Wednesday, January 27, 2021

My Dad, Excerpt from Arranging a Dream


My dad

Hello and welcome to the Focused on Story blog! I am so glad you are here today.

 This week is my father's birthday. Dad would be 104 years old. He's been gone for 45 years, but I still miss him.

My memoir, Arranging a Dream: A Memoir, is about our life-changing year when my husband, my one-year-old daughter and I moved from family and friends and the security of two paychecks to West Michigan to become owners of a flower shop and greenhouses. In March of that year, 1976, my dad passed away. His passing turned my world sideways. Not only life-changing but also life-challenging. Dads and daughters have a special bond, and we certainly did.

I did not think I could move on from that horrible grief and despair that comes with losing a loved one. Those who have lost their family and friends to COVID come to mind as I write this. Believe me, you will conquer the grief and leave it behind, but the love and memories of your loved one will remain forever.

This excerpt from the memoir recounts how I shook off the sadness and found the strength to move on. 

Here is an excerpt from that chapter, My Dad.

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir

Arranging a Dream: A Memoir, Excerpt Chapter 16, My Dad

After we returned to Fremont, I went through the motions as a wife, mom, and shopkeeper, but I was in a daze. I was still in shock as I worked through the grieving process. Because we were newcomers to Fremont, we weren’t close to anyone. Ted and I only had each other for support, binding us closer together. 

At the craziest times, I would find myself bursting into tears standing in the grocery store aisle, working at the design table or fixing lunch for Sara. Often, I would go to the phone to call Dad to share something about my day, only to realize he would never be on the other end of the phone again. 

Anger filled my life. Anger with God for not saving Dad. With my dad for leaving us. He didn’t even have the chance to come up to Michigan to see our new place or learn about our floral business or play with Sara. 

He was gone. 


A month later, I was in the kitchen sipping coffee and finding it difficult to make myself get going. Instead, I wallowed in my sorrow. I heard Sara singing in her crib in her room off the kitchen. The refrain of one of her self-composed songs filled with gibberish carried through to the kitchen as her voice sang louder and louder with every note. I heard her stand up, so I snuck over to the doorway and peeked in. She was hanging onto the rail of her crib, dancing. When she spotted me watching her, she thrust her arms up in the air and yelled, “Mom, mom, mom” and flashed that dazzling smile. My heart filled with joy knowing, in her own one-year-old style, she was celebrating the morning and anticipating a new day ahead. 

Our daughter, Sara

Looking into her happy blue eyes, I realized I had to move on, if not for my sake, at least for Sara and Ted. I decided I would make it through one year without Dad; and then I’d be okay.


The best way to keep my dad’s memory alive and to honor him is to remember all he had instilled in me while growing up and to practice those lessons. He always pointed out the beautiful things surrounding us in nature like a wide-open prairie sunset, the glitter of the sun on a spider web, and the way the leaves on the trees flipped over before a storm. 

He never gossiped about anyone or badmouthed a person. He never swore, well, except the time when my brother’s class ring was not correct, and the shopkeeper would not do anything to make it right. 

A sense of mischief popped out in his odd sense of humor. He’d go for coffee at Turner’s, the local greasy spoon located on Route 66, where they called him Digger. He carried a measuring tape in his pocket to measure up anyone who gave him a hard time, being sure he would order the right sized casket for the jokester. He cared about people and appreciated the simple things in life. I wanted to be just like him as a business person, friend, and parent. But most of all, I wanted to teach Sara the same lessons by example.

Virtual Book Tour 2020-21

 The Virtual Book Tour Continues: I visited with multi-genre author and generous supporter of authors, Janet Lane Walters, over the weekend. Click her name below to stop over at her blog, The Eclectic Writer.

 Janet Lane Walters 

Upcoming stops are scheduled with Helen Henderson, Ellen Jacobson and Pat Garcia. I'll have their links next week so you can pop-over and visit!

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Thank you!!


Pat Garcia said...

I love this excerpt. It is heartwarming and made me think of when my dad and mother died. Going through the valley is difficult, but if we keep walking and not give up hope, a light begins to shine.
All the best.
Shalom aleichem

Marsha said...

Hey, J.Q. Such a moving post. You've captured in words what we all feel when we've lost a loved one. Thank you. I've shared. :)

Joylene Nowell Butler said...

I lost my dad in 1980 and sometimes it feels as if the grief is even more crippling now. Thanks for sharing this very tender excerpt, Janet.

Computer Tutor said...

Good excerpt, Janet. Gives a good sense of the book.

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