Goodbye to Dad

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Dad Taking His First Look at the Grand Canyon in 2010

Yesterday was a tough day. From the first look at the notifications on my phone, I woke up sad about the news of the terrorist attacks in Belgium. My heart goes out to Belgium, my Belgian friends, Europe and to all of humanity in general. It’s hard not to feel down about the state of world affairs today.

I headed out to ski–to teach a lesson to a little boy I had been with the past few days–and experienced the worst day on the mountain of this season. It was windy, icy and horribly bleak. Fortunately I was skiing with a joyful six-year-old who was thrilled to be on the hill, no matter the conditions.

We stopped for a hot chocolate break. I settled my little guy into his seat at the table with another instructor and his young charge. Just as I was plopping the marshmallows into the chocolate at the beverage counter, I got the call. Yes, THE CALL. The one I had always dreaded, the one that informed me of the passing of my father. It was, of course, from Mom. We spoke no more than a couple of minutes and although this was unexpected news, I got it right away. Mom and I connected on this and then we let each other go.

I almost passed my boy off to another instructor but I decided to keep him; I chose to complete my assignment, largely because we had done some serious bonding and I didn’t want the last part of his Telluride Ski School experience to be with someone new. I shed some tears with other members of my Ski School family while my little dude twirled ice cubes in his frothy drink. We then headed out to ski.

I knew, too, that I wanted to do some turns for Dad. I knew it was the ultimate escapism from such painful news but it also felt like the best tribute ever to the father I loved so dearly.

I’m doing turns for you, Dad, I thought to myself as my skis spliced through the by now creamy slush of snow. I looked behind me and saw my child bob over the uneven terrain, intent on practicing his “S” turns, smiling into the wind like he didn’t have a care in the world. This lifted my spirits and best of all it reminded me of the happiness I felt skiing as a kid, how excited I was when Dad showed up at one of my swim meets, the thrill I felt when my father let go of the bike and I pedaled on my own for the first time, finding my sweet spot of near-perfect balance without the assistance of training wheels or the guiding arms of my father.

Dad was with me on most every turn and I couldn’t help but wonder how many times he dreamed of skiing–consciously or subconsciously–these past months. Boy, how he loved skiing. Boy, how he loved Colorado and the great American West.

Dad imparted these loves to me along with oh-so much more. I’m not intending to eulogize him here but I did want to let you know of his passing–he was such a steady force in my life and I loved him so very much.

I finished out the day with my little guy and I walked away knowing that I made a difference in his life. Skiing memories are among the best in the world for just about everyone. Dad was certainly with me every step of the way for these.

I am heartbroken but strong. I’m absorbing this news with a huge measure of gratitude. It has been a challenging ski season in many ways. I knew going into it that Dad was in his final phase. Life became truly chaotic just before Christmas when Mom ended up in the hospital for emergency surgery! I wanted to go be with them after the Christmas rush but Mom thought it would be better for me to go home for an extended stay once ski season ended.

Please let Dad be well until at least the end of ski season, I thought to myself almost daily these past months. “I’ll soon be home, Dad,” I told him in a recent phone conversation.

“That will be great, Hun,” he said as his voice trailed off weakly, despite his eternal optimism.

No, I didn’t get the spring, summer and fall with him I had been counting on. There will be no special ninetieth birthday celebration for him as I had hoped. There will be no keeping him company at his deathbed. There will be no last hugs.

But I’m filled with so much gratitude. My father was the kindest, most compassionate person I’ve ever known. He gave me so much on so many levels. His love, wisdom and encouragement have guided me throughout my life. He paid as much attention to my use of grammar–both written and spoken–as my table manners or how I did my hair. He nurtured my love of France and astonished many a French friend by belting out his own passionate rendition of La Marseillaise. He was my beloved Papa-san and I will always be his darling daughter, his only girl among five sons.

I carted home my uniform yesterday as my schedule for the last week of spring break was cleared. I’ll return it tomorrow all washed and ready for next year when I go to clean out the rest of my belongings from my locker. My season came to an abrupt end. Yet my heart remains grateful.

As I often tell my students, turns are like stories: each must have a beginning, a middle and an end. I guess this is the finish for you Dad–at least in the mortal version of yourself on earth. But oh, did you make some great turns during your long life. I will honor you by attempting to make as many good ones both on the slopes and off. I’ll be home soon to formally bid you goodbye.

Hopefully I will never forget the sound of your voice, the softness of your hands and the warmth of your smile. I know that the generosity of your heart and the many chuckles we shared will be with me forever.

Godspeed to you, Frank Angelo Clemente. May heaven above be filled with lots of powder days and endlessly sunny, bluebird Colorado skies.

23 Mar 2016, 11:53am
by Julie Dugan Gissin


This is so beautiful Maribeth…am shedding tears for and with you. Sounds like you have lost such a special wonderful Dad…what a lovely relationship it sounds like you had. I will always picture your dear dad smiling…which he did with his eyes as much as he did with his mouth. He had a very warm, genuine smile. 🙂 Much love to you and yours. xxoooo

23 Mar 2016, 12:52pm
by Betsy Millet


Dear MaryBeth, My niece, Julie Gisson forwarded to me the thoughts you so beautifully authored describing the relationship you had over the years with your Dad, my DEAR SWEET UNCLE FRANKIE. Your words have “touched” me in such a powerful way. You brought back many of my own memories from childhood and how this great man influenced my life and the lives of my siblings.
I wish to relate to you some of these cherished memories some day. Right now, as I am confident that his life is being celebrated by your family, I am finding it difficult, through my tears to continue on through the blurry vision I am experiencing as I attempt to convey my thoughts.
It comforts me to know about the special relationship you had with my dear dear uncle. Although it remains a long and complicated story Mary Beth, he has ALWAYS and WILL always remain in my thoughts. I loved him so
very much. My best to you. Betsy Dugan Millet

23 Mar 2016, 1:28pm
by Anna M. Barnes


Your Fathers tribute is so lovely & heartwarming! My wonderful Husband passed rather quickly from cancer Nov 2014, so I understand your devastating loss.
I wish your family love, prayers & fond memories, until that glorious day when you’ll meet again. Gods’ Blessings are with you!

23 Mar 2016, 6:27pm
by Marty Wilcox


Compassion pours from your soul. Your Dad will forever be proud of the wonderful person he taught and inspired. Merci for sharing with us. Also I truly enjoy your “writers’ voice”.

23 Mar 2016, 6:51pm
by Ira Marcus


Maribeth,

When I saw your post this morning I didn’t realize you had written what you have. I just talked w/Frankie and he asked if I’d seen what you wrote.
Beautiful, It’s wonderfull that you have the spirit of “skiing” in your soul. And that your dad, Frank Angelo Clemente gave you that everlasting gift. You’re a talented writer. Thanks for your gift of words.l’m sorry for your loss yet so happy for his great life and what he gave you.

Love,

Ira

23 Mar 2016, 7:22pm
by Lana lafleche @gmail.con


Maribeth
This was absolutely beautiful. What a great tribute to a very special man. We all loved him so.

24 Mar 2016, 6:51am
by Kate Freeman


Maribeth I have never met you in person and certainly never met your father. But your words bring great love into my heart for the both of you and your entire family. Sending you love during these days of initial loss. Your beautiful memories will hold you up and carry you through the worst of times. What a blessing the two of you had – to share this lifetime as father and daughter.

24 Mar 2016, 7:47am
by Lisa Perfetti


Maribeth, I am so sorry for your loss. I know you are close to your parents and I pray for your father to rest in peace. What a wonderful farewell you wrote. Sending you and your family my condolences and prayers. Peace, Lisa Perfetti

24 Mar 2016, 12:04pm
by Lana Jersen


That was a most beautiful tribute to your Dad, Maribeth; and although you were unable to be with him at the end of his journey, I’ve no doubt he felt your love and concern every day. Wishing you and your family peace and many wonderful memories. Love and Prayers, Lana and John

24 Mar 2016, 2:28pm
by James “Vale” Roeder


My Dad said a new Ångel named Frank Angelo Clemente had just arrived. I didn’t make the connection until I saw your touching blog. Thank You for sharing and know I think he’s in the greatest company possible.

Maribeth, Wow! You said it all, so beautiful a tribute!
I and my family grew up with you all. I remember the overnight they’d take to come to our house at the lake for a New’s party along with Ann & Don, Marilyn & Bill, the Larson’s, etc. they all had a ball.
Your Dad~ always gave me a hug, he could crack a joke as well as anyone one, but it’s his big smile I will always remember. Frank was always happy to see me, as is Mary Ellen, even for a few brief minutes in the summer at the lake. Your Mom and he were lucky to have shared so many years together.
All my love to you, Mom, Frank, Bob, David and their families,
Sandy
Sandy

24 Mar 2016, 9:00pm
by Trisha End


Maribeth, what a beautiful tribute to your father! It tells a wonderful story of your relationship, memories shared and family love. Bob and are were lucky to have known him a bit. Please give your Mom a hug from us and stay strong. Keep your father’s memories alive and continue to ski with him in your heart.
Our prayers and thoughts are with you. Hugs
Trisha & Bob End

25 Mar 2016, 2:06pm
by Mike Bisner


Maribeth, what a great tribute to a wonderful guy! I feel privileged to have been along for the ride with your dad’s love for skiing and Colorado. I’m sure he is making big powder turns as I write this!

Oh, Maribeth, I was wondering why u were traveling before the seasons end. It’s a heavy hearted journey to start with. Big hugs to you and travel safely. Condolences to you and your family.

Beautiful Maribeth!

31 Mar 2016, 1:15pm
by Suzanne de Cornelia


Brought tears. Didn’t get to be with my Dad at the end, either. Beautiful piece. Hugs to you and your mother.

25 Oct 2016, 5:26pm
by DAVID CLEMENTE


B..Beautiful! You nailed it on all points!

His love for skiing,the Scene and scenery,
could never be overstated!

A beautiful and wonderful man,indeed!

I miss my best friend daily!

Thank you for reminding me of some
memories that i managed to forget
over time!

Love D

 

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    This blog is a personal blog written and edited by Maribeth Clemente. This blog sometimes accepts forms of cash advertising, sponsorship, paid insertions or other forms of compensation. The compensation received may influence the advertising content, topics or posts made in this blog. That content, advertising space or post may not always be identified as paid or sponsored content. The owner of this blog is sometimes compensated to provide opinion on products, services, Web sites and various other topics. Even though the owner of this blog receives compensation for certain posts or advertisements, she always gives her honest opinions, findings, beliefs or experiences on those topics or products. The views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely the blogger's own. Any product claim, statistic, quote or other representation about a product or service should be verified with the manufacturer, provider or party in question. This blog does not contain any content which might present a conflict of interest.
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