My father passed away on October 20th, 1991. I was 21 years old, my brother 18, both of us far too young to really understand the magnitude of him leaving us forever. The older I get the more I miss him every single day. I imagine all of the conversations we would have. Every time I read a good book I want to share it with him so that we could talk about it afterward (he was a writer). Every milestone in my children’s life I want to share with him, knowing he’d be a proud grandpa. And I engage with every endeavor in my adult life with the thought that I would hope to make him proud of me as well.
He was by all accounts genuinely kind, gentle, extremely witty, and fiercely intelligent, a Ph.D. scholar of European history who also taught creative writing at Beaver College (now Arcadia University) and was the director of their Honors Program. I do recall everyone in my family being pleasantly startled at the sheer number of people, past students, colleagues, neighbors, friends, and family who turned up for his memorial service ~ he was truly loved. For his eulogy I read an excerpt from Winnie the Pooh, where Pooh reaches out to touch his friend, just to make sure he was real.
My father lived a grand total of 18,411 days, and he was 50 years old when he died. Today I have passed that lifetime total of days by one, and it is the most poignant day I have ever experienced. I have no desire to stop the steady flow of tears in his memory, and it seems like everywhere I turn I encounter another reminder of his presence.
I am now a day older than my father ever was, and it’s torture to think about how young I feel, how vibrantly I experience every day, how every day feels like it gets better and better, and how this is where he was in his life when he took his last breath.
I love you Jerry Belcher, and wish I could have known you as an adult. I wish we could have forged a mature relationship as we grew, and learned to be better people together.
I miss you fiercely dad and think of you every day, and in my heart of hearts hope that I have become even half the warm and cheery spirit that you so generously shared throughout your life.
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