A Letter to my Dad

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On the one-year anniversary of his death

By Ashley Mandanici | Twitter: @ashleymandanici

Dear Daddy,

It’s been a year, and nothing has changed. If I were still sitting by your bedside and you asked, “What did you do today sweetheart?” I would probably still respond with, “Not much; just worked.”

To be honest, things kind of stood still once you left. People told me it would be better by now. Some people told me it would take six months, somebody else told me four weeks. (My mother takes longer to grieve discontinued lip stick colours, so I knew that wasn’t true); and most people said a year. But they were all wrong.

I still miss you.

I still miss you every time I listen to Frank Sinatra. I just took him off my IPod now. I’ve had a few awkward moments at the gym where I hit shuffle, started my work out with a little “Black Eyed Peas” (they’re a band not a food) and ended up breaking down into tears on the treadmill singing “My Way.” I wanted to keep my membership, so I thought deleting Frank was the best decision.

I miss you every time I watch King of Queens. The way Arthur Spooner yells and shakes his fists in the air reminds me of that time on your birthday. Remember? You were still in the hospital and I asked you what you wanted for your birthday. You looked at me, threw your hands in the air and yelled: “FREEDOM!”

Sorry all I could get you was a White Spot hamburger.

I miss you every time I get coffee at Tim Hortons. I don’t go there as much anymore, now that you’re gone. I drink Starbucks now. I don’t like it as much, and it is significantly more expensive, but it hurts less, so I drink the stuff.

I miss you every time I ask someone for directions. I wish I could just call you. You loved giving me directions, and you always managed to make sure I didn’t get lost. It annoyed me when I was a teenager–how you insisted on going into mind-numbing detail about how to get from point A to point B. As I got older, I started realizing how much you loved it, so I just let you (even when I already knew where I was going). You were actually pretty impressive … even closer to the end when you didn’t know who I was; you still had fantastic accuracy when directing me out of Richmond.

Oh, and on that topic, I’m sorry I complained so much about driving out to see you. I really did love spending time with you; even if all we did was drink coffee and watch “Friends.” Even when I was grumpy because I was clipping your toenails, or brushing your dentures, know that I would do it all over again.

I’m sorry I got so frustrated with you when you were sick. It was hard coming to see you and having you introduce yourself to me anew each time. Although you were pretty funny that time you asked me my name and after I responded, you said, “Oh, my daughter’s name is Ashley!” Thanks for always thinking of me, even when you didn’t know I was standing right in front of you.

Thanks for always calling me, even though you didn’t  have any idea what to talk about with a 16-year-old daughter.

Thanks for coming to every singing and dance recital I ever did. I always figured that mom made you, but even when you two weren’t together anymore you came to every show. This means one of two things: one- you were well trained, or two- you really cared. I think it was a bit of both.

Thank you for buying me all the Backstreet Boys magazines my heart could ever dream of. Terrific waste of your money, really, but it sure did make me happy.

Thanks for always being early when you picked me up from school. I remember all my friends running up to tell me, “Your dad is here to pick you up, and it’s 3pm! Doesn’t he know you’re not done until 4:30pm?” I’d run out to the car to tell you that you’re way too early and your response was always, “I just didn’t want to be late for you.”

I’ll remember your advice. I won’t let anyone’s negative thinking bother me, I’ll take care of my car so she takes care of me, and I’ll be nice to my mother (well, I’ll try). I’ll remember that just because I’m arguing louder, doesn’t mean my argument is right, and I’ll buy more than just black clothes (but as I’ve explained to you numerous times, it’s a tremendously slimming shade).

It’s been a year—nothing has changed, and it won’t. I will still miss you at every birthday, every Christmas, and every time I eat at White Spot on a Friday. I will miss you when I get married, when I have kids, and every time I find a Backstreet Boys magazine tucked into a box labeled “fragile.”

With all my love,

Your peanut, Ashley

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

About Ashley:

My name is Ashley and I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Relate Church in Surrey, B.C. My mission is to develop the God-given potential in every child who crosses my path *Insert Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” here*. I love all things jazzy, particularly music, and I tend to break into song throughout the day for no apparent reason. I blog here and tweet @AshleyMandanici

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Ashley Mandanici
My name is Ashley and I am the Children’s Ministry Coordinator at Relate Church in Surrey, B.C. My mission is to develop the God-given potential in every child who crosses my path *Insert Whitney Houston’s “Greatest Love of All” here*. I love all things jazzy, particularly music, and I tend to break into song throughout the day for no apparent reason.
Ashley Mandanici

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Ashley Mandanici
  • Michele Henter

    You completely undid me this morning…

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Thanks for reading Michele, much appreciated 🙂

  • Daniela Schwartz

    Oh…..tears. He was a very blessed father to have to and we reap the benefits of his labours. Love you Ashley. xo

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Love you Daniela! Thanks for all your support through out! you’re a jem!

  • Hey love,

    I’m so glad we could spend a little bit of time together on the one year anniversary. Even if it was just sitting on the couch, covered up by the comfy quilt your sister crocheted, eating chips and raspberry salsa laughing at “Just Jack” on Will and Grace.

    And that last sentence “I will miss you…every time I find a Backstreet Boys magazine tucked into a box labeled “fragile.”

    S.l.a.y.e.d. me….

    Huggums,
    Teen

    • Ashley Mandanici

      I’ve been meaning to call/text/facebook/tweet/carrier pigeon you. Sheloves comment page wins! Thank you so much for coming over and letting me just “be” yet not have to “be” alone! you are a terrifically awesome friend, and I am thankful to God that you brought you into my life- you are amazing! love you.

  • Belle

    I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry Ashley….in the end, it was a bit of both. Funny enough, both cry and laughter bring on tears so perhaps they are meant to go together at times. It was such a pleasure meeting you here in Calgary…Blessings.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      LOVED getting to meet you Belle- I will always remember that trip- what a spectacular adventure, filled with new friends! Thanks so much for the read- and thank you again for hosting us crazies while we were being “watoto groupies” as Michelle and I have been affectionately calling it! haha.

  • Eliza B

    OH Smash, I love this and I love you.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      I love you!

  • Kelly Dawson

    moved…. moved to the secret place in the deep of my heart <3 kelly

    • Ashley Mandanici

      thanks kelly- i so appreciate you reading it! love ya!

  • Ashley, thank you for sharing something so precious as your journey through grief. Thank you for the courage to speak how big the miss really is. Plus, you are such a great writer. Belle expressed it well–we’re not sure if we need to laugh or cry … Your voice is beautiful. Love ya xoxo

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Aww thanks Idelette- that means a ton coming for you (you brilliant writer you!) Love you lots! Let’s have some adventures soon-i say we try to find a way to top that tea… i still can’t stop thinking about it… 🙂

  • Oh, my. LOVED this. Whoever told you that you will get ‘over’ losing your dad is cracked. (That’s a very old piece of slang that a person of your age will not understand – but it fits here.) You NEVER get over losing someone you love. It gets easier, it gets further away, the tears surprise you less often, but honey – they’ll still come. Mine has been gone six years and he was 87 when he died – and I still miss him, I still ‘talk’ to him, I still try to honor him in my heart. What kind of humans would we be if we got ‘over’ losing each other? Keep remembering, remembering all of it – the good, the bad and the ugly – it’s worth it and it keeps your dad a fully-orbed human instead of a half-hollow ghost that has all the reality of a plaster saint. And that’s really what we celebrate, isn’t it? That we loved a real human being and they loved us. Hallelujah!

    • Ashley Mandanici

      wow- that was beautifully put! thank you so much for those wise words (and i totally agree- that person was cracked! 🙂

  • Destiny

    Ashley you are exquisite. Thank you for sharing this. (((Hugs))).

    • Ashley Mandanici

      thanks Des- hugs right back at ya! 🙂

  • Oh wow …. so very moving … tears!! Beautiful writing from the heart.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      thank you so much! 🙂

  • Rebecca

    Thank you for writing this. It’s not often that I can say ‘I remember the details of this morning 10 years ago,’ but today I can say it in truth. I was home from university for the summer. It was my dad’s 50th birthday, and I came down to find him grinding coffee in the kitchen. His eyes were sparkling and he made me laugh and roll my eyes because he’d been up early and had shot (and killed) some pesky crows (really, what better way to start a birthday?). A few months later, our lives broke as he unexpectedly died. I’m thankful for the above comment: ‘What kind of humans would we be if we got ‘over’ losing each other?’

    I miss him so much. Girls need dads. May you know the peace of Jesus and His healing touch (healing, not erasing) as you walk this road.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      I agree- i think Diana should have co-wrote this with me! what kind of humans would we be? to know that “it gets easier, and further away” is comforting, along with knowing that getting the wind knocked out of you is the only way to remind your lungs how much they like the taste of air. in short- it makes us human. thanks so much for reading friend.

  • Beautiful post, Ashley. Thank you for sharing such intimate feelings and beautiful memories. Loved your honesty and I agree with Idelette – you are such a great writer!

    • Ashley Mandanici

      thank you so much steph! this was definitely a hard one to write but kind of therapeutic at the same time (which kind of made me wonder whether anyone would want to step into my own little therapy session- but i’m glad to see people still read it)

      i appreciate the kind words friend! 🙂 see you soon (for reals!)

  • Kortni

    That was beautiful Ash. So powerful, I’m a little lost for words right now. Great job! Thank you for sharing that letter.

    • Ashley Mandanici

      Thanks for reading friend! I really appreciate it! love ya!

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