Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Daddy's Girl

I took each letter out of the mailbox noting who every one was from, which were junk, which were holiday cards. And then there was the one that jolted me. I stuck it on the bottom of the pile in my hand, but the whole way into the house I knew it was there. And I knew what it was.

After the cards were hung and the junk mail trashed, it sat on my counter. And it sat.

From an attorney in my home town. Not a surprise really, or at least it shouldn't have been. I had, after all, returned from a whirlwind trip there less than a week ago. Just a legal formality, I shouldn't have opened it. I wasn't ready. But I did. And there it was. Filled in on the line labeled "Estate of". My dad's name.

Daddy's Girl: coming to terms with loss | Fingerprints decorate our hearts, a graphic by www.BakingInATornado.com | #loss #grief #MyGraphics



Relationships are fingerprints. No two are alike. 

People who have lost a parent say that they know how I feel, and to some degree they do. And to a large degree they do not. Because although my new normal is that I have a parent who's gone too, to a great degree my loss is just so completely different from theirs. The fingerprint of our history totally unique.

On the outside, my dad was a successful man. He owned his own business, had a beautiful home along the reservoir, a successful marriage, went on fun vacations.
 
What was on the outside was not what was on the inside.

Cherry Cola Cookies, a cherry flavored dough encasing a marashino cherry, topped with a cherry cola drizzle | Recipe by BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies


Cherry Cola Cookies
Cherry Cola Cookies, a cherry flavored dough encasing a marashino cherry, topped with a cherry cola drizzle | Recipe by BakingInATornado.com | #recipe #cookies


Dad's core was shaped by his upbringing. He grew up poor, with a mother who was pushed to her limits and with no real male role model. From what I hear his father had diabetes, was diagnosed so late that he had gone blind from it. He spent his life on the couch feeling guilty for not providing for his family, for being a burden. He was a broken man.

My grandmother was resentful. She had to work at a time when women really did not. She also had 2 children to raise, a husband to care for and special meals were required. She had to be constantly exhausted, completely spent.

When his father died, my dad was in the service and on a boat to Europe. He was sent home where he arrived after the funeral.

Looking back, it seems to me that dad really sort of raised himself. Bonding wasn't something he learned to do, relationships were not his forte. Money was an issue, anxiety, a way of life.

Dad had help along the way, but he also helped himself. He joined the service, went to college at night while married and, with help, started his own CPA firm. He even, years later, while running a successful business, went back to get his Master's Degree in Taxation. He also was able to join with my uncle in real estate ventures. And he spent time serving his community as a member of the town Retirement Board, advocating for public retirees for over 30 years.


And, third time's the charm, married successfully. A marriage that saw him grow as a person in ways I would never have thought possible. 

My relationship with dad was close, not as most people would define close, but in the only way he was capable. He was defined by his personality but, I believe, severely limited by his upbringing. Money was always an issue. He was generous if it was on his terms, unsolicited. Like the day I came home with my brand new driver's license to find a car in the driveway. And not just any car, a convertible.


But, even though I'm not one to ask for help, whenever I did go to him he wouldn't say "no" but whatever I needed, I always got less.

We had ups and downs. There was so much I'd have loved to have talked out with him, so very much unresolved in my mind and heart. But dad wasn't one for emotion, baring souls, heartfelt conversation. I always thought "some day, maybe" until Alzheimer's robbed us of that possibility. By the time I knew that it would be too late, it already was.

But I was always "daddy's girl". Despite the limits of the relationship, that was never in doubt.


Daddy's Girl: coming to terms with loss | Fingerprints decorate our hearts, a graphic by www.BakingInATornado.com | #loss #grief #MyGraphics


Weeks later it came. No fanfare, just a plain envelope. With a check inside. Not even an explanation, his name not mentioned. But I knew what it was, dispersion. The ledgers had been reconciled.

The fingerprint of this relationship remains on my heart, which also harbors ledgers that all the money in the world cannot reconcile. But where there remains unconditional love. 

Which I know was returned.

I miss you, Dad. I always will.

Baking In A Tornado signature | www.BakingInATornado.com | #MyGraphics

Cherry Cola Cookies
                                                                          ©www.BakingInATornado.com
 
Printable Recipe

 
Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks margarine, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 cup cherry cola, room temperature
1 tsp juice from cherry jar
1 egg, room temperature
2 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp salt
36 maraschino cherries

3/4 cup powdered sugar
2 TBSP plus 2 tsp cherry cola
1/2 tsp juice from cherry jar

Directions:
*Reserving 1 1/2 tsp of the juice, drain 36 cherries, gently pat them dry and allow them to sit on a paper towel.
*Beat softened margarine, sugar and brown sugar until smooth. Beat in 1/4 cup of cherry cola, 1 tsp of the reserved cherry juice, then the egg.
*Mix in flour and salt.
*Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate about an hour.
*Remove dough from the fridge. Dough will be sticky, so use wet hands to roll into 36 balls. Flatten each with your palm and carefully work a cherry into the center forming a ball again, with the cherry completely enclosed. Place back in the fridge for 1/2 hour.
*Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Cover two baking sheets with parchment paper.
*Bake for 22 minutes. Allow to sit on parchment paper ubtil cool.
*Whisk together the powdered sugar, other reserved 1/2 tsp of cherry juice and the 2 TBSP cherry cola. If needed, add more cola, 1 tsp at a time until you have a thick drizzle topping. Drizzle over completely cooled cookies. 
 

28 comments:

  1. Ohhhhhhh, all the feels. You have me thinking about my father and the brevity of life for all of us. That breakfast I've been wanting to have with him -- just him and no one else -- is now something I'm going to make sure happens. Love to you. <3

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  2. Losing a someone is devastating, but when that person is a parent and one with unresolved issues it can be like a steel door slamming in your face. I'm sorry you had to go through it and especially knowing that it was Alzheimer's. I dread the day I have to say goodbye.

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    1. Alzheimer's robs us of our loved ones in bits and pieces. I look forward to the day we find a cure.

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  3. "The fingerprint of this relationship remains on my heart, which also harbors ledgers that all the money in the world cannot reconcile. But where there remains unconditional love."

    Your words will linger with me. Thank you for sharing this moment in time with us. Wishing you some gentle moments this spring.

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  4. Thank you for sharing your father with us and a reminder that we are not promised tomorrow so do not wait. I miss my Daddy everyday and there were things I wanted to ask but never did. I've come to realize for me that those questions and unanswered answers do not matter now and would not have changed any thing, so I've let it go. I love him, he loved me and somethings are just secret.
    Cherish the memories as you heal and move forward.
    HUGS my friend.
    Dawn, Spatulas On Parade

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    Replies
    1. You are so right, Dawn, I need to let go of regrets, they do no good at this point.

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  5. I'm sorry about your loss, Karen. Sending hugs across the miles!

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  6. I love how you made the distinction that while we can relate to what it's like to have lost a father (mine died very suddenly on New Year's Eve 2010), we can't know exactly what it's like. My father also had a very challenging childhood and it resulted in him having severe anxiety and it affected ALL of his relationships. My mother divorced him when I was two...and it was my stepmother (whom he married when I was five) who made sure that he and I continued to have a relationship. And so even though I didn't grow up with him, he and I were very close, especially once I became and adult.

    Anyway...Godspeed to your Dad and peace and love to you.

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  7. Thank you for this tender peek into yours and your dad's world, Karen. We are the sum total of our experiences, aren't we? What a great man your dad was. Continues to be.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Diane. I know you understand the complexity of the loss.

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  8. Hi Karen, You made me miss my dad so much today with this blog. We lost him a couple of years back, but I still want to stop by his house and just talk to him. He had a hard time ever saying "I love you", but I know he did. Our fathers are always close to us. I smile at the penny or dimes I find laying around, or I find dad in my boys smiles or some quirky thing they do. Much love your way and thank you so much for sharing.

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    1. I completely understand your wanting to stop by and talk to him. I actually thought about my dad this morning as I was waking up and had to remind myself that he was gone.

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  9. Oh Karen this breaks my heart and it is so beautiful all at the same time. I am thinking of you and I hope to write with such honesty as you do about loosing my father as well. Sending love.

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    Replies
    1. Thank you, Monica. I'm sorry to you as well for the recent loss of your dad.

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  10. Beautiful but terribly sad.
    Fingerprint is such an accurate description.
    I remember feeling quite angry the first time someone said to me, "I know how you feel." It seemed an absurd notion at the time.
    I've since grown to understand that, although loss is something we can't console, we feel compelled to try anyway. Despite all our human faults, deep down, we feel the desire to comfort each other.

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    Replies
    1. I completely agree, Melinda,I think we do want to reach out to each other to offer comfort.

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  11. So many emotions to sort through.
    Wish I had words to help you like you have me. Just remember to breathe, one breath at a time.

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    Replies
    1. You've been so much support. I can't thank you enough.

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  12. I can't imagine the pain of losing a parent, I am glad I don't know that pain one day I will but I am not looking forward to that day but then who would

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    1. I know, Jo-Anne, we expect it but we don't expect it.

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  13. Touched by your post, Karen. Very moving.

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to read it and let me know, Mimi. I appreciate it.

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  14. Your Dad sounds like an amazingly brave man throughout his various stages of life, and he has taught you so many values that make you the wonderful person that you are.
    I'm sorry that there were things that you never got to talk about, this must haunt you, even though I'm pretty sure your Dad "said" them in his own way.
    ❤️

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    Replies
    1. You're right, Tamara, and thank you for saying that.

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