It’s tough to put into words how it feels for this milestone to arrive; One year has gone by since he’s passed. Although it may sound like a cliche figure-of-speech, but I can truly say that there has not been a day gone by that I have not thought about him. Some days it is all consuming, others it’s a surge that comes in quick and fades out slowly.
We all miss him dearly, but what was unexpected to me was how much I miss his voice. I remember that when he called me on the phone, I would answer and he would greet me with “Hi, this is Horst”… as if I were a work colleague. I always got a kick out of that, and would actually laugh out loud when he did it. A few months after he passed I had called the home phone at my mom’s house, and his voice was still on the machine. I called back again to listen once more. I had planned on trying to get it recorded onto my cell phone… but did not get around to it before I accidentally erased it. I was helping my mom change out a light switch in the house, which required me to shut off the breaker. The outgoing message was erased from the answering machine. I’m sure we have some videos around that have his voice on them for us to hear again.
One thing for certain is that we have plenty of photos of him in our family archive, as well as all of my own photos of him. But, we also miss his creative and witty photography that he loved to share. The grandkids will have many, many photos of him to look at while we tell them all the great stories about him. My daughter, who is now 15, will always know her Papa because she was the only grandkid for over 11 years.
My son will most likely only know him through photos, so I’m extra grateful that there are so many of them. He knows who Papa is when we point out a photo of him.
Over the past several months, I’ve become aware of the different things that remind me of him. These are some of the things that are a constant, and happy reminder of him:
- Eat crispy frying pan scraps: He was notorious for picking out the charred-up pieces from the pan on the stove. I’ve found myself doing this on many occasions.
- Bed time back rubs: Every night when Brody goes to bed, I sit next to him and gently rub his back as he drifts off to sleep. This is one of the most vivid memories I have as a young child. I can still feel his course fingers on my back.
- Fascination with how things work: It must be the engineer in him that got instilled in me. Brody and I can sit for hours and watch “How It’s Made” or “How’d The Do It” on television.
- Light fixtures: He worked for 45+ years as a lighting design engineer. I am always looking at the lighting fixtures wherever I go.
- 10k running races: He was a natural runner and loved to do 10K races. I ran a few of these with him when I was younger.
- Sand dunes: When we lived in Australia, he made my sister and brothers and me custom sleds with formica bottoms. The nearby beach had huge (probably not as big as I thought they were) dunes that we would ride down. We were the envy of all the other kids there.
- VW beetles: He loved these cars, over the years owned 8 different ones (plus other VW models).
- Kites: I remember he had this huge blue custom made kite that was about 6 feet across (to the best of my childhood recollection). It was so cool to watch him fly it. My mom gave me a kite that she had gotten for him, and just last week I finally figured out how to assemble and fly it (there were no instructions with it).
Surfing: He surfed in the cold winters of New York with a thick wetsuit and gloves. And in Australia where he told me he’d once seen a shark while surfing (he confessed that he’d never told my mom about that for fear that she’d never let him go surfing again). I remember him taking me to garage sales for my to buy my first surfboard, and the first time I caught a wave on it in Redondo Beach, CA… I think I was around 11 or 12. He was standing on the shore with my oldest brother, and I could hear him shouting out “Go Neil!!!” as I rode the small wave. Like it was yesterday.
- The beach: When my siblings and I were kids, it seemed as if we were constantly at the beach.
- Strange looking clouds: Whenever there are odd clouds in the sky, I wonder how he would try to capture a photo of them. Always with a smile on my face.
Thanks for reading, and remembering our Papa with me.