Home > Family, General, Life > On anniversaries: pieces that remain

On anniversaries: pieces that remain

November 30, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Pieces from a life

When someone you love passes away, nothing remains except memories and, if you’re lucky, a few sentimental pieces leftover from their life. These items, so ordinary that in other circumstance they’re nothing more than so much clutter, instead help you hold on, however tenuously, to the reality that once was but is no more. Sometimes it feels so easy to fall into that place where you find yourself wondering if it was ever real, or was it all just dream.

A year ago today, on November 30th, 2012, my father passed away. Today I reflect on the bittersweet nature of this anniversary. I’m reminded of the man that I called dad, and the love that I held for him, and the many memories I have of him over the years. Yet I’m also reminded that he is gone: no more phone calls, no more visits, no more e-mails. There is nothing left of the man I knew except a gravestone and a few items that once belonged to him.

Wooden propellers for radio-controlled airplanes, a hobby that he loved. I grew up watching him build his planes in the garage, then take them out and fly them through the sky. I was lucky enough to tag along with him on many of his flying trips, and I remember them vividly to this day.

A pair of his glasses. For as long as I knew him, he had terrible eyesight and wore glasses of some kind or another. And I remember hearing him lament his condition, mostly because he regretted that he couldn’t become a pilot in the military. Instead he had to serve in the Navy.

An old watch, scratched and beat up. I don’t think he really ever cared much about time, or its passing, at least not until toward the end of his life. Then it seemed that time became a precious commodity, and one of which he was quickly running out. I can sympathize with his feelings, as I sit here today wondering just how in the world I ended up where I am today.

Finally, a voice recorder he picked up after his diagnosis. He’d originally intended to use it to document his successful battle with cancer, and then perhaps write a book about his experience. Unfortunately, he never had the chance to use it for that purpose. But he did use it to record a couple of brief messages about how he was feeling during his treatment.

As it turns out, of these items, the recorder is the most precious one I have, because it gives me the one thing I would never have had if it didn’t exist: I can still hear his voice. After weeks and months pass by, it’s so easy for memories to fade, but with this recorder, whenever I feel the need, I can listen to him speak, if only for just a couple of minutes. It doesn’t matter what he’s talking about, it’s just hearing that voice one more time.

Love you, dad, and still missing you …


  1. November 30, 2013 at 12:30 pm

    You almost brought me to tears in Starbucks. I’m sorry for your loss – this must be a difficult time for you. It’s a blessing that you still have that recorder, though. My friend lost her mother to bone cancer when we were in college and she doesn’t have anything like that to remember her by. She struggles with that fact to this day.

    My thoughts are with you today, buddy.

    – Elle Chambers

    • November 30, 2013 at 12:36 pm

      Thank you for reading the post, Elle, and for commenting. I appreciate that you took the time to do so. Means a lot.

  2. November 30, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Beautiful tribute to your dad. I would give anything if I had a recording of mine and I am happy you have yours. Thanks for sharing.

    • November 30, 2013 at 11:11 pm

      Thank you, John, for reading and commenting. I must confess that the recordings, however brief, are precious. I know exactly how you must feel. I am blessed.

  3. November 30, 2013 at 12:44 pm

    Dave, this is such a beautiful tribute to your father. Reading your words and only knowing you through our blogs, I see your father raised a good man who in turn is a good father to his own children. Fortunately, both of my parents are still alive and healthy, but for the same reason you mentioned, I have voicemail messages on my phone that I’ve never deleted…just in case. I pray that you continue to find peace in the loving memories you have of your father.

    • November 30, 2013 at 11:42 pm

      Thank you so much for reading and commenting, Jill. And thank you for your kind words. They are what I hope are true … for what does any parent really have but their legacy, carried on by their children, and grandchildren. I remember reminding my dad over and over again about how proud he should be of all the wonderful grandchildren he has. I think it helped him feel better, which it should. Don’t ever delete those voicemails, because you never know. I lost several that my dad had left and I was heartbroken.

      And thank you for your prayers, Jill … they are needed and very much appreciated.

  4. DJ
    November 30, 2013 at 3:00 pm

    A time to reflect, not that we haven’t many times this past year, yet today brings a flood of memories that we will take time to share. You are a wonderful son and your dad loved you dearly. His laughter, his passion for writing, his sense of humor, and love for his family are all the wonderful attributes I see in you and I am blessed daily. Fear not, he has not left. His love will live on in you, your children, and grandchildren. We shall raise our glass this evening in honor of a great man. Love you

    • November 30, 2013 at 10:48 pm

      Thank you, DJ, for your support throughout the day, and doing all you can to help make the day pass with joy instead of tears. To know that something of my father lives through me makes me happy. And if anyone would know, it would be you. I think he would be happy about it as well. Thank you for the perfect end to the day – a toast to dad … I think he would have enjoyed it. Love you, DJ!

  5. November 30, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    You say there’s nothing left of your dad but memories and a few objects, but you are wrong. You are a living testament. I never would have known he existed, but I do because of your words. Thanks for sharing them.

    • November 30, 2013 at 10:56 pm

      That you took the time to read this post of mine means a lot, Eric. I never really thought much about how I was passing along his memory through my blog, but you’re right. I am. Thanks for reminding me of that.

  6. kirbyp
    December 1, 2013 at 9:55 am

    A beautiful post Dave. Thanks for reminding us that time with loved ones is precious. You must miss him a lot.

    • December 1, 2013 at 12:47 pm

      Thank you Kirby. I appreciate that you took time to read the post and comment. Means a lot. And yes, I do miss him.

  7. December 1, 2013 at 2:35 pm

    Dave, I enjoyed this most wonderful tribute to your dad. Those items of which you wrote are precious and will always serve as reminders of the good man your dad obviously was. When I lost my dad, very suddenly and unexpectedly, in 1978, I never thought I’d ever get over it, and I spent many years asking “Why?” As time has passed, the sadness and hurt are not as painful, but every anniversary of his passing always finds me wondering “what if…” all over again. I can appreciate your feelings. Thank you for sharing your thoughts with us. Prayers and well wishes to you!

    • December 1, 2013 at 5:33 pm

      Thank you for reading the post and for commenting. Though he passed away last year, I was blessed to have him in my life for many years. I can’t imagine losing a parent when younger, nor having it occur unexpectedly. That must have been very difficult to get through. Thanks so much for your prayers …

  8. December 1, 2013 at 4:03 pm

    What a beautiful tribute, Dave. Like Eric said, you are living testament to your dad. I’m sure somewhere he is feeling mighty proud of you.

    • December 1, 2013 at 5:35 pm

      I’d like to think so, Marie. I think most of us want our parents to be proud of us, regardless of our age. Thanks for taking time to read this post and to comment … I know how very busy you are, so it means a lot.

      • December 1, 2013 at 7:54 pm

        Dave, I always enjoy reading your posts and am happy when I see one pop up 🙂

  9. December 5, 2013 at 9:35 am

    Dave, buddy, my heart goes out to yours today.

    There’s not much else to say.

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