The last time I saw my dad was Christmas 1998. Less than 3 months later, I would get that dreaded phone call. He died suddenly at the age of 86.
In the days surrounding his funeral, I heard many stories from people about what a good man my father had been … many of these people I barely knew and some had travelled from nearby towns to pay their respects.
I’ve learned a lot about my dad in the years since he’s been gone. Each story of his kindness and generosity has touched my heart. I loved my father dearly, but I had only the faintest inkling of the impact he had left on others. His generosity had been personal and very discreet.
I recently received an email from a dear friend I had in high school. In the email was a picture of her taken with my parents – probably a summer of two before my dad passed away.
My dad had called her Froggie. It had been an endearment.
Froggie lived just down the street from us. We had classes together and played sports together – unlike me, she was actually a very talented athlete.
We had our first summer jobs together, and in our final year of high school, we spent many hours studying at my house … drinking endless cups of coffee and eating stale licorice.
After high school, we went in different directions … different cities, different careers, different lives. We have rarely seen each other over the years … but while my parents were still alive, Froggie would continue to drop in to see them whenever she was back in town.
I often heard about these visits from my mom. It meant a lot to them.
Froggie’s unexpected email was a stark reminder to me of how oblivious I had been in my youth to what was happening around me.
These were her words (with minor edits) …
I miss them Jo, so can only imagine how it is for you. I always say this and you know it to be true…. they were like my parents too …. especially when mom left us behind when I was just going into grade 9.
They always took such good care of us … extending favours and credit to my dad in the really bad years late 60s and early 70s, but after (mom) left, they certainly kept an eye out for (us).
Grade 13 would not have gone so well for me had it not been for you and our fabulous study nights at your place …
I had not known about the terrible car accident that left her father unable to work for months … and I had only a vague awareness of her mother having left them.
Froggie had always wrapped herself in laughter and good humour. I had no idea of the underlying sadness and hardship.
… but my dad had known, and more importantly, did something about it.
I’ve said it before in earlier posts … we don’t always know what kind of ripples we leave behind us. I am however getting a clear picture of the ripples my father made. He was one of the good guys.
… and the photo Froggie shared? It made me laugh out loud because it was Classic Dad … *fresh* from his garden!