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Dad Was 41 When He Died

He died on my tenth birthday.

By Denise E LindquistPublished 10 months ago β€’ 3 min read
Top Story - June 2023
Brother Chuck, Dad, and I

The Prompt

Write a reflective essay exploring the role your father or a father figure has played in shaping your identity, and the lesson they imparted that has had the greatest impact on your life.

As I read this prompt, I thought, how could my dad have shaped my identity? I'm not sure he could have. I remember him working and eating a meal with us each day and little else.

I know he took 3 of the 4 of us children to the circus one year. My mom and sister couldn't go as my sister had measles. I remember we brought her back a kewpie doll.

One year we lived on the reservation as he was unemployed. I'm not sure where he worked there. I remember having my tonsils out that year and that I missed kindergarten. I remember my dad always working.

My dad was a welder and I married a welder. My dad was fit and would do one-handed pushups with kids on his back. I am married to a man that is fit and can do that.

I am married to a recovering alcoholic and my mom said that our dad was a weekend alcoholic. I do remember him in bed on Sundays with the Sunday paper.

What has probably affected me the most is that he died on my tenth birthday. Until I was the age he was when he died, I didn't know why it was so difficult to celebrate my birthday. A friend had to say, "Didn't your dad die on your birthday?" for me to figure out the impact of that.

The main result of hearing that comment from my friend was that I now celebrate my birthday all month.

My half-brother just died a couple of years ago now of covid and I thought he was so young. I never really considered my dad young when he died. He and my mother had 5 children when he died. My brother had four.

My father and his siblings were all in boarding school. I did not know precisely how they were affected, but many were alcoholics. I say were because a couple became ministers and didn't drink. His sisters were heavily involved in Christianity, and didn't drink either.

I am a woman in long term recovery and that means that I do not drink alcohol or use drugs. The first recovery program I attended was the family program and the need for that may have come from my dad and other family.

He had been in the service and traveled all over. It sounded like he had a full life even before he married my mother. My mother was 19 and he was 30 years old. I married at age 17 to someone who was 23 years old.

I am Native American and get that from both my mother and father. Most of my knowledge about being Native American came from my mother. She was not in boarding school, while my father was.

He did have a friend in Red Lake, MN and when I was young we always went up there for the Fourth of July powwow and danced. I learned about powwows from my dad taking us to the powwow.

The final thing I can attribute to my dad was his strong value for family relationships. It was important that we visit family and even his friends whom he grew up with and that he considered family.

The family has been important to me all of my life and it was important in choosing mates. I wanted to know and be able to see if the family was important to them too.

At the end of this writing, I found similarities, yes, and shaping my identity, maybe. It is much more than I thought when I started this. I am thankful for the prompt.


About the Creator

Denise E Lindquist

I am married with 7 children, 27 grands, and 12 great-grandchildren. I am a culture consultant part-time. I write A Poem a Day in February for 8 years now. I wrote 4 - 50,000 word stories in NaNoWriMo. I write on Vocal/Medium weekly.

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Comments (10)

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  • Jacqueline Leigh10 months ago

    Breaking the inherited tendencies can be our biggest challenge and our most beneficial personal growth

  • Tiffany Gordon 10 months ago

    well done!

  • I'm so sorry, I can't imagine what it must have been like to lose your dad so young. Only 41! Not much older than me now. There is something very sobering about that. But of course, when we are children, 40 seems quite old doesn't it! I love the honesty and reflection in your writing - you grow from the beginning to the end and you show it. I love that. xx

  • Melissa Ingoldsby10 months ago

    A beautiful tribute to a wonderful man and father. Gorgeous work πŸ’•

  • Cathy holmes10 months ago

    Very open, honest piece. Congrats on the top story.

  • Gerald Holmes10 months ago

    You opened your soul to us readers in writing this. That takes courage. Great job and congrats for the top story.

  • Judey Kalchik 10 months ago

    In writing this you took us on your journey of remembrance and finding similarities you hadn't yet considered. Thank you for the vulnerability- I'm so happy for you that it was recognized as a #TopStory!

  • Jay Kantor10 months ago

    Dear-D ~ You always wear your Happy-Heart on your Sleeve - Your 'Family' memories come-out so vividly - Jay

  • Babs Iverson10 months ago

    Super story!!! Personal and heartfelt loved it!!!β™₯️β™₯οΈπŸ’•

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