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WritingAfterDark

Blogs of Writer, Artist, Photographer, & Caregiver Joanne D. Kiggins

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Joanne has published more than 2,500 articles and was award recipient of the 1990 Woman of the Year for Beaver County, Pennsylvania, for her accomplishments and excellence in journalism and to the community. Her co-authored book, “Unforgettable Journey,” won fifth place in the Grand Beginnings romance contest. An excerpt from her WIP, “Unearthed,” placed her fifth in the Absolute Write Idol contest. Most recently, her essay, “Perseverance,” is published in the Stories of Strength anthology in which 100% of the profits are donated to disaster relief charities. Her most recent articles were published in ByLine Magazine, Writer's Digest, AbsoluteWrite.com, and Moondance.org. She has a monthly freelance writing column at Absolutewrite.com. Currently, she is the sole caregiver for her 85-year-old mother.

Sunday, January 29, 2006

Happy Birthday, Dad. I Love You!

When I was just a child, he held my small hand in his rough working hand and assured me everything would be fine. His smile was always there to cheer me. His tolerance knew no boundaries. He was strong and wise and knew me better than I knew myself. In my mind, he knew everything. His love was unspoken, but nevertheless always known.

I remember standing at the foot of his hospital bed wishing it could be me, instead of him. Why shouldn’t someone like me take his place? He was too good to die. I could never amount to what he did in life.

As I looked at the man in the bed: small, shrunken, withering away, I wondered how such a powerful, loving man could come to this. I couldn’t bring to mind the strong, full healthy face of this wonderful man I loved. My eyes could only see the frail man in front of me.

I reached for his hand, knowing, somehow, even though he would soon be gone, he could feel me reach out to him once more. I know he knew I was there, for just a few days before, he opened his eyes and they smiled at me. They smiled just for me. To let me know that it would be all right. To let me know I would be all right. He taught me and showed me things that no one else could have shown me. He guided me, cared for me, nurtured me, loved me.

When I leaned down to kiss him on the cheek, I felt the aching, throbbing and swelling in my chest...I knew my heart was breaking.

I remember wondering how a good and loving God could let him suffer the way he did and then take him away. I remember watching the nurses and doctors record his time of death: 11:53 P.M. Tears streamed down my face as the nurse asked if I was all right. “Yes,” I said. “And so is my father now.” The words just came out. After I’d said it, the tears turned into sobs, I kissed his cheek once more and told him I’d see him tomorrow.

It’s been nearly eight years since my father died. I see a glimpse of him every day. Since his death, not a day has gone by without a thought of him. Every kiss, every soothed scrape, every splinter, every tear, every smile--everything I’d ever experienced with him is in my heart and mind forever. Everything around me is him. He was my rock, my foundation, my strength, my teacher, my protector.

He left me with the most wonderful memories a daughter could ask for. And because of that, my dad, is with me every day: in my actions, my thoughts, my dreams and especially in my heart.

Happy Birthday, Dad. I love you.

But then you knew that too, didn’t you?

Make me smile. Leave a comment...


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6 Comments:

Blogger Mark Pettus said...

You're a wonderful writer, and a wonderful daughter.

My dad turns 71 this month, and we lost my grandfather when he was 72, so I worry about how much time Dad and I have left.

I called him from a parking lot last week to ask about a strange noise my jeep was making, and when we hung up, I thought about how much I am going to miss having him on the other end of the phone when that time comes.

Thanks for a great and thoughtful post, Joanne.

1/30/2006 11:24 PM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Very touching and wonderful tribute to your father. Thanks for sharing this, Joanne. :)

1/31/2006 10:17 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thanks, Mark. My dad was 78 when he passed. Cherish every moment you have while you have them. Listen carefully to the sound of his voice and pay close attention to his expressions. Then you'll always be able to close your eyes, and hear and see him whenever you have the need. :)

1/31/2006 11:22 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Jeff for your heartfelt comment. I sometimes wonder if I become too passionate with my writing. ;) It's comments like yours and Marks that make me realize that I do my best when I write from my heart.

1/31/2006 11:32 PM  
Blogger jason evans said...

Very poignant and touching Joanne. I'm sure he knows.

2/05/2006 12:28 PM  
Blogger Joanne D. Kiggins said...

Thank you, Jason. I'm sure he does, too. ;)

2/05/2006 2:58 PM