For my Father

Posted on Oct 11, 2007. 22 comments

My Dad said he always wanted to write. He had the personality of a writer, silent, observing, full of wisdom and courage.
I'm lost at how to properly write about my Father. How can I possibly summarize his nearly 70 years of life in a few words?
There are the major points.
He was a minister for the Salvation Army, dedicating his life to God and Charity while living in near poverty for 20 years. He was compassionate and never judgmental.
He was married to my Mother for 51 years, he had three children.
He was my primary care taker when I was a child. He took me to the library, the park, to college with him when he attended.
He had an amazing golf swing.
People could sense authority and kindness in his spirit. Even the meanest kid in my third grade class, Chuckie, sought out my Dad when he got lost on a school field trip to a museum. We couldn't really go anywhere in public without people coming up to him. Sometimes the people were crazy, and sometimes they needed help. Sometimes they just wanted to make him laugh.
He knew just how to answer vanity questions like "Daddy, What's my IQ?" "Well," he said "Yours is about what mine is."
He was a silent helper, never a complainer, rarely taking credit for what he did. He helped me when I was a Nineteen when I thought my life was over at the end of a tumultuous relationship with an ill-fated artist. He stood quietly while I moved my belongings into his truck, crossing his arms when I started screaming, and held me when I cried later.
He went to every football game I marched in, and attended every band concert he could. He did right by me, going down to the Elementary School just to inform my Kindergarten Teacher she was in error about me not being able to tie my shoes, and how she ought change that perception for her records.
He had a special way about him that made people talk and open up about themselves.
He was kind.
He bought my first groceries when I moved 3 hours away to go to college. He was so proud to give me whatever he could, even if it was the shirt from his back. I'd like to selfishly believe he was that way because I was his daughter, but he'd have done that for anyone.
He struggled intensely with the mental illness that struck him at 42. I don't want that to define him though. He was still a person, still my Father, even with his suffering. Even so he'd tell me later how lucky he was to have roomed with both Jesus Christ and Napoleon during his penthouse suite stay at the hospital.
People liked him because he was charming. He and I shared a Professor at a local Community College although that sharing was separated by twenty years. The Professor called out the last day of class to me, to ask if my brother was Ivan Miller. Just because he knew it would make my Father laugh when I repeated the story later.
My Dad had an intensely deep and dry sense of humor, honed by the unsparing difficulties of life. He made sure to share his sense of humor with me so I wouldn't approach life cold and humorless. When my Mother and Father visited our home in California we went to Disneyland. One of my happiest memories was of him and my husband spinning my Mother and I in the teacups so fast we were giddy with laughter.
He walked me down the aisle. He told the Wedding Planner that my Mother taught me to think with my head and he taught me to think with my heart. And it is so true. My heart is bursting with pain that he's gone and I'll never hear his voice again. The ache of losing him in my thirties when I need him so much.
He'd have some pithy comment to shore me up about his death. What I would give to hear those precious words from him. I'd even relive the moments when he'd purposely call my boyfriends by the wrong name while flexing his muscles to remind them who was in charge. And how he denied those actions so many times for a laugh.
He was such a good man. Whose life can't be marginalized by a humble few sentences. I hope I can write in the way he could if life hadn't gotten out from under him the way it did.
He held my daughter this past July when we visited the East Coast. He let her curious fingers explore his expansive white beard, for not every Granddaughter is so lucky to have Santa Clause as their Grandfather.
The last memory I have is of him laughing. I want to hold that memory dear to my heart forever. Ivan Miller, I am so proud to be your daughter. I hope I make you proud with my simple words. I'll miss you until the end of time.


  • Posted by Chellie on Oct 16, 2007

    It’s amazing how the seemingly little things a person does everyday, makes the biggest impact. What a priviledge it is to recognize that and have it improve your life and those around you. My prayers are with you. Your father is now looking down from his real penthouse suite with Jesus.

  • Posted by karen on Oct 17, 2007

    michelle, i’m so sorry to hear of the loss of your father. i lost my parents when I was in my thirties too. I loved hearing about your father. you wrote about him beautifully. So, he wanted to be a writer, and knew how to say things ‘just so’ – now I know where you get your gift, and your wonderful sense of humor, too! How great that he had the chance to spend time and play with you and maya this summer. karen

  • Posted by Annie on Oct 22, 2007

    I feel like I know your dad, through what you’ve written. How lucky you both were to have each other. He sounds like an amazing man.

  • Posted by Susie on Oct 15, 2007

    I never did find the words when I lost my mother. She was only 63 and much too young to leave us. In your words, I heard the echo of my mother’s life in my own heart, washed over with tears, even all these years later. Thank you for such a moving eulogy. Your father will always live through you…

  • Posted by Kristy on Oct 15, 2007

    I can begin to express to you how sorry I was to hear your dad had passed. But to read about him this way makes me feel as if I know him. You really did a great job and I know you made him proud.
    Let me know if I can do anything for you.

  • Posted by Lori on Oct 12, 2007

    Sorry for your loss. I can’t imagine what you are going through.

  • Posted by francine on Oct 13, 2007

    It is the first time I’ve looked at your blog and reading this tribute resonates deeply, for I lost my father a few months back, and share much of what you write. Be strong; you know he will be with you always.Somewhere in the south of France, someone will be thinking of you a lot today.

  • Posted by Tana on Oct 13, 2007

    I’m so sorry Michelle. You did a beautiful job descrbing your life with him. My thoughts are with you {{{HUGS}}}

  • Posted by Wendy on Oct 12, 2007

    I am so sorry. Hold Maya and the Big Man and let them keep you safe and close, and know your Dad wouldn’t want you to feel so much unhappiness. But it sounds like he would understand you can’t help it. I am so sorry.

  • Posted by elan on Oct 12, 2007

    You’ve written a lovely tribute, we live on in the lives we’ve touched, it sounds like your Dad touched many.

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