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The Tribute to My Father is Complete

May 27, 2013

It has taken a week for my whole self to absorb the impact of paying honor to my dad. My stepsister hosted us at her beautiful lodge in the high desert, just a short ways from Palm Springs. My dad loved the desert. The majesty of the location and being able to stay in bungalows on the property – I was able to sit outside in the early morning and drink a cup of coffee while I watched the quail and jackrabbits feed – just like Dad loved to do.

We came from Connecticut, Chicago, San Francisco, Seattle, and Malibu – and my 88 year old mother took two planes to get there from her home in Oregon. Friends sent videos and notes if they couldn’t come, and those added deeper substance to the memories of my dad.

When we first planned this tribute we thought it would be to honor my dad’s remarkable life, and that it was, but as we prepared and talked and shared, it became obvious that this time was about reconnecting and recovery. Reconnecting with three stepsisters and a stepmother who had been important in my early life, then finding out they had similar stories about my dad (he was a cad and not a good parent) – and recovery became part of this experience.

We all talked a lot. We talked all weekend. My stepmother commented that it was interesting to watch five Alpha women (a psychologist, a writer, a corporate executive, a public policy consultant, and a doctor of natural medicine) take such care to not interrupt and take care of each other. We tried to have a schedule but we also kept changing it because we just kept on talking!

It was such a treasure to have my stepmother and my mom reconnect and spend hours talking! My stepsister had arranged for morning Qi Gong classes as well as masseuse time, and my mom had the first massage of her life!

Friday night we honored our mothers who have always been there for all of us, and that took them by surprise. It made us feel good that we could thank them in a public forum. Then quite by accident, we had dinner in Palm Springs another night, enjoyed the Marilyn Monroe statue as it tours the US, and enjoyed date shakes – as usual, it was perfect.
MM cropped
I developed several video tributes and am so grateful that my dad had the presence of mind to take video when it was called 16mm film! Watching my dad teach his mom how to play pool, or seeing my grandfather count a jar of pesos while he and my dad wonder how much they are worth against the dollar – those are priceless treasures. For everyone, being able to hear my grandparents’ voices as well as my dad’s was both heartbreaking and exciting. My stepsister created a video tribute that contained pictures from their life with my dad that we had never seen, and were truly remarkable.

My mom and dad met and married in Africa, and they both were journal-keepers, picture takers and filmmakers. One night we watched an hour-long dvd my dad narrated of AFrica adventures. We also had the journals from both parents.My mom loved revisiting that time in her life and my stepsisters were able to see a part of their dad’s life they didn’t know much about.

I could write a thousand words about the few days we spent in remember and reconnect mode, and the unexpected gifts of sisterhood and friendship that appeared, but I think my mom said it best, “Your dad would have been very proud with what you girls did. It was exactly what he would have wanted.”

3 Comments
  1. Cath–I’m so glad everything went so well!

  2. I’m so glad it went so well – and turned out better than expected!

  3. Cathy,

    reading this made me happy – such a wonderful way to strengthen the bonds with your family and create closure for the passing of your father.

    I hope I see you soon!

    best,
    Mary Ellen

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