The Living Years

June 14th, 2012


Every generation
Blames the one before
And all of their frustrations
Come beating on your door

I know that I’m a prisoner
To all my father held so dear
I know that I’m a hostage
To all his hopes and fears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years

Crumpled bits of paper
Filled with imperfect thought
Stilted conversations
I’m afraid that’s all we’ve got

You say you just don’t see it
He says it’s perfect sense
You just can’t get agreement
In this present tense
We all talk a different language
Talking in defence

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

So we open up a quarrel
Between the present and the past
We only sacrifice the future
It’s the bitterness that lasts

So don’t yield to the fortunes
You sometimes see as fate
It may have a new perspective
On a different day
And if you don’t give up,
And don’t give in
You may just be OK

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

I wasn’t there that morning
When my father passed away
I didn’t get to tell him
All the things I had to say.
I think I caught his spirit
Later that same year
I’m sure I heard his echo
In my baby’s new born tears
I just wish I could have told him
In the living years

Say it loud, say it clear
You can listen as well as you hear
It’s too late when we die
To admit we don’t see eye to eye

This is a photo I took when I went home just before my Dad’s surgery last month.  My father passed away this morning. In a way I feel like I’ve been preparing for this day my whole life. Every conversation my Dad and I had in the last few years included statements from him like, “I’m not going to be around much longer” and “I don’t have much time left.” My personal favorite was:

“What are you going to do when I’m gone?”

I used to fear that I would feel so lost and alone when he died. But I feel neither. I feel sorrow, of course. But I don’t have any regrets, other than I knew how much it would have meant for him to have me move home. I think he always feared that he would go suddenly and I wouldn’t have a chance to say goodbye.

When I was leaving for my train last week, I remembered I hadn’t said good bye (in the short term sense) to my Dad. So I hustled back to the ICU unit. For the first time since being there, I had my father to myself. I kissed his hand and told him I loved him. And for the past week and a half I’ve just been…disturbingly composed about all of this. The finality. The inevitable. This day was always going to come. I knew that.

I left my softball glove on his bedside. That was “our” thing. Softball. Sports. I can remember him taking me out to the cul de sac on our street to play catch. He had decided to teach me how to catch fast balls. One of them hopped off my glove and caught me in the mouth.It knocked me back on to the tarred street, where I sat and cried. Because I was a girl. My father came over to me and told me to get up. He check out my face and said there was no blood and I still had all my teeth. Then he told me to get back into position. I refused. He was adamant. We were not going inside until I at least tried to catch another fast ball. Eventually, after some initial skittishness, I did. I realized many years later why he did that. Had I given up, it would be that much harder for me to try again.

This whole time I haven’t been able to not work. It’s just not in me to do nothing. I feared I was too detached. Or maybe I was just resigned to this. Or maybe I just wasn’t afraid. Death is a part of life, he was known to say. What’s done is done. Very matter of fact. (Shocking, I know.) But I’m grateful for that.

This song, The Living Years, always reminded me of my relationship with my dad. It was…contentious. Loving, too. I think my father placed expectations on me that he didn’t put on my sisters. I know that I’m a prisoner/To all he held so dear/I know that I’m a hostage/To all his hopes and fears.

My father never cared much for complacency. I suppose that’s why he rarely offered praise or compliments. He wanted me to work harder, to always improve. Because he knew I could. Because he knew what I was capable of so much and wanted to see me achieve that.

So now I will rise to the challenge.

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39 Responses to “The Living Years”

  1. Amy Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss, Chris. But how wonderful the legacy that lives within you from your dad. He will always be a part of you and live on through you and your family.
    I hope that your memories of him (love the story of the fast ball) and the closeness of your family bring some comfort.

  2. Snowflake Says:

    Your post struck a huge cord inside me. Thank you for sharing this Chris. To you, your step-mom and your sisters, my deepest condolonces. ((hugs))


  3. Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

    Thank you. Could I ask a huge favor? Can people please not refer to me by Chris? I prefer Moxie here. Thanks.

  4. joe-f Says:

    My deepest condolences Moxie

  5. John Says:

    Leaving your softball glove at his side is such an inspiring story. I dont know if you still use that glove, but if you dont, you can bury it with him. Your memories of him will always remind you of him. But if he had something of yours in his final resting place, then he will always have something that will remind him of you. And that will make you feel good.

    While not exactly the same thing, leaving something of yours to take with him will make you feel good. When my Grandfather died about 10 years ago, I had Springsteen tickets ( I am a fanatic). I felt like it was wrong to go to the concert on the day we buried him. So I put the tickets in his shirt pocket and they were buried with him. I felt tlike that was a way of me always still being with him and it makes me feel good to this day that I did that.

    I have a feeling that softball glove will mean a lot to him and years from now, it will meam a lot to you too.

    Hang in there.


    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      That’s the plan. I had always planned to put my glove in his casket.

      Jesus. Morbid, much? Ok folks…let’s try and lighten things up. Go to the coffee talk thread and tell funny stories. Pronto!

  6. dimplz Says:

    I’m sad for you, but happy that he’s made his way home. I hope that doesn’t offend you. May he rest in peace now.

    • Andthatswhyyouresingle Says:

      Of course it doesn’t. He is at peace, and I believe with all my heart that he is home.

  7. Craig Says:

    Sorry for your loss Moxie. Sounds like even as a little girl, the old man was already getting you ready for the realities of life instead of sheltering and spoiling you. In which case, he served you well.

    As for your reaction to this, I don’t think you’re too detached or resigned to this. You may just be going through the first stage of grief. You may or may not go through the other four. In any event, continuing to work will be good for you because all of us knuckleheads aren’t going anywhere…and you’ll thus never be going through this alone.

  8. Speed Says:

    I am extremely sorry for your loss, Moxie. All my prayers are with you and your family.

  9. AP Says:

    Beautifully written! My deepest condolences to you, Moxie…I know you will do your father proud.

  10. wishing u well Says:

    Oh, Moxie. I had hoped for a better outcome. I’m deeply sorry for your loss, and my prayers and best wishes go out to you and your family.

  11. Selena Says:

    Thank you for sharing this post in such a difficult time. It hit home with me with my own father.


  12. Erin Says:

    I am so sorry Chris. My heart aches for you for the loss of your Beloved DAD! I know he will live in your heart forever and I know you are grateful for all your wonderful memories. I am glad you were in a position to spend this time with your DAD and you had your visit with him last month. The photo YOU posted of you and your DAD is simply the picture of the love between a Father and Daughter, Just Beautiful. I probably love photos more than anyone and appreciate the beauty of simple yet meaningful photos. I feel like this is a photo that speaks to you and will bring you a lot of happiness in the future. I pray for God to give you all the strength you need in the coming days and weeks.

    Not knowing your family hopefully this will NOT be an issue for you, but, if people say stupid things to you please know I think most people have their heart in the right place but just don’t know what to say. With both my DAD and BROTHER some people said the most stupid things that were infuriating at the time. Other people pointed out to me that people just don’t know what to say and often say inappropriate things.

    Thanks for sharing the story of the glove. YES, your DAD sure did know what he was doing. Again, I believe a lot of your strength and determination must come from the great man you call DAD!!! It has always seemed like you shared an incredibly special bond with your DAD. It is my absolute belief those bonds are not broken in death. When you mentioned your DAD expected more of you than from others, just guessing with an objective opinion, I think your DAD probably saw more of himself in YOU than he saw in anyone else. I think that drove him to drive you to truly be the best you can be and I am certain your DAD was so very proud of you. It would make him smile to know that you kept working and indeed YOU will rise to the challenge.

    My thoughts and prayers are with YOU and your family.

  13. LT Says:


    I’m very sorry for your loss. My condolences go out to you and your family.

    My prayers are with you, your step-mother and sisters.

  14. Jalyn Says:

    My deepest condolences on your loss, and my heartfelt thanks for your courage and insight.

  15. Isaac Says:

    Being 48 and single, I sometimes want to just sit down on the curb and cry, as you did from that fastball. Many of your posts are about sucking it up and getting on with one’s life, with or without romance. It isn’t easy for any of us, but your column helps. Maybe your dad helped more than he knew that day.
    Thanks for letting us into your world.
    — Isaac

  16. Jen Says:

    I just had to drop by and offer my condolences. Even though you knew this was going to happen I’m sure it doesn’t make it any easier. xx

  17. mari Says:


    My thoughts are with you and your family.
    Glad you were there to say goodbye.

  18. Steve From the City Next Door Says:

    My condolonces.

  19. LostSailor Says:

    Moxie: So sorry about your Dad. From what you’ve written about him, he sounds like a unique man, one I’d hope to emulate. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

  20. daisy Says:

    I just saw this, C, and I wanted to express my deepest condolences. I know how much he meant to you.

  21. Firedog Says:

    My condolences on the loss of your Dad.

  22. RC Says:

    My deepest condolences – my heart goes out to you and your family.

  23. Trish Says:

    I’m sorry for your loss. My father passed 5 years ago June 10th.

    At the wake, my sister and I tucked something in my dad’s suit jacket that had meaning to all of us.
    It makes us smile when we think about it.

    You were a blessing to you father.

    Peace to you at this time.

  24. nathan Says:

    Sorry to hear about your father. All my best to you and your family. Take care.

  25. Sam Says:

    Moxie, my deepest sympathy to you and your family for your loss. My Dad is getting close to the end and I hope I can be as strong as you are. I guess that was a legacy he gave you.

  26. WildJoeCool Says:

    Yes Moxie, there is sorrow and loss. I’m so sorry.
    BUT… Hallelujah, what a GREAT Dad. What a father to have touched your life in so many ways.

    Damn. Father’s day is going to sting like hell Sunday. Sorry about that.

    Anyway… THANK YOU for sharing so much of yourself with all of us. I’ve stuck with reading this blog far longer than any other.

    The goose bumps that stood up as I read the song lyrics were huge. Just saying the phrase, “I just wish I could have told him… In the living years,” brings an instant lump in my throat. My dad died from a car wreck when I was 13. I’m SO glad you got to share so many more living years. Now you will only know how priceless they will be to you…

    And if you don’t give up,
    And don’t give in
    You may just be OK

  27. Joey Giraud Says:

    Condolences Moxie. Beautiful poem.

    For what it’s worth, I lost a very close and dear elderly aunt a few months ago, it was a sudden accident with no opportunity to say goodbye. I’ve found one thing to be helpful; taking note of all the things I do, say and think that are just like her. It reminds me that she’s not so much gone, I keep her around with who I am.

  28. chillybeans Says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your story about the glove.
    I miss my dad terribly, he has been gone 8 years.
    He grew up with 4 sisters, and he really “got” women. He was like both parents to me since my mother was an addict.
    Anyway, here’s a dad and dating story you may enjoy.
    When I would come home from school in the Summer in the 80s and go out on dates, my dad would always slip me a $20. It was understood that was my “emergency cab fare” home, in case the date went South. He didn’t want me to be in a situation where I was dependent on a ride home from someone who might not treat me well. It made me feel less dependent and more in control. A good lesson for dating and relationships.

  29. Michelle Says:

    Very sorry for your loss

  30. Howard Says:

    My condolonces! Go ahead and grieve fully. It’s better to do that. No matter how much we see these things coming, the actuality still represents enormous loss and disorientation. I certainly don’t look forward to the same, having a dad that is not doing too well. My heart goes out to you.

  31. ~Kabe Says:

    I am so, so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing the beautiful stories about your father.

    I hope that you are gentle with yourself over the next several months. Your grief is yours — whether you cope by working, by doing things for others, or having a full-on, ugly cry breakdown in the middle of the street. It might come when you least expect it. Ignore the people who have an expectation of how grief looks and the progression it “should” take. There will be those who will smother you with platitudes and those who think you should be over it way too soon. My heart aches for the hurt those people might cause you.

    Keep this as a refrain:
    Your grief is yours.
    Be gentle with yourself.

    Condolences to the rest of your family as well,
    — another girl who knows what it’s like to lose her parents too young

  32. Trouble Says:


    I’m sorry for your loss. I have loved hearing your stories about your dad here for the last few years, and he clearly was a wonderful man who had a great impact on many people. I know his legacy will live on in you. It sounds like the two of you had a special relationship. I appreciate that he pushed you to do the difficult thing, clearly he always knew you could.

    We mourn the way we mourn, in whatever way that manifests. We are all different, and it comes out in different ways.

    Sometimes in sadness, sometimes in just enjoying the memories of all of the good times.

    blessings to you.

  33. Saywhat! Says:

    My condolences Mox.

  34. Rosie Says:

    I am so sorry to hear about your dad’s passing, Moxie. You had such a wonderful, rich relationship with him. I love the photo of the two of you together – you definitely have his kind smile. May your warm memories provide you with comfort during this difficult time. He was very lucky to have you as a daughter!

  35. LizM Says:


    I haven’t been to visit the website in quite some time. For some reason, I found myself thinking about ATWYS and wondered what kind of topics you’ve been covering and how everything is going. So, I came to visit–and just read this post. I’m so sorry for the loss of your dad. Thank you for sharing this post about it. I can understand what you wrote about your dad putting expectations on you that he didn’t place on your siblings. He knew what you could do if you set your mind to it.

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