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Where is my father?

Where is my father?

Where is my father? He died on March 17th, 1998. He was cremated and put in an urn. His wife, who is not my mother, has his ashes. After he died she took his dog to the veterinarian and had it put down, had a yard sale without telling me and my brother, sold the house he left her in the will, the house we grew up in, and moved with no forwarding address.

The last time I saw him he was dead, covered with a white sheet pulled up to his chin, in a private room in the hospital. The nurses had combed his hair straight back from his forehead, black, gray, shiny. The strands separated into rows the same width as the black plastic comb on his bedside table. I asked for a few minutes alone with him.

I kissed his forehead.

He was cold. His skin was like a layer of moist paper on top of a rock, as though it had separated from the skull. There was no breath of life in the skin. I took a pair of scissors out of my pocket and cut a strand of hair from the back of his head. I lost the piece of hair.

Where is my father?

Today is Father’s Day. I remember him.

I know where my father is. He is in my mind. He is in my stories. He is in my hands as I write.

This morning I looked through letters he had mailed me when I lived in Japan.

I found a poem he wrote me on the back of a letter he sent me on March 4th, 1986.


Have I told you lately
that I care
about WHERE
your footsteps fall
When you follow
night birds wing
for heart treasures
Have I told you lately
that I listen
for your footsteps
to return
to my garden
and help me
find a rose
for your ear.

March 4,1986 WHF, Daddy

Daddy, I can not return to your garden. You can not hear my footsteps. This morning I will find a rose and put it behind my ear.

I miss you, Daddy. I know where you are.

You are in my heart.



About Pamela Hodges

My name is Pamela Hodges. I am a writer and an artist. I write to encourage and to bring laughter. I paint cats, draw cartoons and write books for children and grown ups.

You are an artist. Yes, you are. Really.

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Get the FREE illustrated, sort of a comic book, “You Are An Artist.” Believe in yourself and your ability to draw. xo Pamela

  • Eric Gale

    Wow! Thank you Pamela for writing such as powerful piece. I’m sorry for your experience and the pain it brought. I am glad you have his letters and the memories of the good times.

  • Susan W A

    Pamela … stunning piece. You portrayed the stark contrast between your loving relationship with your father and the difficult way you were cut off at the end of his life. Thank you for sharing the beautiful poem he wrote to you, and for mentioning that you would find a rose for behind your ear. The picture of your father exudes his enthusiasm for life. His eyes and smile welcome you in. I love how Lorraine asked about what he is doing in the picture. So interesting to learn of different professional experiences people have … plus to read that it was likely in the deep north of the Yukon … wow.

    Pamela, you have such a gift of sharing your story, and naturally coaxing and inviting others to reflect on their own life path. We find meaning in our commonalities.

    I am not a religious person, but I use some of the symbolism as a tool for my own learning, reflection, and joy. Thus, I can see your father and my father laughing together and enjoying good conversation. My father was an electrical engineer, and a person with a big heart and a big smile. He died at the age of 42 on September 29, 1975 (also the birthday of my cousin and my uncle).

    Thank you for honoring relationships so beautifully.

    • Hello Susan,
      I am so sorry your father died. On September 28th, 2017, it will be 42 years ago that he died. The world will teeter on a balanced scale, that day, the same amount of time here and gone. I think the angels cried on the day he died.

      I still have to buy a rose bush. I like the idea of having roses in my garden. Do you have any plants that remind you of your father? Maybe your father and mine are sitting together. I like the thought of them laughing. You take after your father, a big heart and a big smile. I appreciate your thoughtful comments.


      • Susan W A

        Pamela … thank you so much for “doing the math”. I may not have realized the significance of this year if you hadn’t pointed it out.

        Your lovely comments brought tears to my eyes … in a good way. One was feeling the love of and for my father. The other reason I cried was your tremendous and loving support. How fortunate I am.

  • EmFairley

    Beautiful, Pamela. My Daddy is forever in my heart too

  • Loved this. Of course you knew I would. There are traces of your love in every sentence.

  • Terri Kiral

    Such a profound piece, Pamela. I lost my father in 1993. He was only 58. I barely knew him while I grew up. We connected just a few weeks before his passing. Thank you for sharing your tender story.

    • Hi Terri,
      I am sorry your father died. Thank you for sharing a bit of your story here. In just four sentences you have written a short novel about your father. These four words stand out: lost, only, barely knew and connected.
      You are very welcome.

      • Susan W A

        I love this four sentence novel concept, Pamela, with the accompanying 4 word poem.

    • Susan W A

      Oh, my … connecting before his passing … what a gift of learning.

  • La McCoy

    Beautiful peace. Sorry about your dad. Mine is gone too. Cremated and burried beside my mother.

    • Hi La,
      Thank you. It’s nice your parents are together.

      • La McCoy

        That is a loving kind comforting thought Pamela.
        Thank you.
        I hope they feet the same way. Sigh.

  • Robn Patrick

    I think this is one of the best things you’ve written. It was a treasure to read. It brought up many memories, both bad and good, and gave me that feeling of experiencing just a tiny bit of what you wrote. I felt as if I was standing behind you in a shadow watching you say goodbye to your father.

    • Hello Robin,
      Thank you for your kind words. Memories, both good and bad, are always there, right Robin? May the wounds from bad memories be a distant haze, and may they never keep us from enjoying the sunshine today. You are a delight Robin.

  • Lorraine Norwood

    Pamela, what a deeply touching post. Your father sounds extraordinary. I’m glad you had so many happy years with him. I’m truly sorry about what your stepmother did. I had
    a similar situation, but with my stepfather. Reading the sorrow in your words, I realized that they can take the things associated with our mother and father, but they can’t take the memories and the spirit. I will try to remember that when the bitterness wells up in me again.

    As a nosy, but curious, aside — in the photo of your father, what is he doing? It looks like a phone or microphone? He certainly was a handsome man. Thanks again for writing, Pamela.

    • Hello Lorraine,
      I am sorry you had a similar experience. And, I am sorry your mother died. You are right. They can’t take our memories. The weird thing about bitterness, it only hurts us, not the other person. Sort of like if we drank poison and hoped it hurt the other person. We would be the one to die.

      You can never be noise to ask me a question. My father worked for the Department of Transport as a radio operator. I think this photograph was taken in the deep north of the Yukon.
      Best to you,

  • Berdeane Bodley

    Pamela Berdeane, you are & always will be his favorite girl, cherish that thought, of course you know just where he is today, “in your heart” right where he belongs!!! I love you Pamela. xo

    • Hi Mom,
      I love you. Thank you for always encouraging me. Yes, he is in my heart.

  • Debbie Beddows

    Of course or he wouldn’t of written a lovely poems or letters the step mother must of been jealous of the love u both had and even thou he’s gone u feel his love she proberly can’t xx

  • Debbie Beddows

    What a lovely poem a daddy’s love and daughters love is unbreakable, as his daughter will carry his love on her heart like a locket and it can never be taken away xxx

    • Thank you Debbie. I know my dad loves me.

  • Janelle

    A beautiful story, Pamela. He left you words, I think.

    • pamelahodges

      Thank you Janelle. He did. I didn’t realize the treasure I have is his letters.

  • Beautiful. Hope you found a rose.

    • I did. In the front yard on my daughter’s rose bush.Thank you Anne.

  • kathunsworth

    Pamela so beautiful and the poem is your gift, he is with you always.

  • Brianna Wasson

    Pamela, what a beautiful tribute. What a beautiful memory.

    • Thank you Brianna. I found an envelope of all the letters he wrote me when I lived in Japan. I didn’t remember that I saved them. They are full of poetry he wrote me on the back of the letters.

      • Brianna Wasson

        What an amazing gift he gave you in those. I’m so happy you get to have those for always. To remember and hold.

  • Brad V

    Moving, tender, strong with truth and love. Great remembrance, Pamela.

  • Your writing moves people. I’m sorry he never got to know you, Pamela.

    • Oh dear. Now I see why we have people read our stories to make sure our message is clear. I grew up with my father. My parents divorced when I was had already left home. He remarried in 1992 when I was 34.

      • Oh, that might be my fault. Maybe I misunderstood, somewhere. Anyway, maybe it’s too bad his wife never appreciated you.

  • Lotta Wanner

    Dearest! You are so brave! What beautiful love you hold for your father! I am sure he is very happy about that and helps you to choose joy, every day. ❤

    • Thank you Lotta. I love my daddy. I choose Joy today.