Tears and Delight

Dear loyal followers, today is a first.  In my year of blogging I have not had a guest writer until today… I’m turning over the keyboard to my mama, Heidi.  Please give her a waggy welcome.

When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.  ~Kahlil Gibran

This quote brings me solace.  It also makes me weep.

Three years ago today my father died and the grief I feel daily is, as Gibran beautifully states, my heart missing my delight.  My father was completely delightful.

Dad as a little boy (with Grandma Benadetta & Grandpa Del)

I had the honor (and delight) of accompanying my dad to work every day for six years of my childhood.  My father taught 3rd grade and science at Nueva Day School, my elementary school.  Nueva wasn’t an ordinary school — it was extraordinary, just like my dad.

Our school was housed in one of the historic Crocker mansions — an elaborate French chateau style abode built for the banker in Hillsborough, CA.   We had acres of formal gardens as our playground and most of 3rd grade (taught by my dad) was conducted under the giant and ancient weeping willow tree on the lower lawn.  Ahhh… so many incredible memories….

Today Nueva is full-on prep school, but in the years I was there it was a free-spirited and creative endeavor for “gifted” students (and teachers).  With the exception of the school’s director, all students were on a first name basis with their instructors.  At home my father was “dad”.  At school I called him “Del”.

The 60’s were a progressive and groovy time for sure and my dad even grew the obligatory long sideburns and mustache.  I thought he was so cool and brilliant.

And he was brilliant (“cool” remains debatable).  In my dad’s short 68 years he accomplished more than most; educated thousands, had over 20 books published and gave hundreds of speeches and seminars at universities around the country.

But my dad’s greatest accomplishments would not show up on his resume; he was an excellent husband and father, and he had the ability to make everyone he met feel important and special.

As a child, my father could make me laugh like no one else!  He had silly nicknames for us kids; I had 3 — Chloe Minerva, Shardell and Grace.  Marty was King Martin and Matthew was Baby Ergo.  I always felt special having not one, but three, private nicknames.  But of course us first-borns always get more glory!

The “tap-dancing weatherman” was a staple in dad’s comedic repertoire and I laughed every time he did it (which was nearly every evening!).  He would watch the news and — you guessed it! — tap dance his way through the kitchen describing the upcoming weather.  I can still see my mom rolling her eyes and saying “oh Del”.

My dad would tell us stories at bedtime and the stories became more elaborate when my baby brother, Matthew, was born.  He made up this wonderful ongoing tale of “the magic butterfly in the land of the dewey, dewey doo”.  I was older when my dad started this series (my youngest brother is 9 years my junior), yet I was riveted along with my brothers.

Heidi & her dad, Del

Memories are flooding my mind as I sit here at my laptop and I’m stymied by how to best articulate what I am experiencing.  Nearly every memory of my father (with the exception of the last days of his life) are filled with laugher & warmth.  I am smiling and crying at the same time as I reminisce about my dad.

Yesterday, my mom, brother Marty and I spent the afternoon doing something we knew my dad would love;  went to see a silly movie followed by a pasta dinner — two things my dad adored.  Note:  Matthew lives in Tucson and was unable to join us.

My father would have really enjoyed our afternoon but he should have been with us.  Life isn’t fair — I get that — but to lose such a fantastic man at such a young age just doesn’t feel right.

Dear Atticus followers, please forgive me for taking his space today.  I am clearly not as articulate or cleaver as my dog (or my dad), and I thank you for this indulgence.



  1. velma stahl says:

    Oh Heidi, I am so pleased that you took over today. A day of such importance. The passing of a brilliant man. I know you must be despairing today to mark another year of your dads absensce. Please know that you are so loved and we are all thinking of you today. Your dad left such an impression on many people. He changed many lives. I know you are extemely proud to be the only daughter of such a respected man. God’s Blessings to you today dear cousin. I love you so much~

  2. Such a beautiful tribute, Heidi. Atticus was wise to cede to you today. Your voice needed its space. How proud your dad would be! It is sad that he did not live to see Atticus Uncensored take flight (or all the other wonderful things now transpiring), yet he lived fully and with enthusiasm for all those years when your creativity was being nurtured. He is, of course, still part of you. (I absolutely loved the story of him tap dancing to the weather!) You may feel like you are not articulate today, but that is only the grief laying its dampening effect on you. Beautiful, beautiful words here.

    Judy Stone-Goldman
    The Reflective Writer
    “My cat owns me, my clutter stymies me, my writing frees me. Word maven loves—and learns from—ordinary life.”
    Judy Stone-Goldman recently posted..Remember Just One Person on Memorial Day

  3. Catherine Balck says:

    I have said it before and will say it again, your Dad was truely one in a million. He sparked my interest in science in the 5th grade with his love of nature and biology. I remember when I was a new student at Nueva, my birthday came up suddenly and no one knew about it until the day arrived. He rallied the students and teachers to throw me an impromptu birthday party with gifts! His gift? Three glass test tubes and a brush to clean them! The test tubes disappeard over the years, but I still have that cleaning brush. (Test tube brushes are great for cleaning vases).

    Del always knew how to make someone feel welcome and accepted. Which was a big deal for me when I arrived at Nueva mid-5th grade. Nueva was my 5th school in 6 years, I was always the new girl trying to fit in and for the first time in my life I felt appreciated for who I was inside, and what I had to offer the world. He helped me build confidence in my abilities and talents and to use them productively.

    God must have needed Del’s special skills and called him to heaven to consult. Who knows maybe he does the tap dancing weather man to entertain the angels!

  4. Trish says:

    Heidi, What a lovely, beautiful tribute to your dad. Your dad sounds like he was a remarkable human being and I have to think that he was (and is) so proud of you (as his favorite daughter!). :-) Thank Atticus for me for letting you take over. Your heartfelt tribute brought tears to my eyes.

    caregiving. family. advocacy.
    Trish recently posted..Common Sense

  5. How nice to hear about your father. I lost my dad as well almost five years ago this October and I relate to a lot of what you’re feeling. Lucky for me, I dream about him a lot and get to speak to him then, but I always wake up hoping that one day I’ll get to see him again. I lost my Dad right before I embarked on the next stage of my life, and it saddens me sometimes to know that he didn’t get to be a part of it. Regardless, I am happy for the time I had him as my Dad and my memories of him keep me smiling (although shedding a tear or two along the way). It was great to learn about you and your Dad. Well done.
    Dennis Salvatier recently posted..Do You Really Need A Logo

  6. Donna McCord says:

    Dear Heidi, just from reading what you have written today I feel as though I have gotten a glimpse of the man your father was, and what a blessing your relationship was. I can’t and don’t want to think about losing my dad, who is now 84, but I know it is a real possibility he will go before I do. I can only imagine the sense of loss you must feel, but also I trust that the memories you have of him are like warm globes of light that fill you with peace and joy and gratitude for all he has given you. How wise and compassionate Atticus is for allowing you to take over his blog today! I believe, too, Heidi, that our spirits never die and that someday you will be reunited in eternal love and joy. Thank you for sharing such a personal and intimate experience.

  7. June Sockol says:

    First, it was very sweet of Atticus to let you borrow his blog today. He deserves an extra cookie after dinner.

    Heidi ~ Although it’s sad your father has passed away, he left you with wonderful memories of your childhood. My dad passed away 5 years ago and it’s still hard for me to get through his death. He could be a very difficult man at times but when I really needed him, he was there for me. When he passed, I knew he loved me and my children.

    You have such great stories of your dad to share, maybe Atticus would be willing to let you be a guest writer again.

  8. Laine D says:

    Oh Heidi I would have loved a teacher like your Dad

    What a beautiful tribute. While you feel your writing is less articulate today I would have to argue, there is just more emotion and a tangible feeling of love. ! I think you left us all with the knowledge that we would have been better for getting to meet Del and there is no greater compliment or eulogy. He was obviously your muse just as you are mine. You are his greatest work – don’t forget it!

    My Dad passed at age 60 years and 14 days – the day after Christmas 1999, I didn’t get to say goodbye so I opted not to. While I miss him physically, we speak regularly we just don’t use phone lines anymore, nothing supernatural I talk, he listens and my heart fills in the humor and unerring advice.

    Laine D.
    Laine D recently posted..Open letter to our Military – by Laine D

  9. Atticus says:

    We love you too, cousin Velma! Yes, I am proud to be the only daughter! I felt your thoughts & hugs yesterday :)

  10. Oh Heidi…this is just beautiful! What a wonderful tribute and what an amazing dad! You are indeed a lucky woman and your description of your childhood years and school made me wish I had access to that now for my daughter…thank you for sharing your dad with me :-)

  11. Atticus says:

    I know Judy — my dad would have loved to see Atticus Uncensored launch and all the other good things happening. Atticus was very close to my dad too and comforted him during his last months. and thank you for reminding me that “grief was laying it’s dampening effect on me”…

  12. Atticus says:

    Catherine, I love this memory of my dad — classic Del! I can’t believe you still have that test tube cleaning brush! isn’t it wonderful that my dad brought out the science geek in you?? :)

  13. Atticus says:

    Thank you Trish. Yes, my dad was (is) a remarkable man, and will always live in my memories.

  14. Atticus says:

    Dennis, I’m so sad for your loss too. How wonderful that you dream of him often. I have those sometimes, but I wake up sad…

    I totally feel for you in that your dad didn’t get to see this next phase in your life… that’s my experience too (& it sucks!)

    Thanks for your comment, Dennis

  15. Atticus says:

    I agree with you Donna — “reunited in eternal love and joy”… You are so fortunate that your dad is still around at 84 — enjoy every minute you can together!

  16. Atticus says:

    I’m sad for your loss too, June. though your father could be difficult it must warm you knowing & feeling his love for you & your kids. I suppose we will grieve these deaths throughout our life…

  17. Atticus says:

    Laine — you make me smile! :) Yes, you would have Loved to have a teacher like my dad! all of his students loved him. even when he was a professor teaching at the grad school level later in life his adult students adored him — he was just such a lovable man!!

    Your father was so young when he passed — tragic. I like how you say that you speak regularly and your description of what that means. I think I experience the same… hugs to you, ms. Laine!

  18. Oh Heidi,
    I wish I could have met your Dad, he sounds like someone I would have loved to hang out with. You are so lucky he was your Dad. Your stories touched my heart and made me cry. I feel the pain with you and I am sending you a big hug.

    I also feel that he passed on his sense of humor, his wit, charm and intelligence to his daughter :-)

    The Abstract Impressionist Artress

  19. Atticus says:

    ah, thanks Franziska! I think I do have my dad’s goofy sense of humor (yeah!). Yes, you would have loved my dad!!

  20. chrislwagner says:

    Heidi, you are so blessed to have had a father like Del. Thank you for giving us a glimpse into your wonderful childhood. I’m sure you are so grateful that you were love and cherished by such a beautiful man. xxoo

  21. I really enjoyed reading about your dad. I lost my dad 26 years ago – he’s been gone about as long as he was in my life – and I too have wonderful memories of him. He was a really nice guy. Not everyone has that in a dad. (But now I’m never going to be able to watch the weather report without envisioning a tap dancer….)
    Joan Oliver Emmer recently posted..Birthdaypalooza

  22. Thanks for lovely insight into your Dad Heidi, he sounds wonderful! I so miss my Dad who died at 61 1 month before Molly was born. I actually feel his presence with me all the time. I was his only daughter and yes, his favorite. Now I have to go and cry and that’s after almost 14 years.
    Louise Edington
    Fearless For Freedom
    Louise Edington recently posted..Moab Vacation- Gales and Off Roading

  23. Atticus says:

    you are right Chris — I was very lucky to have a dad like Del!

  24. Atticus says:

    Thanks for the comment Joan and I’m sorry for your loss too. We certainly are fortunate to have nice guys for dads — so many don’t have that experience.

    Now go tap dance to the weather report!! I know Thing1 & Thing2 would get a kick out of that! :)

  25. Atticus says:

    That’s so sad — your dad wasn’t able to meet Molly. I think only daughters (you & me) are always the favorites! :)

  26. Fiona Stolze says:

    Heidi, I’m so glad you shared your memories of your Dad. He sounds so amazing, really inspirational. I can see a real glint in his eye in the photo of the pair of you. I loved hearing about the nicknames you had and the weather forecast dances. When I think back to my Dad, I have rather different memories as he was seriously ill for many years and suffered from depression. And yet, when I go beyond that to the earlier years, I can see him smiling too and making jokes. He was sweet and smart and known as a real nice guy. Bless our dads.

    Fiona Stolze
    Inspired Art and Living
    Fiona Stolze recently posted..Colour Therapy Reflected in Business – Green as a Safe Option

  27. Atticus says:

    Fiona, my dad really was amazing… and missed so much! I’m sorry to hear that your father was ill for such a long time — that had to be hard. and yes, bless our dads!!

  28. sara neely says:

    I couldn’t sleep. Got up, read this, weeped the whole time, and some how…feel better. Thank you Heidi…for your wonderful, vivid, memories! <3 :D

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