I’ve been without my father far longer than I was with him. Not particularly uncommon for someone my age, but losing him when I was only 20 had an impact that, even today, I’m still figuring out.
He was nearly 40 when I was born. And although I’m sure my dad wouldn’t have had it any other way, my two sisters and I had male nicknames. My older sister’s stuck the most. She was Fred. I was Sam. My younger sister was Charlie. At some point, we must have asked if Dad wished he’d had sons instead of daughters. And we were always reassured.
At the wake of one of his contemporaries 20 years ago, I learned that some of the women who worked in the Providence-Washington Insurance Company considered Jack Reynolds “quite a catch.” Well, duh. Tall and handsome, dark blond hair and green eyes, smart and mannered, of course he was. Still, it was cute to watch these women, then in their 60s and 70s, blush at the mention of his name.
Here he is on the left, making a face for the camera as usual. He was more often the one behind the lens. My mom’s father is in the middle and her brother is on the right. They’re all gone now. Dad died the day after this photo was taken, unexpectedly, at 60. My grandfather lived to be 88, and my uncle was afflicted by dementia, as was my mother.
If I only had my father in my life for 20 short years, I can state without any doubt that he used that time wisely, to parent and teach and inspire and love. There’s a lot of him in me, and for that, I am eternally grateful.