Guest Post from Hilary of Feeling Beachie: Why She’ll Always be Daddy’s Little Girl


uncomfortable-lede
A snowtrooper, on a coin-operated iron binocular, atop Mill Mountain in Roanoke, Va.

Years ago, the father of two former players was killed when his auto shop was robbed.

I saw police lights at the shop as we headed home from pizza night at the in-laws’. We hoped and prayed for the best. The next morning, before kickoff on the opening day of soccer season, my sister’s teary call confirmed my friend Greg had been the one killed.

A good man lost is always a tragedy.

When last I saw him, Greg made repairs to my car I couldn’t afford and bought me lunch out of the back of a hatchback. He said in Spanish to the awesome cook and entrepreneur who’d pulled into his shop lot that he’d get the bill for my lunch – whatever I wanted.

Years later, the thing that strikes me is the permanence of his absence, to his kids.

And the overwhelming sense of sadness he must have felt in the moment he knew (did he?) that he’d not be around for his kids anymore. Today, Hilary has written an incredible post for us about losing her father at a young age.

It really strikes home for me. Forget sharks, lightning, and the raiders winning a super Bowl – what scares me most is checking out of this world before my children are all older than 100 years old.

Hilary writes an amazing blog called Feeling Beachie. The woman looks out onto the ocean from her bedroom window, people. That’s sick – not in a deranged way, but in the way that makes Tony Hawk so cool.

Enjoy her insight and incredible writing, and visit her blog. You’ll want to buy her book, Dangled Carat, too. And don’t forget that my birthday is next month.

hilary-father
photo credit: Go-tea 郭天 Riding in the milky way via photopin (license)

It is human nature, we take things for granted. We don’t appreciate things fully, especially when we are children. We think that every day will bring happiness. The worst problem that we think we will experience is a bad report card. And above all, we think that our parents will be around with us forever, watching us grow and become the people we were meant to be. I know that is how I felt …

But I was wrong. Bad things happen. Your father can die.

I was 14 when my childhood ended. One moment I was driving in the car with my dad, and then next minute he was in the hallway of my house having a stroke. I didn’t know what was happening, but I knew something was majorly wrong, so I called my mom at work and then 911.

 

My dad lived for three weeks and three days after his stroke. I remember the last time I saw him I went into the ICU with my aunt. He was laying naked, under an ice blanket with a temperature of 106. My aunt told me to make sure my dad knew I loved him. I held his hand and asked him, “You know I love you, right Daddy?” Somehow, despite the fever and everything else, he managed to nod his head yes.

Moments later he was gone. I kicked myself for not telling him more often that I loved him. I hated myself for not kissing him every day. Like so many kids I didn’t like to kiss, even though he loved it. I hated that I took the fact that he would be with me forever for granted.

My mom, who was always was and still is, my best friend, made sure for the years after to not only be my mom but my dad too. She did everything in her power keep my life as normal as possible. She shocked me time and time again, like when she told me to grab her car keys because she was going to teach me how to drive. This may not seem like much, but when I was little, my mom got nervous watching me on the merry-go-round. I never expected her to be able to do this, but she told me she wanted to. She said, “If Daddy was alive he would be teaching you, and I don’t want you to do without because he isn’t here.”

No matter how hard I try, I still don’t understand how so many years have passed. I miss my dad every day. But, what makes me especially sad is when I think about how much he missed out on. When he passed away, I was just a kid. Now, I am a 39-year-old woman. He didn’t get to experience so much of my life.

One very lucky, very happy girl

He never saw me graduate from high school or college. He didn’t see me jump for joy when I learned I passed the CPA exam, and my days of studying were over. He wasn’t there when I started my first job, and I proudly dressed in a suit for the very first time. He missed out on my subsequent career changes and promotions. When he passed away, I was in tenth grade, now I have been working at the same company, happily for 13 years.

More importantly, 10 years ago, my dad wasn’t able to hear about how I met the man of my dreams. Eight years ago my dad wasn’t able to know that this man made me his wife. Twenty-five years ago, when my dad passed away, I was an only child. Now thanks to my husband’s amazing family, I have brothers and sisters, nieces and nephews.

So much has happened. So many years have flown by. All in all, I am one very lucky, very happy girl. While I feel bad about what my dad missed out on, in my heart I know he didn’t miss out on anything. I truly believe he looks down at me and my mom each and every day, and that he has shared every moment with us.

I always was, and always will be his little girl.


Hilary Grossman is the author of Dangled Carat – one girl’s attempt to convert the ultimate commitment-phobic man into a husband with a lot of help from his family and friends. In her memoir, Hilary explains how the death of her father impacted her life and also affected her subsequent relationships.

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53 thoughts on “Guest Post from Hilary of Feeling Beachie: Why She’ll Always be Daddy’s Little Girl

    1. Laurie – thanks so much… you are right – regret does leave a sour taste in our mouths. But my mom told me at the time, and she was right, that you can always find something to be regretful about – especially after someone dies.

      1. Hi Hilary, yes life is full of regrets. We tend to take those we love for granted, and of course your Mom was right. Once they’re gone there’s not much you can do, only wonder.
        Laurie.

  1. Eli, your intro rings true with every parent. There’s nothing like becoming a parent to bring you face to face with your own mortality. Hilary, thank you for sharing this story with us. Beautifully written. I love how your mother stepped in to fill your father’s shoes the best she could as you were growing up. My mom is my best friend too, but I’m still a daddy’s girl at heart. Can’t wait to check out your blog and book. I love memoirs and yours sounds great!

    1. Nicole – I was very lucky that my mom was so amazing – I realize now how hard life was for her too at the time. But then, she didn’t show it. She just made me her focus… including doing things way outside of her comfort zone (teaching me how to drive) because she didn’t want me to suffer… I am so happy your mom is your best friend too – I love hearing that – such a great tribute to your family! I hope you enjoy Dangled Carat!

  2. My Dad died nine years ago and left behind my little brother, then 14, and little sister, then 9 (we had the same Dad, different Moms).

    I often wonder what how her life would have been different had Dad lived.

    Fast forward to today…..I am 57 years old with two little girls of my own, ages 10 & 6, in addition to two sons in their 30s.

    If I were to go to my Reward today, my sons would be fine. My Little Girls? Not so much I think.

    I am deeply touched by this story. It is beautiful. poignant, happy and sad all at once.

    Outstanding!

    Thank you, Eli for posting it and Hilary for writing something so wonderful.

    Did you know that tears taste salty?

    1. Fearless leader – Yep, I know that tears taste salty – I tasted them as I wrote this – I am sorry you tasted them too… I spent a lot of time wondering how my life would have been different if my dad lived too – I think that it is natural to do so. But as I got older I realized the difficulties, sadness and struggles shaped me into the person I am, and probably was meant to be. Your girls (and boys) are lucky to have you…

  3. I LOVE HER!!!
    sorry….little girl crush moment there because Hilary is several shades of awesome!
    Even though every time she writes about her dad, I get all weepy and can barely avoid the ugly cry – I forgive her for ruining my mascara because she writes so deeply from her heart. She has no filter -it’s just all there; raw and beautiful.

    Thrilled to see her in my favourite coach’s line up! 🙂

    1. Rorybore – you have no idea how giddy I get when you write about the girl crush / several shades of awesome. I LOVE YOU! So sorry about the mascara – but if it helps I had to write this post before I put mine on 🙂

  4. Thank you for sharing your story, Hilary. I am 35 years old and have reached the point in my life where I am starting to realize the mortality of my own parents. It honestly terrifies me. My husband lost his mother suddenly three years ago and even though we weren’t very close in life, I miss her more each day, for his sake, for the sake of our kids and for my own sake as well.

    1. mamarabia – I am so sorry about your husband’s mom. It is so hard when someone dies unexpectedly. It is funny, there are so many people in our lives that we don’t think of being so close to but when they are gone we realize how close we really are. Close isn’t about speaking everyday or seeing one another constantly…

  5. Eli, so happy that you have Hilary here today. She’s not only my bloggy friend but is a real life friend as well (has been for quite some time). Every time I hear this story I tear up and this time was no different.

  6. Wiping tears away here, Hilary. My father died when I was nearly four and it was very sudden. Often, I get upset about what he missed – pretty much my whole childhood and young adulthood, my husband, my kids. And my son looks like him.

    More often, I’m pissed about what I missed. I’m coping with that, through watching my little girl embrace her new four-years-old status. She has lived longer than I ever have with her father still intact. It’s a bit of an insight to me at what might have been, and what wonderfully is. Just is.

    I’d like to believe he sees it all, the way your father does too. Thank you.

    1. Tamara – I am so sorry for your loss. Losing a parent is so difficult at any age, but the younger you are the worse it is… I can’t imagine being 4 having this happen. It is amazing you have memories. I think you have every right to be pissed about what you missed out on – I think if we are honest – we all are. The measuring of the time – I know that feeling well. When I turned 28 it was very difficult – knowing that the same amount of time my dad was with me he was gone…

  7. What a very moving and sad article. It is good to see that you have made the most of life and yet still hold the memories dear. The fact that you were able to tell your father that you loved him just before he passed away is a very special and precious moment. His final thoughts were full of the love you had for him.

    1. The guy – thanks so much… I really did try to make the most of my life – I wanted him to be proud 🙂 I am so thankful that my aunt made sure I told my dad how much I loved him. I can’t imagine not having those last moments with him now…

  8. What an amazing story. We’ve been blogging friends with Hilary for some years now, and we are so very proud of her — just as we know her dad is as he watches over her.

  9. What a writer! I got chills reading it. Such a sad thing to lose a parent at such a young age – I can’t imagine. Makes you really want to cherish every moment we have with our parents – and our kids. I lost my Dad when I wasn’t too young (30) – but not nearly old enough – I am always sad that he does not know my kids, my husband, my life. But I do believe that he is up there watching it all. I know your Dad is too and has been with you for every moment.

    1. Leah – thank you so much… You weren’t too young, but you weren’t too old either. There is never a good time to lose a parent – there is always a big void and empty space in your heart and your life. but I totally agree that our dads are up there looking down at all of us and smiling…

  10. {Melinda} Such a sweet, poignant post. I lost my mother in my early 30s. I was just thinking the other day of how she’d missed out on watching my children growing up. She always encouraged my writing and she’d missed out on watching me get my first book contract recently. I wish I could share those moments with her here. I look forward to the day when I’ll see her again in heaven. I’m so sorry you lost your daddy in your teen years — I can’t imagine how hard it was to lose him at such a pivotal age. ❤

    1. Mothering from Scratch – thank you – it really doesn’t matter how old we are when a parent passes. The pain and the loss is so profound… I know that your mom was smiling down at you, so proudly, when you got your book contract… CONGRATS on that!

  11. Wiping away tears. Eli, I am so sorry for your friend, and his family, and his friends. He sounds like he was an amazing man, taken far too young. It’s so hard to hear stories like that, because they’re absolutely senseless. Why do things like this happen?
    Hilary, how difficult it must have been to lose your father at such a young age. I can’t imagine having to say goodbye to my children now, as teenagers, knowing I wouldn’t see their high school graduations or weddings or grandchildren. Memories keep our loved ones alive for us, and in the end, that’s so important to have. Thank you for sharing your story with us. I know your father is looking down on you and sharing all those special moments in your life.

    1. Dish – thanks so much…. It was incredibly difficult – my dad missed out on so much. But I like what you said about memories keep our loved ones alive. I am sure I have much better memories of him from my childhood because I had to hold tight onto them because I knew I couldn’t make new ones..

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