Let’s Talk About Dead People

I read an article today that a friend sent me, which got me thinking about Fathers Day coming up. If you’ve been here for awhile you know that my dad passed away a couple years ago. I’ve written about death before, but never really my complete thoughts because I haven’t yet wrapped my head around how to fully write about it this topic + how I feel. But what I can do is break down little parts of it.

If you have a friend who has lost someone close, or in this case their father, chances are they do want to talk about it. I don’t mean the death itself always, but the person. Death brings about a social awkwardness because no one knows what to say because they can’t fix it + they don’t want to upset their friend. I’ve experienced it, we all have. I can’t speak for everyone, but more often than not, we WANT to talk about the person who has passed. Why has it become so normal to brush over them in conversation? To avoid it? So often we shy away from bringing these people up out of fear of upsetting our friend, but this weekend, or anytime really… try asking your friend about their person. What did they like? What made them laugh? What would they be doing now? Talking about our dear people who have passed keeps them somewhat with us. And giving your friend a space to talk about it….that means more than you know (+ maybe one day you will know when you have lost someone). You don’t have to fix anything they’re saying…just listen + learn about who they are missing dearly. It is a part of them.

So, while you didn’t ask, I’m going to share a little bit about my own dad….. 

  • He loved the heat. He was his happiest with his shirt off in the middle of summer, working in his garden all day 

  • When he ate something he really liked, you would know it. He’d sit there moaning in a way that was so obnoxious at the time, but I now miss dearly

  • He had a thing about weather, which led to my own fascination with it. During hurricanes, he’d stand on the front porch with his arms spread wide and yell “show me the magic!”. When there was a massive rain storm when I was younger he took my brother + I to the brook when we were little to see how strong the current got. Wednesday’s at 8pm we would watch storm stories on the weather channel together. 

  • He could fall asleep ANYWHERE. Sitting, standing, leaning. You name it, he slept that way.

  • He had a lot of pride for his life and the kids that he made. He often walked around looking quite boastful with his chest puffed out at times, which was always a little funny as he was a bit on the shorter side.

  • Becuase of this pride, I made the only decision in my life that I have ever regretted. I didn’t bring Jon to meet him while he was sick. I had an image in my mind of my Dad standing up and shaking Jon’s hand, which I also would have loved to see because my Dad was 5’7 maybe? and Jon is 6’4. But because meeting my Dad in a way where he could walk on his own, and get out of bed, and shake the hand of the man that I was so dearly in love with meant the world to me, as I know he would have preferred it that way as well. But I waited, and then it was too late.

  • He often said the wrong words for things, but he said it with such conviction that if you didn’t know better you would think it was a word. This coined the term “bob-isms”

  • If you missed his jungle boogie dance, I’m sorry. He had all the kids on the street doing it. At the block parties when I was a kid he’d be the first one dancing.

  • If you came over with a couple of beers, he’d sit out back with you all night long. He’d always find something to talk about. And that’s where he was happiest. Sitting out back on the patio he built, on the front porch or stoop hopping through the neighborhood. 

  • We could rarely go somewhere without him either knowing someone + talking forever OR him just walking up to someone + start talking. We once were waiting at a train together for an hour and there was an Indian man there who I had never heard of before, but my dad and him seemed like best friends.

  • If you just met him, you would feel like he was just an old friend. He had a way about him to make you feel so comfortable, that you’re just catching up with an old buddy.

  • He had to watch every movie at the highest volume the tv would go before exploding. This did make for some epic times of me being in my room painting my nails while Lord of the Rings music filled the house + made everything seem more exciting.

  • He just adored kids + babies. 

  • And dogs. Our dog Jack was his best bud….& he actually ended up passing away a couple months later. He was never the same after my dad died and I’m convinced he had a broken heart. 

  • Jack used to lay at the top of the stairs (right outside my bed room) and wait for dad to come home (I’m telling you, he was obsessed with the man).& I knew when Dad was home because I would just hear Jacks tail thumping the ground. Dad would meet him at the top of the stairs and always say to him “go see the girl. Go hang out in the girls room” and when he would leave he would remind jack to “protect the girl”. Even though we all knew he wasn’t much of a guard dog and was not even 1% as obsessed with me as he was with dad.

  • On Sundays, he used to go and get a box of donuts + a bag of bagels. He’d always get two chocolate frosted ones + they were both always for me.

  • I used to love coming home from CCD  to all the doors and windows being open in the house + rock music pouring out of it + dad inside on a ladder somewhere painting or fixing something while singing at the top of his lungs.

  • Dad had a serious thing for cookies. Particularly Oreos and ginger snaps.

  • He had fingernails that reminded me of mermaids or shells. I’m not sure if that makes sense, my best friend actually has similar ones. But more often than not he’d have dirt under his nails and I used to admire that, because I knew how hard he worked with his hands all day

  • He had a thing about Christmas and Christmas trees in particular. When he first met my mom, she had a fake Christmas tree in her house. Without saying a word, he went out and got her a real tree and threw out the fake one. Needless to say, there were only ever real trees in our home + they tended to get bigger as the years went on.

  • He was such a good hugger. There are just some people who have those great hugs you remember and he was one of them. He had this grip to his hugs that would just make you feel so epically loved.

  • He laughed. He laughed each day of his life. Weather a chuckle here and there or a deep belly laugh with his mouth wide open.

  • You could tell if he was about to tell a joke because you’d either hear him whisper to himself to practice it, or you’d see this certain look where he would start to smile or laugh to himself. My mom caught him whispering to himself and would say to him “How’d it sound Bob?” 

  • He was really bad at saying no to me. Every time after taking me to Irish Dance class he would drive to get me frosty from Wendy’s, whereas it was usually more of a fight to get Mom to take me 🙂

  • He loved the outdoors, which I think led to my love of it. He loved a long drive through the country, sleeping in the yard…a day spent hiking and in the sun. 

  • The man always had a flip phone. I love seeing men with flip phones now because it reminds me of how simple my dad wanted life to be. Not that he was stellar with figuring out an iPhone anyways.

  • He had a locksmith shop and a workspace in the basement as we were growing up. And to this day I love going to a hardware store because it has the same smell + is so comforting to me. 

  • He knew how to tell a story. We still aren’t sure about which ones were tall tales or not, but we always remember them. When we would spend time at the lake he would spend the entire day practicing and thinking about his ghost story to tell around the bonfire that night. They were so epic that I still remember the details to this day (the Witches island…the Children’s choir…)

  • Speaking of the lake, that’s where I feel most connected to him (Lake Wallenpaupack in PA to be specific or we called it Lake Wally for short). We went to the same cabin each summer right on the lake + I’d have to write an entirely new post on my memories there. But there were a ton. And now some of his ashes are there + I think he would be really happy about that. 

  • He would call you sweetheart + kiddo and it would make you feel so loved. 

  • He would leave you a voice mail and ask “how you doing?” And pause, as if to give you a moment to respond to his voicemail. I thank god dearly that I have these saved.

  • He was smart, and he loved to learn. It breaks my heart that he was never a teacher…history or poetry…he loved kids + he loved learning. I think he would have been one of the best teachers there ever was. 

  • He loved to read and learn so much that he bought the entire encyclopedia system for my brother + I before we were even born. Guess he wasn’t much of a fortune teller and didn’t realize the internet would be a thing. Who buys their unborn children encyclopedias? My dad. The man who respected learning about the world more than anyone I know. 

  • He was kind, and gentle and so fiercely fun.


To quote someone I love,

“And that’s who you missed. I’m sorry that you missed him. He made everyone’s lives better who knew him.” 

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One thought on “Let’s Talk About Dead People

  1. Karen Hogan Kent

    OH Carolyn!! That was so beautifully written, and I could picture your dad the whole way through it, even the parts I didn’t know (the encyclopedias!!). I know he is beaming over what you wrote and walking up around in heaven with his chest puffed out a bit. I think a little bit of pride is allowed in heaven because I think his pride came from a different place….I don’t think it came out from him. I think it came from you guys to him. Maybe that doesn’t make sense, but in my (unusual head) it does. I loved your father and love you!! Karen


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