Sharing stories of my father

The loss of my father and my children’s grandfather is nearly unbearable
The loss of my father and my children’s grandfather is nearly unbearable

RUMFORD  – I have learned this year that the first of everything is very hard. I am told it will get better, but will it?

Father’s Day without my father is an unbearable thought,  but it is true and I must learn to live with it. Last Thanksgiving Day, my father died after being struck by a vehicle; he suffered a devastating traumatic brain injury. The smartest, most generous, proudest human being I have ever known was taken away from our family in an instant. Emotions I have never felt before are now ever-present as I navigate the path to a “new normal.”

As I struggle to find my way, I also must help guide my children – my daughters, almost 7 and  9 – who need to see life in its most positive way. I want them to remember the man who they dearly loved; I don’t want them to focus on their sadness because he is gone.

So, on this Father’s Day, I will tell my children stories. Stories of my father – my biggest cheerleader– who gave me the best advice about my career. Stories of the man who was so much fun to dance with at weddings and bar/bat mitzvah receptions … stories of the man who came on my field trips when I was a child, and who introduced me to Lincoln Center’s New York Philharmonic and shared his love of theater.

I will tell them about the times he would make a last minute drive to Rhode Island from New York – three hours each way – on one of his days off just to see them, his granddaughters. I will tell them how he never missed any of their birthday parties or dance recitals; when my older daughter Zoey, then 2, asked him to run on a floor trampoline at her party with him, he did, just because she asked him.  I will tell them how my younger daughter would fall asleep next to him every year after Thanksgiving dinner while they watched TV together. I will tell them how they just made him happy – every second of every day – and that is how he would want us to be. It can be very hard to do so, especially when he was such a large presence in our lives.

But every day, especially on Father’s Day this year, I’m going to try.

WENDY JOERING, community concierge for the Jewish Alliance of Greater Rhode Island, lives in Rumford with her husband and their two daughters.