Father's Day, 2001.
A day that did not start out well.
A day on which I had never felt more or completely alone.
You see, by the time Father's Day 2001 arrived, I had been widowed for all of five months. As if that were not enough, my own father – who was at Mike's bedside when he died, at the funeral that followed and thereafter watched his little girl as she began her new life's journey as a widow – died two weeks prior to Father's Day.
The two most important men in my life.
In what seemed to be an instant.
Father's Day, 2001 was not a good day.
The first Father's Day without both my husband and my father.
I was alone.
I felt abandoned.
And I was getting pretty sick and tired of it.
I had already buried a husband – and thereafter buried my father mere months later…and right before Father's Day.
What kind of sick, twisted and cruel joke was life playing on me now?
Pamela Marches Photography
Unable to tolerate staying in the house, it was on Father's Day, 2001 that I climbed into my car and began driving aimlessly up and down the gorgeous Pacific Coast Highway, without any agenda whatsoever and with barely a clear sense of direction. Usually my place of comfort, peace and escape, the sights and smells of the gorgeous California beachscape brought no solace that day.
I continued to drive.
Tears streaming down my face.
After meandering up and down the coast for what seemed an eternity, I eventually found myself at the door of my favorite restaurant. Since it was Father's Day, the place was filled with happy families; dressed in Sunday finest. In sharp contrast, I appeared forlorn and tear-stained; a crumpled heap sitting alone in the foyer.
Looking (and feeling) like Oliver from the musical of the same name (ala, "Please sir, can I have some more?"), I meekly asked if there was any room for little ol' pitiful-looking, "abandoned" me. Since many of the staff at the restaurant are also good friends who could easily assess my emotional state, a beautiful table was quickly arranged in their garden.
The general manager came to the table, clearly surprised to see me – and all I could manage was a feeble, "I’m all alone and I just wound up here". She then asked, "What was your father's favorite drink?" When I replied, "Whiskey and Coke", she declared, "That's what I'm bringing you."
And she did.
Though not my favorite cocktail in the world, I accepted the drink and took a sip.
I immediately felt better…and not simply because I was having a cocktail.
It was because that without even being completely aware of it, I was enveloping myself in happy memories…
The "forbidden sip" and the sweet taste of the whiskey and Coke that Daddy let me "sneak" as a teen. Talking down his bowling results. Laughing at his old-school (and I mean really old-school) country music preferences and his personal renderings of the same while he made his favorite fried potatoes and onions late at night. The ominous glare that I would receive from him if I asked for a second sip of his drink.
Many years later, the memories grew to include those of Mike pouring over carefully-crafted, school-made Father's Day cards and smiling bemusedly at the inevitable hand-painted, just-this-side-of-unidentifiable, art-and-craft that usually accompanied those cards. The chortling laugh and loving bear hug that he would always proffer to an eager, ringlet-crowned little girl who would dissolve in a fit of giggles. Looking forward to our joke-filled Father's Day dinner at the same favorite restaurant that was now making such an effort to provide comfort on a very difficult day.
My thoughts had actually begun to turn from those of loss, abandonment and sorrow to those of funny, sweet, laugh-out-loud, lovely memories.
And I finally realized…
I wasn't alone at all.
I got it.
My daddy was still right there with me.
Kendall's daddy was still right there with us.
They were always going to be with us.
Because they were a part of us.
Those things would never change.
Their deaths ended only their physical presence on earth.
Not the memories.
Not the love.
All I had to do was allow those memories and the love to truly occupy my heart and commit to celebrating and living the legacies that these two incredible men left to us to carry forward.
So I did.
I let the memories in.
I let the love wash over me.
And I smiled.
Through the tears, I actually smiled.
No - Father's Day 2001 did not start out well.
The beginnings of that day does not evoke lovely memories.
But Father's Day 2001 was also a turning point.
And though the day did not start out well...
I now remember Father's Day 2001 as the day that eventually brought both comfort and growth.
Even better is that Father's Day once again became a day that our family both celebrates and actually enjoys.
And so, for those who are without the physical presence of fathers on Father's Day - be it your own father, the father of your children or both – dare to let the love and the wonderful memories in; however that would manifest for you. Maybe it would be with a favorite food or drink at a restaurant that you love. Perhaps it is with a barbecue and silly games or going through family photo albums.
Wherever and however you wish, let the memories in.
Don't be afraid…
It's going to be OK.
…and Happy Father's Day.
Lovingly dedicated to all families everywhere who are missing their fathers; as well as to our family's "daddies" of blessed memory: "Clink" Clinkenbeard; Mike Fleet and Kenneth Stansbury.
Take a deep breath. Exhale. Do it one more time. Then, recite the following:
“My healing journey belongs to no one else.
I cannot and will not be compared to other people
and my loss cannot and will not be compared to any other loss experiences;
including my own.
Even though there may be people around me who wish I would do otherwise,
I cannot and will not hurry my grief or my grieving processes;
nor will I make any attempts to do so.
I accept that healing after this level of loss is neither fast, nor is it easy;
therefore, I will truthfully honor whatever it is that I am feeling
when I am feeling it;
rather than let others dictate how I should
or should not be feeling.
My personal healing journey is just that.
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Don't miss out on Carole’s bestselling CD entitled, "Widows Wear Stilettos: What Now?" The CD is a spoken-word self-help CD (NOT a “book on audio") and provides emotional and practical direction, support and encouragement during the very difficult first weeks and months after the loss of a spouse. The CD also addresses those who have widowed for a longer period of time, but may feel "stuck" in their grief and need help in moving forward. The CD is an ideal companion to Carole's books and is available for purchase exclusively at (on the "Home" page).
Answers to questions about ordering online and by mail, shipping and return policies, as well as testimonials from other widows can be found on the "FAQs" page. Don’t put off either beginning or continuing along on your healing journey for another minute. Get your copy of “Widows Wear Stilettos – What Now?” today!
Included below are resources that you may find helpful in pursuing your healing journey.***
CRISIS INTERVENTION AND PROGRAMS
*National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: (800) 273-8255. Help is available by telephone twenty-four hours a day; seven days a week.
* Alcoholics Anonymous: .
* Narcotics Anonymous: .
* National Eating Disorders Association: (800) 931-2237 .
* Gamblers Anonymous: .
* Debtors Anonymous (compulsive shopping / spending):
* Sexual Compulsives Anonymous (SCA): .
* Mental Health America (“Cutting” or other means of self-harm): .
SERVING THE WIDOWED COMMUNITY
* The American Widow Project: :
* TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors)
* Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation at and
* Social Security Administration
* Department of Veterans Affairs (for military widowed and surviving family members):
***Please note that no suggestion and/or recommendation is meant to replace expert medical or legal assistance. Carole Brody Fleet, her representatives and / or employees or assigns do not receive any remuneration whatsoever for any recommendations made herein.