For the Love of Words

My father passed away this summer after a long, valiant battle with a Parkinsons-like illness. He lost so much and endured great suffering, but I can’t help but think the hardest thing for him was the loss of his ability to use words.

My dad wasn’t a writer, but he was the greatest lover of words I’ve ever known. Every morning started with a cup of coffee and a crossword puzzle and most nights ended with a scotch old-fashioned and another crossword.

Growing up, we had one of those ancient, unabridged dictionaries on a bureau in the hallway. Sometimes, I’d find Dad standing hunched over the enormous book, thumbing through pages just for love of the words.

He was kind of like a walking dictionary. If I ever came across a word that interested me or I didn’t know the definition of, a quick call to Dad was all it took. Without a hint of hubris, he would rattle off the definition and usually the root and origin of the word.

As his illness progressed, the words would often get stuck somewhere in his addled brain before they could make it out of his mouth. It was supremely frustrating for Dad, but he handled it with grace and his easy-going laugh, and would usually find another word to get his meaning across. But even that got more and more difficult for him to do, until he was unable to say much of anything.

I think he would roll his big brown eyes at this, but I’ve been thinking of words to describe him: elegant, optimistic, intelligent, reserved, circumspect, steadfast, devout, kind and fearless.

He would probably know just the right word to describe how much he is missed, but I can only feel it in my heart.

Requiescat in pace, and dad-1

About elizabethcarden

A wife, mom and writer of historical fiction (but sadly, not of thank you notes).
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10 Responses to For the Love of Words

  1. Johnny Moses says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. He left his gift for words

  2. K. M. Coile says:

    Such a sweet tribute! You are lucky to have those wonderful memories and inherited traits 😀

  3. Jenn P says:

    What a beautiful tribute to your favorite wordsmith. I’m sure he’d be proud of a daughter that strings together words with such moving, heartfelt, depth.

  4. Jeanne says:

    What a beautiful tribute! I am at a loss for words, but please know that you and your family as in my thoughts and prayers.

  5. joellephillips says:

    Some people are word show-offs. Your father was fluent.

    I recall a family gathering at which lots of children were buzzing aroud. Someone shared sad news in front of them. They received the somber news with downcast eyes – for about a second. Then someone sneezed loudly, and the whole crowd of kids erupted into crazed giggles and ran around trying to out-do each other with dramatic sneeze re-enactments.

    Your father raised his brows and his eyes sparkled. “We’re short on ennui – long on pep.” I got the sense that he thought that mix was just perfect.

    I’m lucky to have known your dashing and dear Dad. I see so much of him in you.

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