Back on Track

I have missed Anchor B!!  I am coming back to writing on the blog after a long 6 weeks…  At the end of March, I had to say goodbye to my dear ol’ dad who had just found out that lymphoma cells had reappeared in his blood after 1 year of remission.  We had 3 weeks with him after the news.  His health declined incredibly fast, but we are so grateful that the suffering was brief.

This kind of grief is new to me, having never lost a loved one this close.  I seem to have slowed down.  I have been thinking slower, working slower, moving slower to get to the dishes and the laundry… I’ve been slow at returning phone calls and emails.  I realize this has nothing to do with hand lettering, but as my dad was such a big, important part of my life, so is his absence.

Paw Paw Tunnel, 1985

For all those of you out there who didn’t know him, I can’t possibly describe how truly wonderful this man was.  He had a sweet sweet soul, gentle and gracious.  His earnest expressions of gratitude, joy, and surprise brought many smiles and laughter to those around him.  His hands would often raise up in elation at the promise of vanilla ice cream, or at the sight of an old friend.  I think that something about his emotive expressions made him so innocently lovable.  I can hear his laughter in my memory, long and slow, coming from a fantastic smile.

Young Moody, around 1949

Moody, ML, and Molly on the banks of the Potomac

In addition to his famous love of ice-cream, he also loved spending time outdoors.  He  was an avid paddler, hiker, camper, and cyclist.  As a family, we would take routine canoe camping trips down the windy portion of the Potomac known as Paw Paw Bends.  As soon as I was old enough to make the slightest contribution to moving the canoe through the water, he crafted for me a custom little ML sized paddle by cutting down an adult paddle.  When I outgrew that one, he crafted another.  I’m pretty sure my biggest contribution was eating whatever snacks I had picked out from 7 eleven, though I had a mighty pretty paddle to dip in the water here and there.  I feel so grateful for those adventures as a young one, and I wish I could dedicate more time to those activities now.  R and I have all his camping gear, meticulously labeled and ready to go.

On pretty much every birthday card and father’s day card, for as long as I can remember, I wrote to him that he was the “bestest daddy in the wholest widest world.”  And he was.  He was incredibly supportive and gentle in his guidance.  It seemed like every life choice I made was exciting to him- going to art school, moving to the Virgin Islands, moving to Portland, buying a house in Baltimore…(though he was forever disappointed that I had never been to the Lexington Market or the Baltimore Symphony.)  All along the way, he’d write me letters expressing his pride and excitement.  He spent a lot of time teaching me crucial life skills.  He taught me to ride a bike, drive a car, balance a check book, whistle, how to look words up in the dictionary.  He taught me about L.L.Bean and R.E.I.  He taught me how to write an efficient grocery list, remove a splinter, and how to tie a Christmas tree on the roof of a car.

Walking home from church in College Park, 1984

He was well loved by his community.  He served as Rector of St. Andrew’s Church in College Park, Maryland for more than 20 years, officiated many weddings and funerals, and baptized many babies, and presented weekly sermons to the congregation.  His funeral will be held at St. Andrew’s, and his ashes will be entombed in their columbarium in the same courtyard that my parents’ wedding reception was held.

Nantucket, 2011

I have been missing him and have much more to share, but for now,  I am glad to be back on the blog and have plenty of work to catch up on.

How are you?

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10 thoughts on “Back on Track

  1. idaleedi says:

    Oh ML, i am so sorry to hear of your loss. My love goes with you now more than ever.

  2. redskycc says:

    So proud of you.

  3. iaintgottime says:

    Mary Laurel this is a beautiful beautiful post. You really articulate your love for him so well, and perhaps thats due to all the slowing down-slow can be good. :-) I’m glad he had such a loving family to send him off, and I’m so happy you are finding your way back into the swing of things, slowly but surely.

    ps- he crafted you your own pint sized paddle? Sweetest thing ever <3

  4. Chloe says:

    It’s ok to feel slow. I have felt like this, too, after a loss of a very close family member. It gives you time to find their spirit in everything you do. Sending you the biggest hug in the wholest widest world. Chloe xoxo

  5. epeironi says:

    ML, Your writing is beautiful. I’m so sorry for your loss. He sounds like such a wonderful father and man. You will always be able to keep his memory alive in your heart and your beautiful art work. While I haven’t lost a parent, I’ve been grieving lately as well. Take care of yourself and allow yourself time to take it slow and easy and know that it is ok.

  6. Courtney Weber says:

    Mary Laurel,

    I didn’t know your father, but he seemed like such a lovely, interesting man. I’m so sorry for your loss. I hope you will always continue to celebrate his memory.


  7. Aleks says:

    You write with a rare poignancy, ML.
    Hugs from Austin.
    Aleks & the boys

  8. realduotone says:

    Dear Mary Laurel,

    I am so glad that your mother’s FB mention led me here. What a marvelous collection of images and words; a privileged glimpse of the obviously lovely and loving, bright, talented and capable (that last is a big word in my branch of the family) young woman that you so clearly are. Your words about your father fill in the picture I hold of a gentle, generous and humorous man who could not believe his luck in having you for a daughter. He leaves a huge hole that changes you forever, yes, but you may discover over time the most surprising thing: the relationship endures, grows, and sustains you forever.

  9. Mary Gawlik says:

    ML, what a gorgeous tribute to your dad. Your list of what he taught you instantly got me thinking not only about what my father had taught me, but what Kirby might say about what we taught her. It reminded me that each of us leaves a legacy, often of things, memories, and ideas that we would be totally unaware of having left. On the days when we may be thinking that we have nothing to offer the world, it is comforting to remember that even the smallest contributions can have lasting and wonderful effects on others. Your dad left a legacy of small jewels such as gasps of delight and marvelous smiles, and he left a legacy of large treasures such as compassion for this world and deep care for all around him. We are blessed to have known him.

  10. Maureen says:

    Mary Laurel,
    We have all been saddened by the death of your dear Father. He left a great legacy to St. Andrew’s, He always made me laugh and Elisabeth says he was the kindest person she ever met. Jeff remembers that he never yelled at anyone particularly the acolytes when they made big mistakes. He had some great Ted stories and I could listen to his stories over and over and smile. We will be there tomorrow. I am so happy we have a place for him now at St. Andrews.

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