What’s missing?

Listening to a talk radio show on my way home from a doctor’s appointment this afternoon, a very interesting question was posed to the audience.  Lots of people were calling in with their answers.  In light of the state of the economy, many responses focused on disposable income, canceled vacations, even employment.  But what immediately came to my mind was something entirely different.

This is the question:  If you had to name one thing that is missing from your life, what would it be?

I didn’t have to think at all.  The answer is my father.  My dad died 33 years ago, and not a day goes by that I don’t think of him.  Miss him.  Talk to him.  As I was driving,  the sun was making the interior of my car so warm, so wonderful, so perfect… like a giant hug.  And I realized that this giant, warm, wonderful hug is my dad’s legacy.  My earliest memories of my dad are his giant hugs.  I always felt so safe.  So cared for.  So loved.  Even when I was in big, big trouble (like when I tore my brand new winter coat), my dad always found  his way to give me a big hug when the proper time had elapsed for the punishment to have sunken in.  My dad’s childhood was hard… he worked his parents’ farm in Michigan.  At age 16 he tried to enlist in the United States Navy.  He was sent home to wait until he turned 17.  But he somehow realized that personal connections were the truth of existence.  He was a brilliant man.  He could fix anything.  Our old cars.  Our plumbing.  Our leaky roof.  He taught himself to fix things.  Most especially, he could fix your spirit.  That is what I miss so terribly.

When I arrived home today, I went straight to my attic to find the oldest of my family photo albums.  I carefully opened and turned each tattered page… as those shiny black photo corners became unglued and fell all over me.  And as each photo came to life, I saw an amazing pattern.  In each photo of me as a child, my dad was bent on one knee.  To my level.  This is the connection.  This is the love.  This is the miracle.  This is how he connected to me on such a spiritual level.  This is how he connected with the world.  I even found a photo of my dad hugging my childhood family dog, Chippy.  On one knee.

My dad looked at me.  He met my eyes.  He listened to me.  He loved me.  He still does.

But those warm, wonderful hugs from a warm, wonderful man…  I will miss these forever.

This last photo is my dad and me on my 22nd birthday.  He didn’t live to see me turn 23.  He died of sudden cardiac arrest at age 47.  But what I do have are memories.  Photos.  And an angel guiding me and loving me and yes, hugging me. Yes, sometimes in the form of the warm wonderful sun enveloping me as I drive my car.

In one way, I think I am the luckiest daughter in the whole world to have experienced this great love of a dad and his only daughter.  But oh, God… do I miss him.  Yes, my dad is what is miss.   Every single day.

Now… if you had to name one thing that is missing from your life, what would it be?  I’d love to hear.

What’s missing? was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto
SHOWHIDE Comments (28)
  1. This touched my heart. Just imagining what life would be like if I could have my daddy back was a bitter-sweet afternoon day dream.
    To be able to compare Princess’s eyes to his and see if he and Honey have the same color because my memory and pictures just couldn’t capture it.
    To see him and my mom walking hand-in-hand. To be around that small, quiet, selfless, practical yet extra warm and loving man again? After 23 years so hard to imagine but I’m sure it would be wonderful.

  2. Sharon – What a moving post … My missing thing is also my dad, who died just 0ver a year and a half ago … Your fond memories brought back some of my own and made me smile … Thank you for that!!

  3. Beautiful thoughts about your dad. Your dad sounds a lot like mine, and you’ve reminded me just how lucky I am to still have him here. Oh and 22 year old you? TOTAL hottie! Not that I’m surprised, because you still are. You must’ve driven those boys crazy when you first started teaching!
    What I miss the most is my best friend from high school. We were as close as any two could be, and he helped me through so much. When I went away to college, he stayed, and when I started dating Shane, things got tense between us. Eventually, we ended our friendship on a very sour note. I’ve tried to reconnect with him several times, but I’m always rebuffed. I’ve accepted that we won’t be friends again, but there are some days when I really miss his friendship because I’ve never had a friend quite like him.

  4. Sharon, one day I hope you will write a book. I’m being completely serious. Your memories are the most beautiful I’ve ever heard. This post warms my heart. I’d have to say that the one thing I’m missing is my Pa Pete. Without sounding like a broken record here, I would just love to see him with my kids.

  5. Mom,
    This moved me to tears. I wish I had memories with Grandpa. But I know he lives on in you. And in your warm hugs. And loving eyes.
    Love you,

  6. What a sweet tribute!

    My missing thing is also my dad. He’s been gone now 2.5 years and I not only miss him for my own personal hugs, but for those hugs my kids will never feel. I know he is smiling down and hugging us in the way that he can.

  7. Sharon – your story moved me and also corrected my vision. I tend to focus on the economy and think that what is missing are the gobs of money in the bank and the loss that my retirement fund has reflected – when truly – those are just “things” and a misguided sense of self. What truly is missing from my life are those I no longer have to hug and hold and a connection with those loved ones that still surround me that I take for granted. Thanks for reminding me of what my priorities should be. Thank you.

  8. Sharon,
    What a beautiful post. This probably wasn’t easy for you to sit down and write, so thank you so much for sharing your story. I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m 31 and my Dad passed away from cancer 2 years ago, and there isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t miss him terribly. He was, and is, the light of my life. He sounds alot like your Dad – a jack of all trades, and someone who would make everything better – really, everything he said and did just made so much sense! He was so smart, had an amazing spirit and a heart bigger than the moon. I too consider myself beyond lucky to be his daughter and for him to be MY father.

  9. I so wish I had the chance to meet Grandpa. I know he wanted grandchildren more than anything, but he certainly lives on in you and the wonderful qualities he passed on to you.

    Missing in my life, of course, is my Bismarck. But like you talk to your father every day, I talk to Bismarck every day, and know he is with me at all times. And I know he sent Seth to us; all of us… me, Steve, Ryder, you, Dad and everyone else in our family. But I still am missing him.


  10. I have to agree with Audrey on this one. I am the proud mother of three boys, and I love each of them dearly and desperately. But if I am truthful with myself, there is a deep longing in my heart for a little girl. I so long for a little girl to put in pigtails, to teach to quilt, to pass my wedding rings on to when I am gone, to have that special mother daughter bond with.

    My husband and I are done having kids, so it hurts-more than a little-that this will not come to be. But I guess sometimes we just have to deal with the missing, and focus on what we do have.

    Thanks for the post and pictures on your dad. It was beautiful. I love your blog Sharon!

  11. I have to tell you that this really touched me because my mom is currently in a fight for her life (giant cerebral aneurysm discovered at 53), and she has always been my best friend. She suffered a stroke two weeks into recovery from surgery, and has been in neuro-ICU for 41 days. I miss her so much it hurts. Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post about a wonderful man.

  12. Beautifully written. I feel the love.

    What’s missing in my life– my daughter Sara, my husband and father to my children, and my dad.

    Thanks for sharing. It helps.

  13. Thank you for sharing memories of your great father. I love the pictures. Ok Sharon, you reminded me today that I need to hug my dad extra hard the next time I see him. I am a daddy’s girl and my mom told me that I light up his world every time I come around him. He still sees me as his little girl, even though I am 52. I think the only thing missing in my life is my wonderful mother-in-law who passed away. She was my best friend and I truly do miss her. I would love for my grand-children to meet her.

  14. That last picture of you and your father is so beautiful, but knowing it’s the last picture taken of you two, breaks my heart. Every time you write about your Dad, you truly portray what a great man he was. We are witnesses to his greatness all of the time because we can see YOU and read YOU and know YOU.

    And you know what’s missing from my life. But thanks to people like you, my heart is full everyday.

  15. Beautiful post! I wish I had a chance to meet him, but I feel like I know him. Although I never met him, he’s on the short list of people I call to for strength and guidance because I know how much he loves your daughter.

    It’s hard to think about what I’m missing, having been blessed with a beautiful wife and four perfect little boys, but I would like to see Audrey with a daughter. I’d bet my life that Nana’s working on that.


  16. Your family is amazing. I especially love reading all your comments to each other on these blog posts. What you all have together is just so special.

    Like Audrey, I’m missing that little girl I never had (and never will have). Her name would be Lydia.

  17. what’s missing from my life? A dad who loves me and respects me and is proud of me. A dad who gives a damn about me. My father is still alive and I wish every day he cared about me even a little. What a beautiful post and a beautiful relationship you had. Thank you for sharing this.

  18. Oh gosh Sharon, this brought tears to my eyes. I somehow feel what you feel. I lost my Dad when I was 21.

    Today I can’t help but be thankful that for 22 years of my life, I felt so loved.

    Thinking of you.

  19. I need a tissue.

    My father is missing from my life also but not because he passed. He simply was a horrible person and I had to cut him out of my life in order to live a happy normal life.

    I do miss what could have been had he been a different person.


  20. You are so blessed to have had a great relationship like that with your Dad. If I would have to name the one thing that is missing from my life it would be family. Not because they’re gone from this world, but because there was no connection. Not a deep one anyway. I think that has definitely shaped who I’ve become, and sadly, I think some of the negative aspects of that in my life are shaping who my girls are becoming. The good thing is that there is grace. God is able to fill in the blanks, not only in my life, but in my girls. So, when I look at it in that respect, I have my Father God, so I am not missing a thing!

  21. Your article brought back many family memories that we shared over the years. I remember you always saying “I think of my father everyday”and sometimes I wondered why do you think of him after all these years? The answer to my question came the morning when I returned to school after my father’s death (6 years ago on 10/24/02) . As soon as we greeted each other I said that I also think of my father everyday. Now, years later,I realize the impact of those familiar 6 words that you shared with me. He has
    watched me from above and has guided me through this difficult summer. I am certain Caroline is sitting on his knee and reminds him to watch over his first grandchild and send her strength and courage along with warm hugs!

What’s missing? was last modified: February 9th, 2010 by Sharon Couto