Dear Parent Friends

Dear Parent Friends,

Here is what you should know. I got 23 years, 2 months, and 11 days with my dad, and they were not enough. Forever, of course, is not enough – all of our parents leave us too soon. I was reminded of this first thing this morning, when I got a text from a friend saying she was crying. My email had the why: our mutual friend has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. All I can think about are her two little boys. So here is what I wish I had, since I don’t have my dad:

me and dad mt shastaI wish I had his voice, recorded, preferably telling the kind of jokes and stories that my mom would scold him for. I wish I could hear him pronounce human “yoo-man” one last time, and wrinkle my nose at the awkward sound.

I wish I had video of him, doing anything. Even talking on the phone to his best friend while watching golf on TV would be great. He’d call Jesse “honey” and Jesse would call him “dear” and they’d gossip and talk about their motorcycles and who knows what else and it would put me to sleep. I’d love to hear that again, to be bored by the mundane conversation, to see his quirks captured on camera.

And photos, I wish I had more of them. I have precious few-he was behind the camera a lot, and didn’t much like having his picture taken. But what I wouldn’t give for a picture from the early 90s that isn’t the incredibly awkward family photo where Alex is the only one smiling and my lips are totally chapped.

Most of all, I wish I had his stories. God, he could tell a tale. Some of them were me and dad promembellished, but the strangest ones were all true. I still don’t know how he ended up on the Kennedy’s yacht but danged if there isn’t a picture of him on the Honey Fitz hanging up at mom’s house. And I wish I knew more about his time in Korea in the Peace Corps. I have the fantastic picture with his mutton chop sideburns and a bunch of Korean people who are strangers to me. All I know is they were his students at the university. That story will remain unwritten.

I want you all to tell your kids your stories. Write them. Let them video you. Use the awesome StoryCorps app – it will help. Your children can interview you.  And get in the pictures – get a selfie stick if you must, but take pictures with your kids.  Have pictures taken.

Please do this for your children. 1 in 2 women will have cancer; 1 in 3 men will have cancer. Most will survive it, but no one lives forever. I beg of you, please think now about leaving your stories for your babies.


PS: Resources I have found since posting this on FB:

Recordable Storybooks from Hallamark

Every Story Media – Lyn Jackson and David Stephenson produce your family’s story (or your business’s or your pet parrot, whatever) for folks in the 919 and beyond.

3 responses to “Dear Parent Friends

  1. hi Sarah, I can so relate to your story, I was much the same age when my Dad died, I had a 22 month old daughter and a 3 week old daughter, they missed out on his stories and his voice and all those wonderful “poppa” photos, and I hate April because it’s his death month plus its ANZAC day in Australia and he was in WW2 and every year I cry when they play “the last post” because I miss my Dad. So now I am a “Grandma” of three little munchkins and I am making every effort to be in their photos so that they will be able to look back and have happy memories of Grandma! Thank you for writing your blog, I came over from Sarah Mae’s newsletter.

    • Oh, Kim, thanks so much for sharing your story. I am sorry April is so bittersweet for you. I’m so glad you’re in your munchkins’ photos! They will treasure them so much. I find myself missing my dad at the strangest moments – even today, Percey Sledge passed away and my dad loved him, so I felt a little renewed wave of grief. It’s jarring. Anyhow, so much love to you and your family!

  2. Thank you, Sarah for sharing your story. Here I am reading it almost a month later than you posted it but its speaking to my heart. I was around the same age, too, just 24 and had not had either of my children. April 10th was my Dad’s death date so I think of him often in the spring. Really often period, even though its been years. I wish I had the same things you do. In addition my Dad loved to cook and so does my daughter so I wish I had his recipes though he always said he just added a bit of this and that. Thank you so much for sharing on Sarah Mae’s blog which I just managed to find in my Feedly at 11:20 when everyone else was sleeping. I am inspired to write down and record stories of the rest of my family while I still can.

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