Posted in Father

Lost words

The text came from nowhere, jarring me from present to past in an instant.

Words, from Maine to California.

From my brother…

Cleaning out mom’s attic. Were u ever looking for your dad’s old Vietnam diary?

No… I wasn’t looking for it.

Because I didn’t even know it existed.

I’ve spent my life wishing for something… anything… that could help me to know him in some way and in an instant, that became possible.

K. found some stuff. i’ll set it aside n ship it 2 u.

How did I not know it even existed? Did I ever ask my mom? Did she forget she had it? Is there something between those covers that she didn’t think I was ready to read?

Everything I know about my dad has been told to me by someone else… filtered through their own experiences and love for him.


Though I’ve longed to know what my dad thought of me… of being a parent… of how he viewed his world, I’m preparing myself for much less.

Yet, somehow, maybe more.

Maybe it will be filled with what he ate, music he loved, places he visited.

Maybe I’ll find clues to who he was. Hints at the way he and I are alike… the parts of who I am that are hardwired… handed to me at birth, before he could teach and influence me.

I’ve longed to find some tangible thread to connect us.

Waiting for my brother to mail to me the very thing that I’ve grieved the non-existence of is truly excruciating.

I didn’t ask him what it says. I won’t because I can’t.

Hearing his words over the phone would cheapen them, somehow.

Even if they simply read, “It was hot today. Had a ham sandwich for lunch.”

Somehow, even the simplicity of that will be enough.

But, now I wait.

Whole again

Creative Alliance '12

Photo courtesy of Suebob Davis

I’ve written about my father here before.

I’ve shared my grief and my efforts to work through my sadness.

And I worried that you might be growing weary of hearing about it.

So, I stopped writing about him.

I stopped sharing the waves of my sadness and I bottled it up inside, where it became trapped, until two weeks ago, when I stood in front of my peers at Creative Alliance ’12 and read the first substantial piece that I ever wrote about my father.

And I felt freed of a piece of my sadness.

Standing there, giving voice to my grief was cathartic.

Not long ago, I read a quote from On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss that gave me permission to grieve both privately and publicly.

The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not ‘get over’ the loss of a loved one; you will learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.

It was that quote that pushed me to submit my piece the the Listen to Your Mother “Say It” Salon at Creative Alliance ’12.

It helped me to recognize that it’s okay to feel what I’m feeling.

Thank you, Ann Imig, Leane Vandeman and Andrea Fellman for providing a warm and supportive environment for my words.

Thank you to all of the amazing women who sat and listened and smiled and cried with me.

And if I become fearful or trapped or lonely, I will sit quietly and watch this video from Suebob Davis that captures the magic of Creative Alliance ’12.

And I will be grateful.


Connection, acceptance and gratitude

brene brown quote, Creative Alliance '12, connection, inspiring quotesSince arriving home on Sunday, I’ve been struggling to find a way to share my Creative Alliance ’12 experience with you.

I’ve searched for words with enough weight to convey how one weekend changed me from the inside.

But each time I think I’m getting close to finding a way to convey how impactful the experience was, my words evaporate before I can write them down.

I’ve decided that sometimes trying to put something so powerful into words somehow diminishes it.

Nothing I can say here can do the experience justice.

But what I will say is that I feel new. Tired, but new.

I headed into the experience feeling blocked, overwhelmed and discouraged.

When it was my turn to share my reasons for attending, I said through tears, “I used to be a writer, but I’m not anymore. And I want to be.”

And over the weekend, I felt a shift.

With each conversation, it felt as though a piece of me woke up.

Since coming home, I have:

  • danced in the living room with my children in the middle of the afternoon.
  • begun reading again; I started with Robin O’Bryant’s Ketchup is a Vegetable: And Other Lies Moms Tell Themselves and have also ordered Molly Campbell’s Characters in Search of a Novel.
  • been inspired to make a meal that required shopping for ingredients and following a new recipe.
  • laid on my bed, thinking only of how lovely the steady breeze from the ceiling fan felt on my face.
  • put my iPhone down more than I ever have.
  • laced up my running shoes and, for the first time in a long time, went for a run.
  • picked up a pen and wrote my thoughts down on paper…just for myself.
  • let go of another chunk of my grief.
  • breathed.

There in Ojai, I felt a connection that I simply can’t describe, but this quote conveys it perfectly:

I define connection as the energy that exists between people when they feel seen, heard, and valued; when they can give and receive without judgment; and when they derive sustenance and strength from the relationship. –Brene Brown

Yes…that. Exactly that.

Thank you to each of the women who attended Creative Alliance ’12. You are each magical, brave, creative and brilliant.

And I am so grateful to call you my friends.

A letter to my father on Father’s Day…

Dear Dad,

Is that what I would call you now? Or would I be one of those girls who, as a grown woman, still called you Daddy?

Would I have taken you to lunch today to celebrate you on your special day? Would we have laughed and talked together over a beer?

In my mind, I see us sitting across the table from one another, looking into identical blue eyes.

I think we would have enjoyed each other…found countless similarities in one another.

How I wish I had even one Father’s Day memory with you.

I never made you a card. Never scrawled my name across construction paper for you.

I never made you macaroni art or gave you a tie that you didn’t really want.

I never chose a card for you or wrapped a gift with far too much tape.

But you’ve always been here in my heart.

There’s a spot there that will forever be yours. It is in that spot where my imagination conjures up what it would have been like to give you bear hugs, shower you with kisses, turn to for advice.

It is that spot that makes me hold on to the notion of a heaven.. a place where I could spend eternity thanking you…for all of the gifts that you gave me even after you were gone…my sense of humor, my self-confidence, my ability to see all the potential that this world holds, and my gratitude for the beauty in my life.

I carry these gifts from you that make me who I am. And I hope that in our short time together on this earth, I gave you gifts that changed you as well.

Because even though you’re gone, my heart bursts with love for you,



Treasured family photos

The last time I went home to Maine, I sat with my grandmother for hours at her kitchen table, while we went through her photo albums and boxes of loose photos.

She named the people in each photo and shared stories of her life with me.

And in those moments, it felt as though she was trying to pass those stories on to me so that they would live on with me.

She told me that one day many of those photos would be mine, as she will divvy them up amongst her children and grandchildren.

What a difficult process that must be for her.

Which one of her grandchildren should get the photo of their grandfather sitting in his Adirondack chair on the back lawn in the late summer sun?

Which of us should get the photo of our Uncle Bobby, whose daughters both died last year from breast cancer?

And who will get that photo of my grandmother, holding her favorite doll, with her eyes looking straight into the camera with a sparkle that’s still there after all these years?

How do you make those choices?

Or how about that baby photo above? That’s me when I wasn’t yet a year old. My mother gave it to me several years ago. But should that photo be mine or hers? As both a daughter and a mother, I can’t say that I know.

From the moment I learned of LiveOn Rewind, I thought it was a remarkable service. To think that I could send away those photos of my father and have them stored digitally helped me to few them as less fragile.

But, that led to thoughts of that day with my grandmother, as she carefully wrote on the back of each photo who they should one day go to. What if she didn’t have to choose?

And what if both my mother and I could have my baby photos? They’re as much hers as they are mine.

What if each of us could have those special photos…those pictures of the people who made us who we are today?

LiveOn Rewind gives families that option.

Today, we can easily attach a photo to an email and send it out to our entire family.

And if we digitized those old, fragile, faded pre-digital camera photos, we could share those too.

No one should have to choose who to whom each of their treasured photos should go.

By converting those photos to digital images with LiveOn Rewind, entire families can have those images.

And that’s a pretty amazing thing.

If you’d like your family to be able to share all of those old photos, here’s a special code that will get you 30% off LiveOn Rewind’s photo scanning and video conversion services: cgc66

Thank you to LiveOn for sponsoring this blog post. Please LiveOn to learn more about sharing and preserving your most important memories. I was selected for this sponsorship by Clever Girls Collective. Although story ideas were provided, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

About me

Nichole Beaudry @NicholeBeaudry Location: Northern California
Each and every day, I strive to appreciate the wonder, beauty, and whimsy in the small moments, the moments that, when strung together, form a lifetime.
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