My father’s love

On April 27th, I lost my father. It’s a deep sadness that I’ve only experienced once before when my grandmother passed, but this feels heavier and more profound. I always knew my father’s time was limited and his passing would come. I didn’t expect it to be so sudden.

I tried writing this on the day I flew out to Arizona, but words weren’t easy. Day 1 came with a lot of crying and grieving. Day 2 was slightly better, but saying goodbye to my husband and son before heading out to Arizona nearly broke me. The waves of sadness came like the turbulence on the plane. I swung from a relaxed and almost weightless feeling with normal breathing to waves thrashing me around from a simple memory. My head hurt from crying so much, and there was nothing I could do other than lean into those I love and lean into God for guidance and comfort.

My father was a good man. He came from humble parents and led a simple life that always put family first. When he married my mom and adopted my sisters and me, we became a family. I was only six when he became our father so he has and will always be the only father I had in my life. One of my earliest memories was sitting in a judge’s chamber answering if I wanted to accept him as my father. I don’t have any emotions tied to that day but the one day that I do remember is going into school learning how to write my new last name, Kinney. My biological name, Rapach, stills hold a place in my timeline but it does not hold any weight like my maiden name, Kinney.

As I reflect on my father’s life, I can’t help but think of his generosity. He would do anything within his power to help anyone. He didn’t make much money driving trucks, but he did what he could. My father took on so many roles when we were growing up. He was an umpire in softball. An active marching band parent. A spectator of field hockey and tennis. A chess partner. He was our bowling instructor, captain, competitor, and biggest fan. Beyond these ordinary never-ending activities of three girls, the most important thing he gave us were his unconditional love and a secure family.

While going through my teenage years, I was not an easy teen – not as challenging as my oldest sister, yet not as good as my middle sister. I learned a lot of lessons from them, and I think my father knew this because our conversations were different than those he had with my sisters. This isn’t to say I didn’t test his patience because I did, but I also knew I could call him at any hour for help. And that’s the ultimate role of a father, isn’t it? To be there.

I don’t know who I’d be if I didn’t have him when I was growing up. I don’t know how to do life without him just yet. He’d say I ‘no longer need him’ because he did his job well, but I will always need him. What I need to learn is how to look for him in the small and big moments of life. I keep telling myself that if I pay attention more to this world around me, I’ll see that he isn’t gone forever.

As I’m sitting outside writing this with the trees blowing a cool breeze, I think of how a family is like these trees – broken branches, small branches sprouting from the strong trunk while others are sprouting out from limbs, brave branches reaching for the sky in all directions, old bark slowly peeling ready to return to the ground, closely stacked branches providing a place to shelter, a sturdy and fully exposed trunk, and unseen roots stretching far wide giving water and nutrients keeping the whole tree grounded – keeping it all alive. It makes me think of all the branches of my family providing me with strength, protection, and love.

As I said, I knew his end was coming, but that small child in me thought he’d be here forever. The adult in me knows that the love he blessed with me these last 43 years will last forever in my heart. I miss you a lot, Dad.

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Writer. Teacher. Water, tea, & dark chocolate sustain me. I have an addiction to journals and pens. I love hiking and spending as much time as possible with family and friends. "If you are not failing, you're not trying."

One thought on “My father’s love

  1. Thanks for sharing your process and reflection, Denise. It’s good to know more about him and your family. Your piece reminds me the time we spend as parents forges our kids’ minds and hearts as they take on the world.


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