This is my dad on his wedding day, February 9, 1973. Today is the 38th anniversary of his death.
He drowned May 14, 1977 at Buffalo Trace Park after spending the day picking strawberries in Starlight, Indiana. I was almost four, and he was a few short months from being 27 – both of us Leos.
It’s tempting to feel heartbreak on this day because the loss of any great love leaves a never fully-healed wound – but, I can’t help be thankful. This was my dad.
He was handsome, and smart, and a compassionate father when becoming a father was maybe not what he had planned at this point in his life. (I was born 170 days after this photo was taken.)
He took me to the New Albany – Floyd County public library often, and would hold my hand as we walked to Emery’s Ice Cream on Beharrell Avenue.
He was the second oldest in a family with six kids, and held his own – and usually everyone else’s – at a poker table.
The year I was born, he unexpectedly ran into his younger brother at Churchill Downs. He told him to hand over whatever money he had, he was going to put it all on a horse called Secretariat. (This is a new story for me, one I just heard from my uncle on Derby day this year.)
He earned a degree from the University of Louisville and wrote my mom love poems that he signed “Norman Teasdale.”
I vaguely remember him having a small, maybe yellow, convertible sports car and I have a notion of the apartment where he lived in downtown New Albany after his and mom’s divorce – I remember the apartment being white – white cabinets, white counter tops, a white tile floor.
On my 3rd birthday, he put a note in my birthday card that read:
There are few things sure in my life, in anyone’s life, but I will always love you. Stay close, smile, love, enjoy life. You are mine and I am yours.
How fucking perfect are those departing words?
I don’t remember my father enough to miss him in the same ways as those who grew up knowing and loving him, but I have lived with his death long enough to appreciate what I was given, having him as my father.
I don’t want to grieve his death today; I want to honor him by basking in the joy he wanted me to have – by running as fast as I can toward a life that makes my heart burst with every breath I take.
was am so very lucky to have him.