It’s been four years since my dad passed away. It occurred to me that in the time I’ve written for Too Damn Young, I haven’t taken the time or space to just tell you about my dad. As I was thinking through what to say, I began to find it overwhelming. I couldn’t figure out how to express 19 years of my life with him in a way that made any sense. Then it occurred to me: the senses.
Ingrid Nilsen, who was featured on Too Damn Young last year, has a series on her YouTube channel called “Sense of Self,” where she asks people about the items in their homes to learn more about who they are. She asks her guests to choose five objects that represent the five senses that have stories and meaning behind them.
Without further ado: this is Dad.
The smell of books, old and new, reminds me of Dad. He had such a strong love for reading, and he instilled that love in me. Every time we came across a used book store, we would always make some time to aimlessly wander. These are a few of his books about Abraham Lincoln – he had a whole shelf full.
These are hinge pins from the Metropolitan Opera. When I was 15, right before he was diagnosed with cancer, my dad took my mom and me to New York on a business trip, which included a backstage tour at the Met. The hinge pins hold the corners of the stage sets together, and the tour guide told us it was good luck if you found some lying around on the ground. We each found one to take. The first year after my dad died, I carried one around in my purse, just as something tangible to hold onto when things got tough.
My dad LOVED his coffee really strong and really black. No fuss. He drank at least six cups a day. I don’t take it like he did, but I developed a taste for it because of him.
No genre of music was off limits to Dad, but jazz was definitely his favorite. He named several of our cats after jazz musicians (Fats Waller and Mingus.) The sound of jazz trumpets and basses coming through the crackle of a vinyl record sounds like home.
When my dad was growing up, he loved walking through the woods, fishing, and spending time outdoors. This gave him extensive knowledge of trees, fish, and birds. When we bought our house that had a bigger yard, it was not even a question that we would have bird feeders. The finches and the sparrows come every day, and on occasion, dad’s favorite woodpecker stops by to say hello.
I’ve missed my dad every day these past four years, and I won’t stop missing him, but I’m grateful for these pieces he’s left behind.