I have often been inspired in my own life by those things that I encounter. I will never forget seeing the locket – shaped in a heart, opened to elegant text that read: I know you by heart. Thank you, Sarah DeShaw, for allowing me to photograph the locket at your wedding.
Today, and in recent days, this text plays over and over in my mind. And now, a tribute to my Dad:
I Know You by Heart
You have long offered a poem to those special in your life.
For this, you have brought both a tear and a chuckle from those of us who know you well.
You have written of your mother’s beloved red shoes, your Lady Hawke, of your pride in your children’s accomplishments, of your patients and military comrades.
Your handwriting is unmistakable, lives on in your son’s.
I know you by writing.
You painstakingly listened to my grammar and corrected each word, convinced that I would thank you some day:
“Dougie and I” instead of “me and Dougie” – the list went on and on.
You were right; I am thankful.
I know you by grammar.
Weekend after weekend, you schlepped me around the hospital on rounds.
It was my only way to see you, as you had thousands of patients.
I sometimes longed to be one, holding up my scraped knee or hangnail.
You gave me the same care as others, made me feel like I was your only patient.
The nurses respected you – and repeatedly pinched my cheeks.
I was proud to be Dr. Olson’s child anywhere I went – the store, school, babysitting.
I know you by work ethic.
You walked before me, handed one life lesson after the next.
Transitioning from professional to parent and back.
You had the courage to end a relationship that you knew you could not thrive within.
Encountering difficulties with lifelong friends, who you urged me to forgive.
Daring to dream, to start anew.
Procedure after procedure, mountain after mountain you climbed, saying all the while, “This too shall pass.”
Becoming a widow/widower gracefully. I still remember your call and your grief, my call and my own.
When I lost one husband and was sent another, you quickly dubbed him “The Angel” and “The Comforter”, opening your fatherly arms to his possibilities.
I know you by grace.
In the moments of weakness, of self doubt, you raised me up.
Yet you called me and dedicated the song “You Raise Me Up”, saying that I raise you up. I ended up needing that song in my weakest hour.
Your children and grandchildren have always been so capable in your eyes.
I can do anything, you would say. I still hear those words whispered in my ear.
I know you by love.
Black hair against striking blue eyes.
Although we do not have these same unusual features, your children and grandchildren can look into the mirror – into their own eyes – and see your own.
Your hands are unmistakable. Looking at the photos I took of them last weekend, I will be able to touch them forever in your sons’, for they have your hands.
We have all practiced your signature, pensive pose. We cannot do it as well as you yet, but will keep on trying.
I know you by features.
Know that you have been the Dad of my dreams.
You have lit my path and inspired me to persevere.
You ignited my love of photographs from a young age, daring to guide this redhead’s earliest compositions.
And now, as your donor heart fades and you cannot accept another:
Let mine beat for you, let me live on for you.
I know you by heart.
As with the tradition that I began when Grandpa died years ago, I sampled the world on the day of your death. It is beautiful, lined with autumn golds and oranges. The perfect send off — and calling:
Love from, Your Daughter