Smorgasbord Sundays: Father’s Day

I Love You DaddyToday I’m going to visit my dad at the cemetery.

This isn’t something that I talk about a lot, but Father’s Day brings me a lot of emotional pain.

My father passed away suddenly and unexpectedly just a few days after I celebrated my 28th birthday a couple of years ago. It turned my life upside down.

He was the ‘glue’ to our family – the backbone. Without him, we really fell apart. We’re constantly trying to put back the pieces even now, but it definitely doesn’t feel the same at all.

Whenever Father’s Day rolls by, I always feel very depressed and bitter because I feel like I’ve been cheated. I try to stay strong, talk about the happy and funny memories I have of him whenever I can and try to keep his legacy alive, but that doesn’t seem good enough. I miss him so much. There’s an emptiness that can’t be filled by anyone else.

There are some things you can never understand how it feels like until you’ve been through it. Writing a eulogy about your father during a time of extreme grief is one of them. And then reading it at the visitation is another. It feels like you didn’t do any justice.

I’ll never forget when I saw the box containing the ashes of my father as we drove to the cemetery to put him in the niche. It’s crazy how a small little box can hold a person who you love so much.

My father was the best. We got along so well. We shared a silly sense of humour, a love of music and movies, and we had a strong connection and emotional understanding.

Even though it’s been a couple of years since his passing, I still cry about this even though I know that tears don’t bring anyone back.

And…you know how people say, “Sorry for your loss”? I like to think that I didn’t ‘lose’ my dad. I found him. He was in the same place he always was: my heart. As cheesy as it sounds, this was one of the many revelations I’ve had since his passing, and it comforts me greatly.

Also, since he passed away, I changed the wallpaper on my cellphone to a photo of him so that wherever I go, he’s ‘with’ me. There have been times when I felt like giving up, felt frustrated, or felt nervous, and I look at his photo on my phone, and it makes me feel better.

Something you may not have known is that Swatch And Learn was created on July 25, 2010. That was just a few months after my father passed away. Initially it began as a collaboration with my friend, Fiona. Partly I wanted to do it because I love writing, makeup, nail polish, and sharing ideas. But, partly, I started this blog as a productive distraction from the extreme emotional pain and stress I was feeling as a result of my father’s passing.

Working on Swatch And Learn reminded me that life is full of blessings and happiness. I got to meet fun and kind-hearted people who shared similar interests as me, it made me smile when I got to collaborate with PR firms, and I improved my photography skills over time. All positive. That’s one reason why I love blogging – it’s like an oasis that forces you to remember the good things in life even if you’re going through a life crisis.

If you’ve managed to read this far, thank you! Your support means so much to me. I know I say that a lot, but you truly have no idea how much it means to me.

I was hesitant to publish this post because it’s not as upbeat as my usual Swatch And Learn posts, but it’s real. Although I want this blog to be like a happy sanctuary for all of us, I still would like to open up my heart to you because I know that I’m not the only person who’s going through family problems or dealing with the passing of a loved one.

A co-worker who also ‘lost’ her father once told me something that I think is so true: “It doesn’t get easier, but it gets better.” When she told me this, I didn’t really understand. But, now I do. Not having my dad around still hurts so badly, but it’s getting better because I’m learning how to become stronger. I’m proud of how I’ve held up. Even if I break down and cry sometimes, it’s okay. But for the most part, I’ve learned to become more independent, I’ve developed thicker emotional skin, and I’ve also learned to be more appreciative of any happiness that comes my way.

Some random things I’d like to share about my dad:

  • He would always crack jokes and didn’t take himself too seriously.
  • He was a devout Catholic, prayed daily, and went to church more than once a week.
  • He was a professional carpet cleaner who took great pride in doing his job well.
  • His favourite singer was Elvis Presley.
  • He could talk with anyone about anything and keep a conversation going.
  • He wore short-sleeve dress shirts 99% of the time, even in the winter.
  • He let me paint his toenails with blue nail polish and give him a clay mask with cucumbers over his eyes.
  • He cooked the best steaks I’ve ever eaten, even in comparison to the ones I’ve had at restaurants.
  • He would always buy me books when I was a kid (even though money was tight) because he said that it’s always worth investing in a child’s education.
  • He would dance and sing along with music on the radio to entertain me and get me out of bed in the mornings when I was a little kid.
  • He survived a heart attack.
  • He survived a quadruple bypass surgery on his heart.
  • He survived a stroke.

What’s your fondest memory spent with your dad? Have you ever had to deal with the passing of a loved one? How will you be spending Father’s Day?


40 thoughts on “Smorgasbord Sundays: Father’s Day

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Robyn!

      Thank you for appreciating this post! It wasn’t easy to share this on Swatch And Learn, but I felt like I had to do it. And it was a challenge to write because the more I thought about everything, the more I felt really sad. I’m still grieving, but I’m also trying to move forward with my life and focus on the living…and the good things surrounding me.

  1. Janet "The KnitMaster"

    That was beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I’m glad that you were able to “find” your father in your heart. My father passed about 25 years ago, shortly after I turned 24 and 11 months later my oldest daughter was born. She was the one that brought my mom back to life.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey The KnitMaster!

      Wow, your father passed away even earlier than mine! I know that must’ve been tremendously difficult for you. *Hugs* But I’m glad that your daughter brought so much love and joy into your family. Babies have an amazing power to remind us all about why life is worth living and why we should count each day as a blessing.

      1. Janet "The KnitMaster"

        Even now, all these years later, I still think of him almost every day. I’ll see something or say something or hear something that would just remind me of him. He was also an artist, so I do have a number of his watercolors hanging about. It’s never easy, but you do come to peace with it. He’s always watching and smiling and incredibly proud of you!

        1. Mary Post author

          There hasn’t been a day that has gone by that I haven’t thought of my dad.

          This is a good thing! It helps us keep our memories of our fathers alive this way. I never want to forget the wonderful person he was and everything that he sacrificed for my well-being.

  2. mellinail

    What a lovely reminder of your father, Mary! I know you miss him terribly. It does get better with time, and the happy memories are the ones that remain.

    This is Phil’s first Father’s Day, which will be low key. We are visiting my parents first, then just watching movies later today.

    mellinail recently posted: I Am Still Alive!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey mellinail!

      Phil must be so happy – the very first Father’s Day is a big deal! 🙂 Hope you had (or are having) a wonderful time at your parents’ place. 🙂

      Yes, I try to focus on only the happy memories. Thankfully, I have so many with my dad.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Cecile!

      I’m glad! *Hugs* Your comment just proved that this post was worth writing. I hope that you gain a sense of peace and greater happiness as you move forward.

  3. Candice

    Hi Mary,

    I have both of my parents, but my father has Type 1 diabetes. It cost him his leg, and for a while, we weren’t sure if was going to continue to be with us. He pulled through and is fine now, but I saw, briefly, that horrible window into that world. I had to help bury my best friend’s mother at 17, and I felt a part of me ripped away at that funeral. You’re right, it gets better, but the scars remain. But let’s live the best lives possible, to honor the ones who left us, okay? That’s the best thing we can do, I think. Make them proud.
    Candice recently posted: Essie Jag-U-Are and the Super Clean

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Candice!

      It’s such a scary thing when you aren’t sure if your parent is going to survive. You know…as a kid, many of us see our parents as superheros of sorts. It’s as though they can do anything. They take care of you when you’re sick, even if they’re sick themselves. So it really turns the tables around when a parent has a major health problem. It’s very surreal and scary.

      I’m glad that your father made it through, even though it came at the cost of his leg.

      And, oh my gosh, I feel terrible about your best friend’s mother passing away that early. 🙁 She must’ve become extremely strong after that. Well, there are two avenues that people go through – either they become better individuals because of a great loss or they cave in and throw in the towel. I like to think that more people stick it out and become stronger.

      Yes, I agree. Focus on the living and the good things in the world. All I want to do is make my father proud.

  4. Frosso

    This was a very sweet post that any father would be proud of 🙂 Luckily I still have my father. There were two times in my life that I thought I would lose him. Once when I was in 7th grade away on an overnight natures field trip I got sick to my stomach out of no where that they had to drive me back home. That same day while I was on my way back I found out that my dad was rushed to the hospital. My mom was so frantic she wouldnt tell me anything so I was terrified. He’s a carpenter and had an accident with a table saw and lost his finger. That was the worst of it thank goodness. Another time about 4 or 5 years ago he was rushed to the hospital while he was at the doctors getting a stress test. They found he was at risk of having a heart attack at any moment. He had to have immediate surgery and had a stent placed in his heart. I was a wreck for a while and could barely handle seeing him in a hospital bed. You really don’t know how something is going to affect you until it happens. I don’t have a close relationship with my father, but I am still terrified of losing him and my mother. The loss of a parent is something we all have to go through at some point in our life and it really terrifies me. It scares me more than dying myself. I can’t imagine the effects it has on someone to lose a parent at such a young age. It’s good that you have so many fond memories of your Father and sounds like he is still molding you into an amazing person even after death. As cheesy as it sounds its better to have loved and lost than never to have loved at all.
    Frosso recently posted: Orly Flash Glam FX

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Frosso!

      Thank you for saying that! A tribute to my father on here was needed. 🙂 I want to make him proud.

      Oh my gosh! His finger was cut off? Painful! I’m so glad, too, that he was okay after that. I can imagine how scary that must’ve been for all of you. And, emergency surgeries are always a shock to the system. That’s actually what happened when I lost my dad (not with a risk of a heart attack, but something else). He had to be rushed to the hospital. After the assessment, he had to undergo emergency surgery, and he passed away on the operating table. None of us foresaw that chain of events happening. It was traumatizing. Even when I think about it now, I well up with emotion.

      Thank you for saying that my father is still shaping me now. 🙂 That really makes me so happy to hear, and he would be very happy to know that.

  5. Nicole McMerrick

    That was such a sweet post. I’m crying right now. My dad is still alive and kicking but last year he had a heart attack and it was a crazy and terrifying experience. I’m used to seeing my dad healthy and strong and working out in the yard and it was hard seeing him in the hospital and then in and out of the doctors’ offices w all the complications he had post surgery. My dad and I are close too but he isn’t as silly as your dad… not in the same way anyway. He would never let me paint his nails! Haha. He likes to pretend he’s being grumpy and I do something or say something funny to prove he’s not really THAT grumpy. I spend a lot of time with him and my mom. Im sorry today is a tough day for you, but hopefully you’re doing something to keep busy or spending time w your family. 🙂
    <3 Nicole

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Nicole McMerrick!

      So relieved to hear that your father’s still around. You get to cherish more time with him and build even more memories! 🙂 Take lots of photos and videos, and remember to tell him that you love him as often as you can.

      I can relate to what you said about your dad being healthy and strong and it being strange to see him in a hospital. I felt the same way about my dad. He was physically (and mentally) very strong, so it was weird seeing him weak in a hospital. Really threw me for a loop.

      Yes, today I kept fairly busy. After the visit to the cemetery, I spent a good portion of the day with my mom. Treated her to lunch and then went window shopping. After my dad passed away, Father’s Day became more like a second Mother’s Day with a visit to the cemetery, though.

  6. Carmela

    *huuuuge, huuuuuge huuuuuug*

    You, my dear friend, are one of the strongest people I’ve been so blessed to know. And I’m so happy for you that you’ve found the silver lining through all this. It takes a different sort of strength to see the good in bad experiences. This post hits home for me, because like you, I’m a huge Daddy’s Girl. Always was, always will be. He’s not gone in the same sense but he lives in a different continent, along with the rest of my family. I realize it’s not necessarily the same thing, but I definitely understand the feeling of loneliness when someone you love dearly isn’t physically around anymore. He used to be such an overprotecting and hovering presence that I resented it in my teen years. Now that it’s not the case, I miss it dearly. Funny, huh? I did enjoy talking cars with him a lot. That’s one of my fondest memories with dad. I guess my brothers just weren’t as interested as I was.

    Your dad sounds like a really great guy. He seems like he would’ve been the kind of guy my dad would have totally gotten along with. They both share the idea of putting the education of their children at the forefront regardless of budget. He also doesn’t take himself too seriously and is a devout Catholic. Thank you so much for sharing this, Mary. You had me blubbering at the end of the post and reaching for the phone to call my dad (even if I just talked to him this morning).
    Carmela recently posted: Indulge without the Splurge: June 15, 2012

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Carmela!

      Thank you! I needed those amazing hugs and the even more amazing comment you left me. Seeing the silver lining is a must. To dwell in gloom and doom just isn’t an option. It’d be too hard to bear!

      It must be difficult for you now that your dad’s so far away. But hopefully you call him often, write to him, and pray for each other. Establishing and maintaining those bonds is important. It’s what memories are made of, and when a parent passes away, at least we can cherish those good memories. That’s what motivates me to continually push myself even when times get tough.

      I’m sure your dad was extra happy to have received a second phone call from you! 🙂 I can tell that you really love your dad, and he’s very blessed to have a daughter like you.

  7. Maria Saldana

    Hi Mary happy father’s day your not alone on this I still celebrate dad’s day and it’s important to remember love one’s. Also I want to ask you something can you name me your utensils that you use for nail art please. I’m a bit new at this design on nail.

    Much love from a faithful reader,

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Maria Saldana!

      Sure. No problem! 🙂 The dotting-tool set I have is by Daniel Stone. I’m not sure of the exactly name of the set since I threw away the packaging after I bought it. As for my striper brushes, they’re from Sally Beauty Supply, but I don’t recommend them because they were expensive and didn’t perform particularly amazing to justify the price tag. (Hmm…I hardly use those brushes and I misplaced them. If I find them, I’ll update this comment with the brand name.)

  8. Mara

    Hi Mary, thanks for sharing your feelings, I know it’s so hard when people we love that much dies… I lost both my parents when I was 2 months old and later, life gave me the best parents ever. My mother died some years ago and I still miss her… And now that I’m a mom too, I would love to ask her so many things!! But I’m happy of the times we could share and I want to think that she knows I’ve formed a beautiful family 🙂
    Mara recently posted: Dior 401 Saint-Tropez from Summer 2012 Croisette Collection

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Mara!

      I’m really sorry that you ‘lost’ both of your parents when you were just a newborn. But I’m really proud of you for being so strong and for having a mature and positive attitude about the whole ordeal. 🙂 You inspire me!

  9. Dana

    Hi Mary,

    I just wanted to thank you for this post. This was my first fathers day since my dad passed away and to say its been difficult would be the world’s biggest understatement. Today is awful for me because last fathers day was the last time i talked to my dad. He was killed a week later in a motorcycle accident. Some days are better than others but lately I just feel like I’ve been kicked in the stomach. I feel angry and cheated and also guilty for feeling that way. I can’t tell you how much of a comfort it is to hear that I’m not the only one that feels that way.

    Your father would be so proud of you for everything you’ve accomplished and your for your inner strength. I really admire your courage for opening up about this and sharing your story.

    Thank you for making an absolutely brutal day a little bit easier.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Dana!

      The first Father’s Day that passes is definitely the most heart-wrenching one. Even afterwards, it’s tough. I really relate to that kicked-in-the-stomach feeling. I really hope that you’re able to cope with the devastating passing of your father. May you find inner peace and comfort from supportive and loving people.

      I know you didn’t ask for advice, but…I found that surrounding myself with lots of people really helped take my mind off negative thoughts. When my father passed away, most of the time I was alone, I’d be consumed with bad thoughts. The only way I could combat that was to become more social and to pack my schedule so that I didn’t have time to dwell on negative things. Maybe you’d like to try this. It’s one coping mechanism. (I’m not saying to ignore your thoughts because you do have to face them eventually, but when you’re feeling so raw and the passing is still fresh, I really think it helps to keep busy until you’re ready to deal with reality.)

      If you’d like to keep the conversation going privately, please feel free to e-mail me in confidence. When my father passed away, I didn’t have many people to talk with, and it would’ve helped me greatly, so that’s why I’m bringing this option up for you.

      THANK YOU for saying that bit about my father being proud of me. 😀 It made me feel good to read it!

  10. Alli

    Thank you for being so vulnerable with this post, just beautiful. 🙂 Your Dad sounds like a great one.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Alli!

      Yes, he was an incredible father, and the more I look back at the great memories I have of him and with him, I find myself appreciating him even more. He was the most forgiving and loving person I know.

  11. Another Cristina

    Death and grief is so terrible because no matter what, there is so little that can help besides time. I feel like that about your dad-knowing about your loss is so terrible, I feel like no words could ever be comforting in comparison. I’m glad you took some time to post about him, am glad I got to “know” him a little by reading about him, and hope things continue to get better, if not easier, for you over time.
    Another Cristina recently posted: China Glaze had Exotic Encounters Last Friday Night!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Another Cristina!

      Thank you for being so compassionate. I was nervous about sharing these thoughts, but it was something I’ve been wanting to do for the longest time because it’s important to me and I thought it could help someone else who’s suffering through the loss of a loved one.

      It’s so bittersweet to know that only time can heal this pain. I think that when you ‘lose’ someone you love, that’s the time when you start to also ‘find’ yourself in ways you couldn’t before. At least that was the case for me.

  12. Marta

    Mary, it took a really strong soul and a kind heart to post this here. I am touched to see that the blog that you started in a way to cope with the loss, is now able to provide you (hopefully) with some support as you continue to feel the absence of your father.

    At a loss of what to say, I KNOW you are making your dad VERY proud. I know he is also with you, watching over you and rooting you on!
    Marta recently posted: Cult Nails – Princess

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Marta!

      THANK YOU! 🙂 I have no doubt that my dad’s still watching over me. It’s a comforting thought!

      Yes, this blog has brought a lot of happiness, but it’s mainly because of my readers who have been so supportive. Without my readers, I know I wouldn’t feel the way I do now, so I’m eternally grateful for all the love and kindness they’ve bestowed since this blog’s inception.

  13. Chris

    I lost my father at 13, after literally 13 years of awful health (4 heart attacks, quadruple by-pass surgery, diabetes, high blood pressure, etc.). It is still hard at Father’s Day, Christmas, etc. I miss him everyday and wish more than anything he was still physically here. Then a few years ago, we lost my grandfather who was like a second father, so the holiday really gets to me.

    It does help to remember the good things, like you listed. I try to remember all the fun we had and all the goofiness. It helps, but sometimes you just gotta be sad. Nothing wrong with allowing yourself to feel that sadness and to remember how much he means to you. I think we sometimes get this idea that we should not feel sadness, but without it, we cannot really appreciate the joy and happiness of life.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Chris!

      Wow…that’s heartbreaking! I can’t imagine how hard the ordeal must’ve been for you. It was already painful for me to ‘lose’ my dad when I was 28. So ‘losing’ your father at 13 makes my stomach twist in a knot.

      The holidays are really hard when we’re really missing loved ones. Hopefully you still manage to spend time with the rest of your family who are still alive. We must build new and happy memories. 🙂

  14. MariJo

    Wow Mary, you are really strong to share this. Thank you for sharing a part of you that is so emotionally painful. The closes person I lost was my grandmother and that doesn’t even come close to losing a parent, especially suddenly and unexpectedly. I’m sure this post has touched others going through the same thing. And for those of us who still have our fathers, it’s a great reminder to cherish every moment. (BIG HUGS!!)
    MariJo recently posted: Pink Wednesday, The Vegas Edition!

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey MariJo!

      Thank you! Yes, it was very difficult to share it let alone write it. I was caught up in emotion the whole time I sat down to write it and nearly deleted the whole post without publishing it.

      I’m sorry about your grandmother. Were you very close to her? I know that some of my friends have grandmothers who are actually closer to them than their parents!

      Thanks for the hug. I needed it! 🙂

  15. Margaret

    Hi Mary. I’ve only just read your post seeing it linked to a post my daughter wrote – Hannah aka Polly Polish about losing her Dad. That was 6 years yesterday and when she was almost 21 and her sister just 18. I was travelling fairly ok until just now when all the pain returned. I don’t think we will ever, or should ever forget our lost loved ones but as time passes it does ease the daily pain. But there will always be totally painful days when the anniversaries tick over. But you know what? I think that’s how it should be if you loved someone so much. I hope you keep his memory in your heart forever and wish you all the best for the future. Margaret.

    1. Mary Post author

      Hey Margaret!

      Thank you for stopping by and sharing your perspective. Yes, it’s very difficult for my mom when the wedding anniversary comes along…I can’t even imagine how she feels if I’m already feeling like this!

      I definitely will always keep his memory alive, in my heart and in my thoughts and actions, too. Thank you!


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