My dad was diagnosed with lymphoma in late July. The prognosis was optimistic, and he started chemotherapy in early August. I spent the first week of September with him, taking him to his second round of chemo and making sure he was settled and comfortable on his own. Admittedly, never having been sick before, he was impatience with the process, wanting to feel better immediately. Last Tuesday morning, September 8, my father unexpectedly passed away in his sleep. The loss to myself, my family and his large circle of friends is unspeakable. Our hearts are broken.
Last Thursday afternoon, we gathered for a memorial service to celebrate my father’s life. The room was filled with our family, our extended family, and many, many friends across all generations. My sisters and I, my brothers-in-law, and two of my father’s closest friends gave tributes to this special man who touched and enriched so many lives.
This gives just a snapshot of my dad, but I want to share the words I wrote and read at his service.
I’m overwhelmed by all of the family and friends that have joined us here today to celebrate my dad’s life. It’s so comforting to have all those who loved him gathered together to share our sadness but also to remember the good things he brought into our lives.
My dad reveled in life’s simple pleasures: top among them, in no particular order, cars, sports, a passion for his favorite foods, and women.
He was fun to have for a father. Time spent with him usually meant some kind of adventure in search of one of these passions (well, not the women). I have so many memories that begin with “taking a ride”, if I was lucky, alone with him in his beloved Corvette, top down, but the ones in the family station wagon were memorable too. We might go out to Baskin & Robbins for ice cream or to a bakery to pick up a special loaf of rye bread or a box of white cream-filled donuts. On a Sunday morning, a particular treat would be to ride to the BagelMaster. This was the one and only time we were allowed to eat in the car, as long as we ate a bagel that was hot.
Even though my dad and I hadn’t lived in the same city for decades, we remained close, talking each week. When he needed help this summer, we spent some quality time together, more time than we had spent together in a long time, both in person and on the phone.
Dad was a wonderful brother. His relationship with our Aunt Alida served as a role model for my sisters and me. Just as with Richard and Alida, Jane, Jennifer and I are not just sisters, but friends who enjoy spending time together. What a gift to us.
My dad was a loyal friend. Look around at how many of his friends are here today. He kept up with friends from throughout his life: grammar school, summer camp, different jobs, different marriages. Once you were his friend, it was forever. He truly loved helping his friends, though he wasn’t as good at being helped. Even so, Dad’s friends went above and beyond in lending him love and support over the past couple months when he needed it most.
And he was good at falling in love. It took a long time, and multiple tries, but finally, he met the love of his life, Susan, on a tennis court in Florida. His devotion and tenderness towards her was heartwarming, and we feel lucky to have Susan as part of our family.
It’s hard to come up with the words for how much I will miss Dad now that he’s gone. A hole was ripped in the fabric of our lives. Over time, I hope to be able to mend that hole by weaving in stories about him, memories of a life well-lived and well-loved.
I love you, Dad, and I’ll miss you every day.
Thanks to everyone who has reached out with comforting words of sympathy. Your support gives me strength to move through the days ahead.
Wow! I’ve definitely fallen out of the blogosphere. I haven’t posted since last month’s Cottage Cooking Club. I need to get with the program. There’s plenty of cooking happening in my kitchen, but clearly not a lot of writing at the computer. I am sorely out of practice. I will try to get back into the game this fall.
Fall? It’s the end of August, so that means that summer is almost over. I feel it in the air with slightly chilly mornings and gradually shortening days. Fortunately, the harvest is still going strong, and we’ve been enjoying wonderful local produce from the local farms and farmers markets, and a few things from our backyard garden. Tomatoes and corn are always at the table right now and will be until the season is over.
For this month’s Cottage Cooking Club, the on-line group cooking through Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s River Cottage Veg, our inspiring leader Andrea from The Kitchen Lioness chose a menu of recipes that were hard to choose from. Here’s the rundown on what I picked, in the order I made them.
With the earliest of tomatoes, I threw together Tomatoes with Thai Dressing. This, like so many of the recipes in this book, showcases top-notch vegetables with just the simplest of accompaniments, here, a light Asian-flavored dressing. I wouldn’t say the dressing tasted very Thai to me, or all that Asian. It was refreshing, and I did like the fresh mint sprinkled on top. This quick salad was nice enough, though not interesting enough for me to make again.
Next up was the Leek and Cheese Toasties. This open-faced sandwich has the most amazing topping: sautéed leeks combined with thyme, cream, and Cheddar cheese. A lightly-toasted slice of bread is slathered with the cheesy leek spread, sprinkled with more cheese, and broiled until bubbling and browned. This was my favorite recipe this month. I made a double batch and ate it for lunch every day for a week. The topping is probably a bit too heavy for the hot dog days of summer, but I’ll remember this for the cooler weather and make this one again and again. Plus it reminded of my mother’s special sandwich, a “Bunni special”, the lunch we often requested or she made without us asking because it was so good and easy to put together. My mom’s sandwich was different, sliced cheese and tomato sprinkled with dried Italian herbs and broiled, but they were similar enough to make me smile.
Finally, I made Summer Garden Lentils Niçoise. If I haven’t mentioned it before, lentils are my favorite of all beans and legumes. I’ve seldom met a lentil dish I didn’t like. This lentil salad, which can be served warm or cold, includes my favorite flavors of summer: cherry tomatoes, olives, green beans, and red onion, pulled together with a mustardy vinaigrette. The cherry tomatoes were from my garden and the green beans from a local farm. Eggs transforms the salad to a meal. The first night, I chose to serve it warm with poached eggs on top. Yum! And, then the next day, eggless, this was the perfect side to the zucchini tart I had for lunch. I also liked adding herb stems to the lentils as they cooked. I threw in some basil because I picked too much from the garden. I will definitely make this combination again.
My favorite part of this group is checking out everyone else’s posts to both compare notes on the recipes I made and to figure which other recipes to add to my “must make” list. You can check out everyone’s links here.