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Feathers from My Father

feather

There are many people who consider their fathers to be exceptional human beings.  I happen to be one of them.  When my father passed away almost a decade ago, it left a void that has never been filled but he found a way to let me know he would always be with me.

My father had a tough life, as did many people who lived through the depression and the two major wars of the early 20th century.  His mother and father arrived here from Italy in the early 1900s with all of the hopes and dreams that immigrants of that time brought with them to this country.  As a young man he joined the Navy and was soon off to sea to serve his country during WWII.  After the war, he returned home to live with his parents.  It was soon after that his father died, and a few years later his mother also passed.  He remained a bachelor for quite some time but when he met my mother he was smitten and they married soon thereafter.  They had three children, with me being the last.  Our life was idyllic, until my younger brother died at the age of six.  Devastated and overcome with grief, my parents’ marriage fell apart and they separated less than a year after my brother’s death.  These major traumas also took a toll on my mother and she too was taken from us a year and a half later.  Needless to say, my world fell apart.  I was shipped off to live with my aunt and my other brother moved in with another relative.  My father felt that he couldn’t take care of us and work all of the jobs he needed to pay off the two funerals; but less than five years later my father came to reclaim me.  Life was good.  I was back with my dad.

When I told him I was getting married at the age of 18, he was skeptical, but gave us his blessing because he knew I had found, as he put it, “a good man.”  Then, in year I got married, my older brother was killed in a motorcycle accident and my uncle (my dad’s younger brother) also died.  I wondered how my father could withstand all of this loss; but he lived for me and gave me all of his love.  I can only imagine the pain he endured.  He lost his father, his mother, his younger brother, his wife, and both of his sons.  I was all he had and he loved me more than anything.  I was daddy’s little girl.  All of this loss was the foundation for a strong bond between us and I couldn’t imagine life without him.

Every Christmas, as we sat down for our holiday dinner, I would say a little prayer of thanks that my dad was still with me.  I worried as the years passed that each Christmas would be my last one with him.  When his health began to fail and constant trips to the cardiologist signaled to me that our time together was coming to a close, I feared the moment I knew was coming; and before I knew it, the ambulance was there and he was being taken to the hospital for the last time.  It was a week before Christmas.

As my father lay dying, my friend who used to be a hospital chaplain, stopped by to give me comfort.  He told me that I would have to let my father go.  My dad, who had lived his life for me, was now holding on for me and it was up to me to free him from this earth.  I cried as the carolers moved from room to room singing to cheer the patients and their families.  It did not bring me any joy however, because my daddy would no longer be there for Christmas dinner.

On the day he passed, I remember feeling utterly devastated.  My daddy was gone.  I wondered, “Dad…what am I going to do without you?  I talked to you every day.  How will I know you are there?” It was at that moment that I heard the words, “You’ll know when you see the white feathers.”  Puzzled, I didn’t know if it was just my inner voice attempting to bring solace or a real message from my dad wherever he was.  Time would tell.

Soon white feathers began turning up everywhere. On one particularly difficult day, I yearned to hear his voice so my husband pulled out a video from a prior Christmas and we all sat down to watch it.  As we sat there together, I look down at my side and there was a big, beautiful white feather.  There was also feather under the Christmas tree the following year and a feather on the stairs on my birthday.  Throughout the years here have been multiple times when I’m feeling down or missing my dad when I look down and there’s a feather.  I sometimes wondered if it might have been my husband or daughter planting the feathers but that explanation did not fit.  Almost every time one appears, there is no one else around and the feathers are so large and unusual that it would be virtually impossible to find them and stage them at just the right moments.   Each one is unique and I keep those feathers in a beautiful wooden box on my dresser.  As new ones arrive, I add them to my collection.  They are truly gifts from heaven and I have no doubt that these feathers from my father are his way of letting me know he’s still there.

Happy Father’s Day Daddy.


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20 Responses

  1. what a beautiful story.wiping the tears away.

    • Ditto – thank you for this lovely story. Not sure I could add to what you said, and thanks for helping me cry, too. You were so blessed to have him, and the white feathers!

      My Dad was a WWII veteran, too. I was with my Dad when he passed in Sept. 2002 (in hospice), along with my oldest brother. Believe I witnessed him seeing whoever was waiting for him just before he passed – very profound. I’ve missed him every Father’s Day ever since (and on every other holiday).

      We lost our Mom this March. Yesterday, my nephew hosted one of our first extended family gatherings that was just for fun (not taking care of business after her passing). I really missed her not being with us (especially since I so often took her to/from such events). Somehow, Father’s Day is even more poigniant with both of them gone.

      Gotta go cry again…

      • LibertyBelle, I can certainly believe you witnessed something very mystical at the time of your dad’s passing. There is another part of this story that I will share next Father’s day if I’m still around.

  2. Thank you for sharing this deeply personal story.

    I have my own “inexplicable” “I’m here”.

    No other words to say.

  3. What a lovely tribute, SOD. I, too, was very close to my Dad. He was an amazingly enlightened man for his generation. I owe a a large measure of my success in life to him (my mom was pretty awesome, too).

    My father loved all aspects of nature. He especially loved birds, watching, photographing and feeding them. Whenever I really miss or need him, an especially beautiful bird will invariably appear in the dogwood tree in my back yard. I can always count on some kind of appearance on his birthday–July 18–every year.

    Happy Father’s Day to my wonderful dad and to great dads everywhere. Real fathers know it’s about more than taking your daughters out for frozen yogurt and a photo op.

  4. that was beautiful. thought about my dad, and husband did too, today but pretty fleetingly. read your lovingly told tale and it made me feel like i have company out there. a dad who is there for you and supports you and dreams for you when you are a girl is the biggest boost in life we women can have. affects us at all stages of life so positively.

    on the other hand, my mom became much more important as i matured and we became really good women friends and travelling buddines.

    both are truly missed. both were good people and i’m glad i had my dad until i was 30 and my mom until i was 56. and to look at the photos of them when the were courting is so sweet. true love.

  5. Delurking. What a beautiful recollection, and thank you. My father and I were not close – he traveled a lot, and he and my mother were a volatile combination when he was home. A wonderful neighbor took me under his wing when I was just a sprout. Scotty was everything my father was not. He would read stories, talk to me, sing to me (his two daughters were grown and married, and I suspect he was lonely). He taught me so much – I can remember him reciting Abdul abulbul ameer, and singing “Turn those big blue eyes away”. We moved away when I was twelve, and although I did see him once in awhile, we drifted (my father was sure my mother was having an affair with Scotty, hence the move. Funny, cause Dad was having an affair with his secretary, but Mom was a woman after all, and that was verboten). When Scotty died, I was so very sad, more so than when my Dad died. Periodically, I still hear him singing to me usually when I’m at a low point (40 years later). Some people are just so special. My Mom was one of those special types, but that’s for Mom’s day.
    Happy father’s day Scotty. I miss you.

  6. Thank you all for sharing your stories and tributes to the men in our lives that helped to shape who we are.

  7. Thanks, SOD – I had a great relationship with my Dad – and miss him more than I would have imagined. Even almost 20 years later

  8. stateofdisbelief: Thank you for sharing such a moving and heartfelt tribute to your father.

  9. What a lovely story! Thank you.

  10. SoD,

    What a beautiful, inspiring story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m so fortunate to still have my parents, but my dad is failing. I know it won’t be long before we lose him. I just have to be grateful for the time we have left.

    {{{State of Disbelief}}}

    • If there is one thing I wish I would have done more of it would have been to ask more questions about his life and create a journal. There were so many stories he told that I just listened but failed to retain the details. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t think of him. His strength and capacity to love in the face of all he had to deal with was inspiring.

  11. Wonderful post, SOD. I lost Daddy two years ago, and there’s not a day that passes that I do not feel a tug. Thank you for sharing.

    • When you have wonderful parents it is incredibly painful to lose them and the void can never be filled. It gets easier as the years go by, but it’s always there. I’m so sorry for your loss.

  12. {{{SOD}}}

    thanks for sharing this. cherish those feathers always.

  13. That was very heartfelt and touching. Thank you for sharing. Now I seem to have something in my eye.

  14. Thanks you for the beautiful story as well. Your enduring love is a wonderful tribute and proof positive of what a great father he was. So lovely.

  15. Thank you for sharing your wonderful story! My dad was a WWII vet, too. Marvelous man! (My mom was pretty wonderful, too.)

  16. What an amazing story. Beautiful. That’ll stay with me.

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