you have such fond memories though. Big hugs to you. xx

  8. Oh honey, what a beautiful, moving post... Your dad sounds like such an amazing man. Big hugs to you.

  9. Ashley, what a very touching post and how very fortunate you were to have such a terrific father. He sounds like he was a wonderul person and he must have been/is so very proud of you! While posts like this always make me sad they are are still wonderful to read! Nicely done, Ashley!
    Have a lovely weekend!

  10. oh, what a sweet, beautiful post. so sorry about your loss. this is just touching.