My Father Died Last Week

Laguna Beach Farmer's Market
Creative Commons License photo credit: Island Life

“Out beyond wrongdoing and right-doing there is a field. I’ll meet you there.”

My 89 year old father passed away last week. Today I’ve shared some of the wisdom I’ve gained from him.

I grew up on our 88 acre produce farm, one of 10 children and I write this from my perspective. As you know each of us has their own.

Love – My dad loved his family, friends and life. My father and I were alike in many ways and were at odds with each other many times. With the help of a therapist I healed my relationship with him when I was 27 years old. It was because of this I can look back at good memories and good times with love.

Faith – My father sent us to parochial schools and attended church with us regularly. On Saturday nights he took our migrant workers to Mass (said in Spanish) in the back of our pick up truck. We would beg to go with them and at times he allowed it. My spiritual path began at an early age and continues today.

Ask – We were taught how to ask others when we wanted an answer. Because we lived in the country we were always in the car commuting somewhere. My father would use this time to pass on his values through lectures. One of the main things I took away was to “ask” for help, directions or anything else you may need.

Dance – My maternal and paternal grandparents came to the U.S. from Poland. As a family we practiced many Polish traditions. My favorite was learning and dancing the Polka. My dad loved to dance. There was no greater joy than the rare occasion of being in my father’s arms when it was my turn to dance with him at a party or wedding reception.

Farming – Learning to be self sufficient and grow your own food was a major gift. Later as a young mother I took the same skills and began my own flower business on two acres of land. What an impact this gift had on our young family.

Nature – Working in the fields allowed us to find joy in our work and the outdoors. Our pond was a gathering place where we learned to swim, fish, and ice skate. We had an old cabin in the woods where we’d play house with cousins.

We worked three seasons outside each year from sun up to sun down. Nature was also our play ground. We learned how to entertain and enjoy ourselves outdoors. These things seem lost in today’s world.

Work Ethic – My siblings and I began working at the Farmer’s Market selling produce from our family farm when we were six years old. My father taught us how to greet customers, make change, accept returns, give free samples etc. He would drop us off as early as 5:30 am and return for us and the empty crates and full cashbox at 6 pm. 

Communication – We learned how to communicate with people of all ages. When you are in sales you have no choice but to speak up. We knew we had a job to do and we did what was expected of us. 

Commitment – My dad began working at a manufacturing plant when he was 15 years old. He retired after 45 years of service. This combined with co-managing the farm with my mom was how he supported his 10 children.

Last weeks Magical Monday winner is Meagan. 

What significant things have you learned from your parents or caretakers?

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Evita June 21, 2009, 7:48 am

    This is so beautiful Tess! What a fabulous tribute to you and your Dad! From this reflection it appears to me that he lived a good life and you lived an even better life having known him.

    It is amazing how our parents shape us for the better or worse sometimes but shape us nonetheless. I can so relate to so much of what you said. I think the older generations really held themselves in terms of feelings more in, so it was in my 20’s too that I put my relationship with my Dad too. Today I look at him for who he is and thank him for that, not for who I think he should be or I would want him to be.

    I love the farm life idea – so simple and pure! And how neat that you have these Polish roots! I was actually born in Poland myself and came here when I was little so I can somewhat relate. Although today I choose to live by making my own traditions – it is simply what I found works for me.

    Anyhow, thank you for sharing this. May all of us who read this, have our own similar reflection whether our dad is alive or passed. Thank you for giving me mine 🙂

    Evita’s last blog post..When Words Are Not Enough – Simply Allow

  • Positively Present June 21, 2009, 7:56 am

    This is an absolutely wonderful, heart-wrenching, moving post and I thank you so much for opening up and sharing the wisdom of your father with us. I am so sorry for your loss. It sounds like your father was truly a wonderful person, filled with great wisdom, and it is so wonderful that you shared pieces of him here. I have a wonderful father as well (I actually wrote on my blog about all that he’s taught me) and I’m glad to know that you were able to gain so many wonderful insights from your father. My thoughts are with you on this Father’s Day.

    Positively Present’s last blog post..blueprints for a life: 10 lessons my dad taught me

  • julie June 21, 2009, 11:37 am

    Tess, sharing these bits of your life and your father surely helps during this time. Whether someone we love passes unexpectedly or not, easily or with difficulty, ready or not, those of us left feel the void for some time. I can relate to all the emotions you are or will be feeling. Let me know if there’s anything I can do.

    Your early life sounds wonderful! Filled with work and adventure, growth and education, too, all intertwined with the blessings of imagination and play that come to life when living so closely with nature. Your father surely loved you very deeply to have offered his lessons and wisdoms at every opportunity, and his kindness shines through your words. You are a very fortunate woman, indeed, to have been raised in this fashion, surrounded by such love.

    Hugs to you! ~ Julie

    PS: Your father will enjoy seeing that you’ve posted this on Father’s Day. 😉

    julie’s last blog post..On That Note

  • Tess The Bold Life June 21, 2009, 12:40 pm

    Evita,
    Thanks for commenting. These words “Today I look at him for who he is and thank him for that, not for who I think he should be or I would want him to be” are very profound.

    I needed this reminder to look at everyone this way!

    I did live a better life having known him. I was wise enough to know what I didn’t like was about me not him. He was only my mirror giving me an opportunity to grow and I took advantage of and learned from them all.

    Positively Present,
    It makes me smile that my words moved you. Thanks so much for your thoughts today. I have a life time of good memories to choose from. When you heal a relationship the good stuff is all you recognize.

    Julie,
    I do believe I am a blessed person to have had the opportunities that come from big families and a farm. I am a healthy and happy person who enjoys nature and knows how to relate to people on many levels due to my many experiences growing up!

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..My Father Died Last Week

  • Hilary June 21, 2009, 12:49 pm

    Hi Tess – my thoughts are with you and it’s just lovely that you’ve been able to share some of your joyous times with us – thank you.

    He came from a generation of workers and doing the maximum for their families, even if it meant two or three jobs, working weekends – a great lesson to us all.

    My mother of 88 has been terminally with strokes for 2+ years and I just have to admire her fortitude, her desire to live, her spunk, the fact she never complains or has ever complained, and she always says thank you – even locked in with her strokes she doesn’t let it get to her … I am lucky she can communicate only a little now, but she can understand and take things in and still smile.

    I’ve probably learnt a lot about myself and where I’ve come from via my parents during this 28 months .. and still do. My Mum will live a while longer – anyone that can survive an operation at 88 has strength of character beyond most people’s bounds.

    It’s good to learn of your Polish roots .. and that you loved the land, and built yourself a flower business, and now are doing an excellent job blogging –

    Thanks Tess – and hope you and the family are having an excellent Sunday and Father’s Day ..
    Hilary Melton-Butcher
    Positive Letters

    Hilary’s last blog post..A place of sun worship, a healing sanctuary, a sacred burial site, or something different altogether?

  • CJ June 21, 2009, 4:39 pm

    Tessm
    What amazing and beautiful things you write about your father and your family. He sure “did good” making YOU. I love the images that i am left with from your writing, the dancing, the play cabin, the fields of produce, ridinig in the back of a pick up truck to go to church with the migrant workers. It reads like a movie that i would like to see, you know the type that you grow from just reading or seeing.
    I wish is that you are finding comfort in your memories.
    Love,
    Cj & Dan

  • Karen Chaffee June 21, 2009, 5:43 pm

    Tess, there is no greater pain than losing a loved one. I give you my prayers and best thoughts for healing that pain.

    I wrote about my own dad on Memorial Day. Some of the things I learned from him, a hard-working man of integrity who, with my Mom, raised eight of us:

    How to swim and fish, garden, and love nature

    Integrity and honesty

    Owning up to one’s responsibilities, even when they aren’t always fun or easy

    How to find my way around a tool box

    …and so very much more that I appreciate more and more as time goes on.

    Bless you, and thank you for sharing the things you learned from your own Dad.

    Karen

  • Amanda Linehan June 21, 2009, 6:00 pm

    Hi Tess – You know, sometimes you are so busy living life and being a part of a family that you are not even aware that you are learning anything, and, of course, you are! I especially liked your mention of learning how to “ask.” That’s sometimes a difficult one and maybe not even a noticeable lesson until you really think about it.

    I’m sorry to hear about your father. Best wishes.

    Amanda Linehan’s last blog post..Bringing Love Into Your Life

  • Jocelyn of I TAKE OFF THE MASK June 21, 2009, 6:25 pm

    Thanks for sharing this, its a true legacy from someone who passes on his torch to those whom he has blessed in life. When my grandfather passed away, he passed on to me his values like love, family, simplicity, love of country and courage.

    Jocelyn of I TAKE OFF THE MASK’s last blog post..I’m Not Dead Yet!

  • Kristy June 21, 2009, 7:08 pm

    Your father, my grandfather. What a great tribute to my grandfather on this Father’s Day. These gifts grandpa gave to you are also so very present in me. I think my favorite was communication (or ‘the gift of the gab’). Selling at the farmer’s market for him as a young child and later for you has greatly influenced my life: selling ideas/lesson/values as a former teacher and former speaker and currently selling a product. He really was genuine and people bought from him b/c he that ‘way’ w/ his customers. His repeat business was a testament to his ability to make them feel special.

    One thing I might as to your list is PASSION. He had a passion for whatever he did. He was passionate about the farm, the factory, fishing, his Polish heritage, etc. His passion is a gift that I think is unique and one many search a lifetime to find.

    I believe I told my cousin, Melissa, I think I am more like grandpa than I ever imagined. I will close in the words that I so often would read on his car’s front license plate….”You bet you DUPA I am POLISH.” I love you Grandpa and know your spirit lives within me. Love you mom….and am w/ you today.

    Thanks

  • jenn June 21, 2009, 7:43 pm

    I’m sending you love and light. Loosing a parent is never easy. No matter the age, life, expected, not expected. I’m sorry Tess. Sending you love and light 🙂

    But AMAZING post! How wonderful the wisdom you gained from him. Love this post! Stopping to think about my parents, the one gift they taught me and I lost it for a while was never to worry. Things will work. Focus on the good and things will work out. No matter how little money you have, health… things will always work out. Just go with the flow!

    Its something that once I got married. I lost that attitude, but I’ve found it again 🙂 For the most part 😉

    Thanks Tess!!!

    jenn’s last blog post..Happy Father’s Day….

  • Lance June 21, 2009, 8:31 pm

    Hi Tess,
    I’m sending a big hug your way. Death is not an easy thing, no matter what the age. Know that I care.

    Thank you for sharing this. And for a glimpse into really what has made you who you are today. I’m drawn into the Polka today, reading here. That’s dance I remember learning as I grew up. And all of our children have now learned it at school, and danced it with their parents – as each one has went through their 4th grade “Wisconsin” concert – a musical celebration of what made Wisconsin what it is today. Including…the polka.

    He is watching over you, my friend…

    Peace and love,
    Lance

    Lance’s last blog post..Sunday Thought For The Day

  • Barbara Swafford June 22, 2009, 12:00 am

    Hi Tess,

    This is such a beautiful tribute to your father. As I was reading it, I realized our childhoods were very similar – the farm, working, playing outside, skating on the frozen pond, dancing the polka,….all great memories, aren’t they?

    My thoughts and prayers are with you, my friend.

    Blessings, always.

    Barbara Swafford’s last blog post..Do “They” Have The Right To Know

  • janice June 22, 2009, 1:41 am

    I wondered where you were last week, hoped it was a visit to a daughter. This is beautiful, Tess. A gift from his best self through you to us.

    My dad is 84 and had a heart attack earlier this year. We were with him yesterday, for Father’s Day. When I came home, I wrote a piece too painful to send to my editor and have missed my submission deadline. I’ve written many pieces about him but have been uneasy about posting them because of what some members of my family might say if they ever read my blog or column. You, as always, have made me feel bolder.

    This comes with a huge hug. I’m glad we ‘met’.

    janice’s last blog post..Connected and Encouraged

  • Tess The Bold Life June 22, 2009, 2:57 am

    Hillary,
    I love the lesson you point out about having as many jobs as one needs.

    I also think you have inheirited yours mothers spunk and fortitude. I admire how you care for her and enjoy reading your thoughts about your life with her. Thank you for sharing. T.

    CJ,
    Thank you. A movie? Isn’t that a hoot. There sure would be lots of action with all of us. We’re leaving for home today.

    Karen,
    Your welcome and thank you! Yes our lives do seem similar and Michigan says it all. I’m grateful you stopped by to wish me well.

    Jenn,
    Thanks you! Oh and I really needed to be reminded of “not to worry.” What a gift you received from them.

    Lance,
    I’ll meet up with you at the Wisconsin fest for a polka. That is so great that they teach it to all children in 4th grade. Thanks Lance.

    Barbara,
    I never knew that about you and yes our pasts are similar. Funny how we find each other isn’t it?

    Janice,
    Totally understand about “who is reading my blog.” Know that I wish you and your father well and I’m sending over some love and Kleenex!

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..My Father Died Last Week

  • Megan "JoyGirl!" Bord June 22, 2009, 3:32 am

    Tess,

    Thank you for sharing such beautiful wisdom; not only that, but taking time to think about what you learned from your father and write it with such heart. I’m not sure I could do the same for my own (but our story is much different than yours, from the sounds of it). You have me thinking, though…

    I love that you grew up in a farm family. I am very close with someone who did the same, and I find that I’m quite drawn to that way of life (and as you pointed out, especially now… “Less is more” is something I’ve come to embrace). It’s hard work, but there’s something about being tied to nature. I think it’s a very grounding way to live (but that’s just an outsider looking in).

    Your post was perfectly moving — thank you for that!

    Oh, and my goodness, I was Magical Monday’s winner?! I almost can’t believe it!! (Wow, thank you again!)

    Megan “JoyGirl!” Bord’s last blog post..How God Talks To Us

  • Suzie Cheel June 22, 2009, 4:40 am

    Hi Tess,
    I have just found your blog through my friend Lance. Thank you for sharing this
    amazing story of your Father and your relationship with him. I love that you wrote about your healing time, that made my heart smile- I have friends who have not taken that step and have missed the joy you share. You brought memories of my father back, he died at 87 6 years ago. I remember all the wonderful holidays Dad made sure we always had and I now live in a plce where we did hiloday as a teenager.
    Thank you for you inspiration
    Namaste
    Suzie

    Suzie Cheel’s last blog post..Super Abundant Bloggers #10

  • Tess June 22, 2009, 6:56 am

    Suzie,
    Thanks for stopping by and reading my blog. When I touch someone with my writing it makes me smile. Thanks also for sharing your memories with me. We’ll send love to all those with unhealed relationships!

  • Davina June 22, 2009, 7:35 am

    Hi Tess.
    Your father lived a full life and you are with a full heart in this post. What wonderful things you have shared. Dancing with him must have been so special. This is a terrific tribute to him on Father’s Day; I bet he is smiling somewhere. Hugs to you Tess and warm thoughts while you make this transition into a new phase of your life.

    Davina’s last blog post..365 Days & Still Blogging

  • Jan Lundy June 22, 2009, 8:21 am

    Tess,
    My sympathies, dear friend. I am so sorry to hear this but your beautiful tribute to your father is a celebration of life, truly! How wonderful you were able to heal the wounds of childhood. And that now you are able to give voice to his legacy. He lives on in you…What a lovely, lovely post. Be well…

    Jan Lundy’s last blog post..Meditation Monday

  • Ashok June 22, 2009, 10:30 am

    I think your father would have been very happy to see his involved was so well appreciated. Often conflicts with loved ones make spectators think that the relationship has gone so sour that the two conflicting individuals don’t respect each other anymore. But its not always the case. Even in such unconventional relationships people still deeply value and respect each other. Great post!

    Ashok’s last blog post..Everything is going to be alright?

  • Mary B Sheffield June 22, 2009, 10:32 am

    Dear Tess,
    My prayers are with you ! You have taken such great healing memories and life lessons from your father ! When you write I feel like I can see his callused hands from a honest days work . And a passion in his eyes for all that he believed in .
    Take Care ,
    Mary Beth

  • Giovanna Garcia June 22, 2009, 10:34 am

    Hi Tess

    Thank you for sharing your father’s wisdom with us. My thoughts are with you and your family.

    What I learned from my family was mainly how to be a good human being and work ethic. Growing up in my family, they always pointed out, so and so did this…that is a great example of how to be a good human being or that is not a good example of a good human being. The point was not just be successful in dollar value, but to be successful in being a good human being.

    Thanks for this beauity post, I am sure your father is very proud of what you do and your work.
    Thanks,
    Giovanna Garcia
    Imperfect Action is better than No Action

    Giovanna Garcia’s last blog post..25 women help a widower breast feed his baby.

  • Jannie Funster June 22, 2009, 2:10 pm

    Tess, he obviously taught you very important things in life. The most important things — love, faith, nature, work ethic, committment.

    Dance too! Can you still polka and was it difficult to learn? Sounds like a lot of fun. Maybe when we meet you can teach me a few steps. Whenever I hear the word polka, I can’t help but think of John Candy in Home Alone. Remember the “Polka Kings of the Midwest?” John Candy, another well loved man, like your father.

    Peace be with you, Tess, now and always.

    Jannie Funster’s last blog post..Funny SEO Keywords, 3

  • Hilda June 22, 2009, 2:32 pm

    Hi Tess,

    What a beautiful tribute to your father, who sounds like an honourable man. Sending you love and light at this difficult time.

    Hilda’s last blog post..Don’t be afraid of making a mistake

  • Patricia June 22, 2009, 4:04 pm

    Lovely post and lovely ideas to share, Thank you.

    I lost my father 30 years ago and still miss him. I will write a post just for him in the future, for now I just share snippets.

    Hugs to you and your family – that good man will always be with you.

    Patricia’s last blog post..What Good are Fathers For?

  • Henie June 22, 2009, 6:09 pm

    Tess…

    I was compelled to come for a visit and now I know why! First of all, here’s a big hug and a kiss…losing someone you love dearly is a difficult transition no matter what.

    I so appreciate the gifts your father gave you through his life and teachings. Thank you for sharing those gifts with us!

    As far as the polka, my son grew up listening and dancing the polka. His paternal grandparents introduced him to it since he was a baby. Soon as the music played he would start dancing and it also helped put him go to sleep (I suppose the dancing tired him out!)

    Thank you for writing this wonderful tribute…I am sure he is beaming proud of you!

    Henie’s last blog post..My Father

  • Keith June 22, 2009, 6:38 pm

    Tess,

    Thank you for this article. I bet there were tears in your eyes as you wrote it, I know there would have been in mine. I am fortunate in that I still have my father and I am thankful for that. My father has taught me so very much and I think that much of the time he wasn’t even aware of it. There were times he would give me a direct lesson about something, but mostly he taught by example. I find myself quoting him to others all the time. My Dad is my hero. 🙂

    Your father seems like such a great Dad and while I know you’ll miss seeing him. I know he must be proud of you and is likely smiling at his daughter right now because she has shared her heart in this article and has many people thinking of their fathers’ as a result, and hopefully, appreciating them just a little bit more.

    My thoughts are toward you an your family.

    Sincerely,
    Keith

    Keith’s last blog post..Think Big!

  • RML - Being More Through Having Less June 23, 2009, 1:10 am

    What a beautiful post about your father- I loved reading it. My grandparents on both sides are also Polish and we had all the traditions passed down to us as well.

    I live a long way from my father at the moment, however this is a timely reminder to cherish him and let him know it, however far he may be.

    RML – Being More Through Having Less’s last blog post..Little Mini-Blitzes

  • Stacey Shipman June 23, 2009, 9:40 am

    Tess, this is such a lovely tribute to your dad. My father lives in FL, I live in MA and we weren’t together on Sunday. For the first time ever I was saddened. Your question about what I learned is something I need to write down. For years I thought “nothing”…but I know there is more. Thanks for bringing that out in this post.

    Dance seems to strike a chord with many people…and while I didn’t dance the polka I do remember my parents dancing disco in the kitchen after they took a lesson. Today I love dancing!

    My thoughts are with you.

    Stacey

    Stacey Shipman’s last blog post..Can You See the Bright Side on a Rainy Day?

  • Jennifer June 23, 2009, 10:36 am

    Tess, What a wonderful tribute to your dad! My heart goes out to you. Please know that I continue to pray for you during this time.

    I love and respect my dad so much. I know I will miss him greatly when that time comes. Until then I’m just going to love him.

    This post just made me feel good all over. It brought back so many memories of my childhood. Playing outside is truly a lost art these days. Those are most of the memories that I have from my childhood – playing outside. Oh how I miss it!

    Jennifer’s last blog post..The Power of NO

  • Chris Edgar | Purpose Power Coaching June 23, 2009, 11:21 am

    Thanks for this Tess. It sounds like your father had a rare sense of self-discipline and direction, and I get how he’s passed that on to you.

  • Tess The Bold Life June 23, 2009, 1:45 pm

    Thank you everyone for being so kind and leaving these loving messages. I’m feeling gratitude for each of you and I appreciate your kindness! Blessings to all. Tess

    Tess The Bold Life’s last blog post..My Father Died Last Week

  • Daphne @ Joyful Days June 23, 2009, 7:48 pm

    Tess,

    This is such a lovely post – full of acceptance and love and meaning. Your dad would love to read this from wherever he is or has become. He certainly raised a wonderful daughter, and so did something very right! And yet your quote is so powerful – in love there is no right and wrong, just a place to meet. Beautiful writing.

    Daphne @ Joyful Days’s last blog post..Your 24 Possible Personal Strengths

  • Shelly June 24, 2009, 4:03 am

    Mom,
    Very nice stories…………I can relate to dancing the polka with dad(your husband) at weddings or parties. Grandpa had an impact on all of us. His legacy of hard work, communication and celebration live on and may he rest in peace.
    XOXOXOXOXOXOXOXO

  • Jared | SpiritualZen.net June 24, 2009, 2:05 pm

    Tess,
    I’m sorry for your loss. What a gift to be able to look back at all the good things your father has pass on to you. The one I found the most amazing and valuable is asking for help. Wow, that hits home with me. My father was very much against accepting or asking for help and it caused me a lot of struggles myself later in life.

    I too was raised on an farm. An 80 Acre farm and had one sister. What a treat that was learning how to work hard.

    I’ve learned myself over the past few years how to understand my fathers love language.

    Thank you.

    Jared | SpiritualZen.net’s last blog post..Aha Moment: How a Simple Change in Behavior Can Increase Serenity

  • Mary June 24, 2009, 7:18 pm

    Tess,
    How nice that you can express yourself through the written word and you do it so well…..a very nice tribute to your father……….

  • Chania Girl June 28, 2009, 2:11 pm

    Tess, I am sorry I missed this post a week ago, but I wanted to express my condolences to you over the passing of your father. He sounds like an amazing man who left behind much in this legacy you’ve shared with us. I, unfortunately, do not have a similar story as you and am not in contact with my parents anymore. But I can appreciate the loss you must feel at having someone this vital to your life be no longer with you.

    This was a wonderful tribute to a wonderful man. Thank you for sharing it with us.

    Chania Girl’s last blog post..You’re Beautiful

  • Robin June 30, 2009, 8:40 pm

    Hi Tess – just dropping in to say my thoughts are with you, and what a lovely tribute you have written. My father passed away 2 years ago, at age 87.

    Robin’s last blog post..An Eventful Month

  • James Young October 15, 2009, 3:43 pm

    Hi Tess,

    I read your blogs all the time. For some odd reason I missed this one. I sorry to hear about your dad. I know he is in a better place. As my parents become older, I think about my life without them and I always find myself thinking about the memories of my childhood. Kristy talked about her granddad all the time and we often exchange stories of our experiences with our grandparents. Well anyway my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

    Take care

    James

  • James Young October 15, 2009, 3:46 pm

    I put the wrong email address. It’s jky73065@gmail.com

  • Mary Canfield January 7, 2010, 7:09 am

    I am just visiting for the first time, and I saw this. Tess, I’m sorry about your father, and I’m glad you healed your relationship with him!

    I lost my father nearly 6 years ago. He was almost 95! I was a Daddy’s Little Girl. He and my mother had that piece of sheet music. She used to play it on the piano, and he would sing that song to me and cry! I was just a little kid, but I sure understood how much he loved me. I understood it even better when I grew up and had my own child.

    Watch for signs. Your Dad will be around you. Talk to him; he will love that! I occasionally talk to my Dad. Blessings!

  • Tess The Bold Life January 7, 2010, 9:33 am

    Mary,
    Thanks for caring enough to read about my dad. Your memories sound absolutely wonderful. I’m looking for signs!
    .-= Tess The Bold Life´s last post…Local Grocery Store’s Happiest Employee =-.

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