two years ago today

two years ago today | the merry gourmet

Dear Dad,

Writing you a letter this way – by blog post on the internet – may be a bit silly, but you and I have always been the letter writing sort, and writing letters (or blog posts) is so cathartic. I know you can’t read this, but it’s good for me to get the words out. Or maybe you can read this. You’ve always been able to do just about everything you ever wanted to do, and if you wanted to read this, I believe you’ll find a way.

It was two years ago today – the 27th of February, 2014 – that you died. I remember being angry with you that you waited until we had all left the hospice, waited until the early dawn hours when we were all sleeping. I wish you’d waited until we could have kissed your warm cheek one last time. I wish you’d waited until Tina arrived from Chicago. She really wanted to see you one last time.

I often tell myself that you’re watching us from wherever you are right now. I like the idea of that. When I dream, you’re frequently there, and I wonder if this is your way of letting me know you’re okay. Usually in those dreams, I’m trying to go with you somewhere, and I can’t quite get there before waking up. Or, I’m trying to speak to you and can’t get the words out in a way that you can hear them. But always in my dreams, you are able to walk again and you look whole and healthy, with no evidence of the strokes or the dementia that left you debilitated. And always, you smile at me in a way that lights up your entire face.

The kids are playing basketball at the park with Sam as I write this. You’d be proud of how they are turning out. Maddie is nearly as tall as I am. They’re both beautiful, inside and out, and they are bright and curious. You would absolutely love spending time with them. You all would have the most wonderful conversations, and I know they would love to hear your stories about growing up in Louisville. Maddie might drive you crazy when she rolls her eyes at you, but I’d remind you that she’s in 6th grade and that is almost part of the uniform. Oliver really only remembers you being sick and in the wheelchair, but Maddie remembers you as you were, when you were whole, when you were you.

I want to tell you about things that you have missed. Like, that the Gators have a new football coach as of the 2015 season – Jim McElwain. The team did so much better under him than they’ve done in the two or three years before. You’d have liked watching the wins over Tennessee and Georgia in particular. We gave up one set of season tickets – the Touchdown Terrace ones – and now sit where you and Mom sat – though we did move the seats down a bit. We don’t like being in the nosebleed zone, even though I know how partial you were to those original seats (sorry).

I was promoted last year, from assistant professor to associate professor. It was a big deal to me, something I worked really hard for. I was also the first woman in the history of my division (oncology) to ever be promoted. I know you would have been so proud. I would have loved to have felt your chest-crushing hug after I told you in person. I’m certain there would have been one.

You’d be all worked up if you knew what’s going on in politics right now. Listening to you argue with your friends and with Uncle Ken about presidential candidates would be such great entertainment. I would give anything to hear your thoughts on Donald Trump. It makes me chuckle just thinking of the profanity you’d use.

We’re planning some great trips this year. Sam and I are spending a long weekend in Charleston, and we’re taking two family trips with the kids. We’re heading to New Orleans in the spring and to London and Paris in the summer. Last year, we vacationed in Glacier National Park and Banff. You probably heard me tell Sam several times, “Dad would have loved this.” I’m sure you’ll hear me say it again, especially when we visit Saint-Chapelle in Paris. I’m told the stained glass is stunning, and I know that you will be on my mind as I stand in that church, looking up.

Since you died, Mom has struggled. It’s not been easy for her, not with the caregiving she does for grandmother and with the issues that come up with Clay. And issues always come up. I’m not sure you’d be pleased at the way things have turned out. I’m not, but there’s nothing I can do about it.

I want you to know that I’m okay, though. I’m dealing with grief in my own way. I thought it would get easier over these past two years, but really, it just gets…different. I never thought losing a parent would be such a hard thing to bear. Even though I’m surrounded by family and friends who are supportive and care about me and are there when I need something, I feel very, very alone without you here. I miss you.

I love you, Dad. Maybe I’ll see you tonight in my dreams? I really hope so.


Merry Jennifer

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47 Responses to “the most interesting man in the room”

  1. 1

    Oh, MJ. What a beautiful, beautiful tribute to your father and to his life. I lost my mother in 2002, and not a day goes by that I don’t miss her terribly. It sounds as if you have many wonderful memories and stories about your father, and thinking of those will certainly help ease the pain. *hug*

  2. 2
    Patty Hetrick — February 28, 2014 @ 12:18 pm

    Such a wonderful story of your father’s life, Merry-Jennifer. Sending prayers to you all. May your pain be replaced with the joy of all the memories you shared together.

  3. 3
    Alysa — February 28, 2014 @ 12:20 pm

    What a beautiful tribute. Thank you for sharing his memory with us.

  4. 4
    Macaroni Mama — February 28, 2014 @ 12:43 pm

    Beautiful, Merry Jennifer. He always WAS the most interesting man in the room.

  5. 5
    Christine (Cook the Story) — February 28, 2014 @ 12:47 pm

    He sounds like an amazing man, M. J. Thanks for sharing his story. Hugs, sweet friend. I’m thinking of you.

  6. 6
    Liz Larkin — February 28, 2014 @ 1:02 pm

    Thank you for sharing your dad with us, MJ. A bittersweet, beautiful post. It reminds me of the movie Big Fish, about the life of an extraordinary man. So very sorry for your loss. XO

  7. 7
    Gail — February 28, 2014 @ 1:08 pm

    Thank you, MJ, for sharing your dad with us. As long as you write about him, and share stories about him, a part of him is never ever dead and gone.

    Sending you the biggest hugs ever.


  8. 8
    Di — February 28, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. I believed you might have had his story in you all along. I am sure you will continue to give it a voice. I wish you well on this new chapter of healing in your life. With time and distance it gets easier, and better.

  9. 9
    Kathy - Panini Happy — February 28, 2014 @ 1:09 pm

    I stopped what I was doing when I saw your link to this post, because I knew it would be more important for me to read than anything else I was in the middle of. Thank you for sharing your father’s story, and I’m so thankful that you have this platform (and associated community!), especially during this time. What an amazing man, and what an amazing daughter. Much love to you!

  10. 10
    Lisa @ Garnish with Lemon — February 28, 2014 @ 1:33 pm

    Merry Jennifer-I am so sorry for your loss. What a beautiful memoir you have written about him. Sending you wishes of peace during this difficult time.

  11. 11
    Vidhya — February 28, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

    My heartfelt sympathy…

  12. 12
    Carrie Oliver — February 28, 2014 @ 1:36 pm

    MJ, My guess is that you will always miss him and all that made him unique. But I think you’ll always feel him with you, too, and that Di is right, that you’ll find yourself continuing to tell his story as it evolves with time.

  13. 13
    Judy Turner — February 28, 2014 @ 1:39 pm

    Merry Jennifer — Thank you for sharing your memories of your father. I knew him to be so articulate, funny, and an immensely talented artist. Fort White has lost a wonderful friend. Keep him close in your heart.

  14. 14
    Jayne — February 28, 2014 @ 2:00 pm

    What a lovely post about your father, thank you for sharing. One day those memories will make you smile. For now it’s hard and I’m so sorry for your loss. Hugs xx

  15. 15
    Denice Olig — February 28, 2014 @ 2:30 pm

    Beautiful sentiments.
    Heaven will be glad to see him coming.
    Healing thoughts to you and your family.

  16. 16
    Nancie McDermott — February 28, 2014 @ 3:02 pm

    Oh, what a wonderful, amazing, handsome, intelligent, fascinating, unique, determined, creative, generous and passionate man. Hail to the Mayor, the entrepreneur, the sweetheart, the Daddy, the storyteller, all that was and all that he did. I have loved reading about how he went out, though it made me sad. I loved reading how he came in and how he used his time here. I love seeing him smile, young and old. Grateful to have known him here, especially now, caught up on the Chapters I missed. Take good care.

  17. 17
    Rosemary — February 28, 2014 @ 3:12 pm

    Beautiful memories of an amazing man, I am so sorry for your loss and I am keeping your family in my prayers.

  18. 18

    No words MJ. A beautiful tribute to your dad. He was a lucky guy having a daughter like you. All the hugs and love in the world. XO

  19. 19
    Renée J. (RJ Flamingo) — February 28, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

    What an incredible man your father was, MJ. The lesson of his life and legacy seem to be “Do what you love, and love what you do.” In that, you make him and his memory, proud. He will always be with you. Hugs and healing vibes are sent to you and your family. xox

  20. 20
    Kate McDermott — February 28, 2014 @ 3:38 pm

    Such heartfelt and beautiful words to remember him by. Thank you for sharing him with all of us today. My thoughts are with you and your family.

  21. 21
    Nineteen — February 28, 2014 @ 5:06 pm

    So, sorry for your loss. I lost my dad last year after suffering from dementia as well. It was hard to see him slowly drift away. Your words comfort me a year after. What a lovely piece. May peace be with you and your family.

  22. 22
    Geek Knitter — February 28, 2014 @ 5:54 pm

    Such a moving tribute you’ve shared with us. Thank you for telling your father’s story. My heart goes out to you and your family.

  23. 23
    Nancy Collins — February 28, 2014 @ 6:06 pm

    My regret is that I never had a chance to meet him but we did get to know each other through emails. His death saddens me terribly and I must extend my deepest sympathy to you and your family, especially, your mother Merry.

    May he now rest in peace, leaving his last days of agony behind. You have left a special tribute to him with your words. God be with you and yours.

  24. 24
    annelies — February 28, 2014 @ 6:16 pm

    What a character. I love that he never stopped being mayor and that he pursued his passion for stained glass and made it his industry. He gave back to the people around him and dedicated himself to his community. From the stories you shared, he lived his life well. I’m so sorry for your loss. As someone who lost her dad four years ago (who was quite the character too), I know that particular pain and grief. I send you a big hug. Hang in there MJ.

  25. 25
    Brooke — February 28, 2014 @ 7:22 pm

    Thank you so much for this beautiful profile of your father. Thank you for your beautiful story telling and giving us the opportunity to get to know your delightful father, the life that he lead, and the wonderful things he did. Your memory and tribute of him makes him live on a little in all of us. Thank you.
    Hugs and kisses to you. Thank you for continuing his legacy of making the world a more beautiful place.

  26. 26
    Alice Martin — February 28, 2014 @ 8:00 pm

    A sign outside the Bar B Que restaurant in Fort White said, “Rest in Peace….Mayor George”. So many people will miss him.

  27. 27
    Jill Lucas — February 28, 2014 @ 10:42 pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss. I have greatly admired your eloquence in writing about your dad. I hope you’ll find comfort in a lifetime of happy memories.

  28. 28
    Carol Sacks — February 28, 2014 @ 10:46 pm

    Such a moving tribute. He was fortunate to have a daughter who so clearly cherished and revered him.

  29. 29
    Liren — February 28, 2014 @ 11:07 pm

    MJ, indeed, he was a most interesting man, I would have loved to have had a chance to chat with him and hear his stories. But more so, he was an amazing father, I can sense the love and respect you have for him, not just with this beautiful post, but in everything you write and in everything you have shared about him. I send you my sincerest hugs.

  30. 30
    Kevin — March 1, 2014 @ 3:47 am


  31. 31
    Paula — March 1, 2014 @ 7:36 am

    Of everything you have written on this site, this one is the most poignant, beautiful and important. Your father’s presence will remain in many hearts and in many rooms, spoken of often and fondly remembered by all those who knew him. My heart goes out to you and to all of them. Your Dad is in a place of peace and bursting with pride right now.

  32. 32
    Flavia — March 1, 2014 @ 8:30 am

    This is a beautifully written tribute, MJ. I am keeping you, your mother and your family in my prayers. May you all find comfort in the wonderful memories of your father. Much love to you, Flavia xo

  33. 33
    Eileen — March 1, 2014 @ 10:52 am

    I’m never very good with words at a time like this, but please know that my thoughts are with you and your family and I think this tribute to your father’s life is beautiful.

  34. 34
    jacquie — March 1, 2014 @ 11:18 am

    what a beautiful post about a wonderful man by his loving daughter. Thank you for sharing him and yourself with us. My sympathies are with you and your loved ones.

  35. 35
    Robin Schatz — March 1, 2014 @ 11:27 am

    My father, too, was always the most interesting man in the room, although he wasn’t gregarious like your dad (except around family and close friends). And like your parents, my parents shared an amazing love story; my father adored my mother until the day he died. I lost my dad nearly 4 years ago, and my mother a year ago today. I miss them both tremendously. My deepest sympathies for your loss.

  36. 36
    Katy — March 1, 2014 @ 12:28 pm

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful tribute to your father!
    God’s blessings and love to you and yours.

  37. 37
    BC Pitcher — March 1, 2014 @ 5:44 pm

    You have so lovingly and bravely shared this long, sad walk with your father. It has been an honor to follow this journey, and with many of your loyal readers, you are in our prayers and we join you in celebrating your bigger than life father and his huge capacity for love.
    I look forward to following your journey to brighter days as your grief eases into a “scrapbook” of all the wonderful memories you shared a glimpses of in this morning’s post.

  38. 38
    Sharon — March 1, 2014 @ 8:09 pm

    I loved this tribute plus in the picture of him as an older man you can really see the essence of a younger man with him his love shined through.

  39. 39
    Laura — March 2, 2014 @ 11:03 pm

    What a lovely, touching tribute. *hugs*

  40. 40
    Kathryn — March 3, 2014 @ 4:36 am

    This was a wonderful tribute to a remarkable man. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  41. 41
    thyme (Sarah) — March 3, 2014 @ 10:33 pm

    It’s funny your story intersects with mine right now. My in-laws just left our home after a week’s stay. They are the only parents I have known. We noticed my father-inlaws rapidly declining health. We are saddened by it and very needy for more time together. Your words are beautiful in the way you describe your father. It is so wonderful that you are capturing his spirit through your writing. I am so very sorry for your loss.

  42. 42
    vagabonde — March 7, 2014 @ 10:02 pm

    What a wonderful man with so many talents – your father certainly was the most interesting man in the room. Your post describing him is so warm and loving. I am sorry for your loss and grief.

  43. 43
    lucy — March 10, 2014 @ 1:46 pm

    Merry Jennifer, I am so sorry for your loss. What speaks to my heart through your writing is how very lucky you have been to have been the daughter of and loved by a great man. My heartfelt sympathy to you and your family.

  44. 44

    An absolutely beautiful tribute! I am truly sorry for your loss.

  45. 45
    Scott W — March 11, 2014 @ 11:38 am

    This was a wonderful article, it brought tears to my eyes.

  46. 46
    Ryan S — April 23, 2014 @ 9:40 pm

    Your dad was indeed a warm, funny, unforgettable man.

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