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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Father's Day is Always Bitter - But It's Becoming a Bit Sweeter Each Year

My father passed away sitting in a chair, in his garden while I was 500+ miles away on a business trip in New York City during the late summer of 2006.

It was a surreal day as my brother called with ambulance updates speeding to the hospital, while I sped in a taxi against the flow of traffic to LaGuardia Airport to book an immediate flight out of the city.

While sitting at the gate waiting to board the plane, Matt called and told me that our dad had passed. Surreal.

Everyone around me was continuing to rush about, living their lives – while an important part of my life had passed away both literally and figuratively.

The weeks that followed were packed with funeral arrangements, decisions, task lists and such – with the reality of the loss becoming more solid with each day he was absent. The very questions I was being asked to answer on his behalf, I needed to ask of him - but he wasn't there. Surreal.

A bit of “comfort” that has always stayed with me, came from a co-worker who had lost her father 18 months prior and she said, "The pain doesn't go away, but it does dull and become less sharp over time." That was a profound truth she shared with me.

However, certain days the pain is a bit sharper and more bitter than other days - such as holidays like Father's Day.

But I have also found another profound truth.

My wife and daughters help make days like this one, more sweet and blessed than if I was alone. Additionally, a day like this helps me emulate and live out the best traits of my dad without the perceived missteps or foibles that always seem to accompany 20/20 hindsight.

That's why Father's Day is bitter (my past loss) and sweet (my current gain). And it gets sweeter each year that I witness the positive growth and transformation in my own daughters, which would not have happened if it was not for the positive impact and role of my dad, Salvatore Constantino VI.

Do you have thoughts of your own father you'd like to share? Please do!!


  1. Tor, thank you for sharing this. This is my second father's day without the physical presence of my Dad and your comments about it growing a bit sweeter really touched my heart. As I heard the church sermon today talking about the power and responsibilites of fathers in the lives of their children, I cried tears of joy because I relived all that he brought to my life. He has made my life infinitely sweeter because of his love. Happy Father's Day and thank you so much for sharing this.

  2. @Tracey, thanks for taking the time to read and share your personal experience. Obviously, the pain is proportional to the positive role our dads played in our lives. I can only hope to have the same impact on my own girls. Thank you for the comment.

  3. I just wanted to first say that I am very sorry for your loss. You have made some very good points. I am so thankful for the father I have. I am grateful that he is still alive, and very much a part of my life - even across the miles. I know the day will come that this won't be a true statement, and I cannot even fathom that at this point. Again, I am sorry for the events (you being away) that surrounded your fathers death, and for his loss in general - but I am happy to hear that, though there is the bitter aspect, you allow the peace from the sweet part to also touch your life. May Gods peace and joy be with you both now and always.

  4. @Laura, thanks for the kind words. God has played a critical role in the healing and has provided some profound insights into the grieving process that I'll share another. Thanks again!!

  5. Thank you, Tor... for sharing your memories. The day we are told of our loved ones passing is forever etched, always seeming as vivid as if it only just happened a moment ago. Our emotions become less raw with time, but only if we do not dwell in the memory for too long.
    My father passed away quietly in his sleep at the age of 55, 18 months after retiring from Delco Products and starting his own business as a custom golf club fitter. Golf was his passion and he was in the best shape of his middle aged years. I was 1400 miles away in Florida when I received that phone call from my mom. There were so many things I wish I had the opportunity to say to him. It's been 16 years since then.. and I still miss him terribly. The greatest sting now is his abscense in my childrens lives. My daughter was 3 then, and she swears she remembers him well, I hope she does. But I will always be sad that he never had the opportunity to meet my son. Today I posted an early photo of my father as my profile picture, and a dear friend commented on the strong resemblance my son bears to him. I hadn't seen it until she mentioned it, but I don't think I will ever be able to thank her enough for pointing it out to me.
    We carry on with our lives, but they always remain close by. Happy Fathers Day to you, and I hope you can see some of him in your children today as well.

  6. Happy Fathers' Day, Tor. I related to this post on many levels. I remember being in Wegmans after Dad had died and feeling lost that life was continuing as normal for so many people. I could not phathom how everyone could not feel the void that had been created. Time does heal, however, and there is peace in knowing that we were loved by such great men.

  7. @Rebecca, thanks for sharing those memories of your father. I do see shades of both my parents in my girls, and I've comforted by that daily. Thanks again for taking the time to read and respond!

  8. @Beeg, I never knew the similarities we shared in that respect; however, you concisely conveyed what I was feeling that day. Thanks for elevating the discussion - as always!

    PS - Please wish Jim a Happy Father's day for me, both of you are GREAT parents!

  9. It definitely helps to read other's perspectives on celebrating this day when their father is not alive to share. This is my first father's day since my Dad passed. I was lucky to be able to see him last year, just a few days before he left us. I remember the card I gave him: on the front was a little girl picking her nose, and on the inside it read, "If it weren't for you, Mom might have turned me into a lady!" Dad was rough around the edges, and often more of a friend than a father, but I never once questioned his love for me or his 200% support of my decisions. He made many mistakes, but he was the only Dad I'll ever have, and I thank God for him. I hope one day I'll see him in heaven. I really miss him.

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  11. @Cheryl, I'm sorry for your loss - I thought the first Father's Day after my dad's death was the toughest. Despite the "rough edges" that all our dads may have had, it definitely seems that you had a great relationship with yours - filled with love and support. Thanks for the comment!

  12. Here's an email I received on FB regarding the Father's Day blog post that the writer has graciously agreed for me to share. It was too good to keep for myself.

    Kimber VanRy June 20 at 10:25pm


    I recall your dad as a great gentle funny bear of a man, so your post made me recall all fathers lost, those who remain and those we have become.

    As for me, this may very well be my last Father's Day with my boys at hand as my soon to be ex-wife is off in St. Louis interviewing for a new job and a prospect of a new life with Sterling and Jules half a continent away.

    I'm fortunate to still have my father with me and I will see him next week during two weeks back home. But, we are all presence and memory at the same time as we leap generations and sons become dads and then we all march to dust.

    Life is water, and we all cup it to our hands and drink in full over and over til the stream runs shallow and our hands become dry. But then, then a rain comes, and the cycle gives birth anew and our life becomes story and out story becomes memory held dearly forever or at least until generations from now we become but lines and names in the annals. With this, our importance as fathers in the now rings so the much more important as our children drink of us and reap sustance from our emotion and thought.

    So, yes, this is indeed a happy Father's Day because we are here and we are now, no matter how fleeting in the days of our lives or in the memories to be told around campfires, family dinner tables and blogs yet unwritten.

    We as dads embrace the duty and the importance and the timeline for now, and hopefully that is enough to endow our children to remember as you did today.

    Much love, father and friend.


  13. Lisa Marie DavisonJune 22, 2010 at 8:17 PM

    Thanks for taking the time to post this. It took me a few days to decide to read it...but I'm glad I did. Your dad, both of your parents actually, played a very important role in my life. I respected them both for the parents they were when I was younger and the friends they were when I was older and would seek their advice. I'm so very proud to have known them and to be a part of your family for all these years. I stopped by the cemetary while home in NY in May...the sting is still there. I remember them on their birthdays, holidays and a variety of other days through out the year when i hear a song or a saying that reminds of them...and of course, your mom specifically when i watch "It's A Wonderful Life."
    Happy Father's day, beleated, to you Tor. You are a great day and a fine example of the legacy your parents leave behind. hugs and kisses to you, kim and the girls..

  14. @Lisa, thanks for the kind words. You knew my folks as well as anybody so your thoughts and comments carry a greater weight in my book. Thanks again for taking the time to read and share here.