Our Fathers (who art in heaven)

Dear Friend,

Our lives have been entwined through many years, so I should have known that the death of your father would have a profound effect on me. Not because I knew him. Still, what affects you affects me. And it is the universal feeling of loss, of becoming an orphan at an advanced age when it should have been expected long ago. Some of it is a sort of serendipity.

Because there is no loss without memories of joy.

I loved the service because this joy was evident, even in the midst of grief.

As your family shared the joy that your father brought to their lives, I thought of my own father.* I thought of you and I, loving daughters and beloved daughters, still held and cherished by these men who shaped our lives and cared so deeply for us. And what a profound difference fathers make in our lives.

I watched as your husband supported you during your tribute to the man in your life who is gone from this earth; and knew that our fathers also shaped our relationships with our husbands. They gave us a model from which to choose. They taught us to look for strength and for gentleness; for devotion and clear-thinking; for depth and for humor.

Our fathers were not perfect men. And still they were perfect teachers for us in our lives. We learned by what they did right and by the mistakes they made. We learned by being cared for my them and ultimately by caring for them until the ends of their lives. What better lesson than to know that even in those moments when we didn’t think we could carry on, they were accepting of us. That what we could do for them was enough.

Thinking of you and your wonderful family…


*My dad’s presence was enhanced by the presiding minister at the service, who happened to have been a longtime friend of my father’s.


  1. I wish that I could write something as nice about my late father. Our relationship was turbulent from my preteen years and the last four years of his life which he spend with me were, in retrospect and to say the least, a lesson in patience for me. Other than his family members, there were some souls who had nice things about him. It is still a mystery to me as to why no one from his own family could or can even now.


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