Friends, Fathers and Giants

June 2012 marks the third anniversary of my father’s unexpected death; June 26, 2009. While unprepared for his sudden death, I will always remain eternally thankful of the 15 close years I shared with my father. Although I was not raised with my father, in 1999, he and I formed a close bond that will last a lifetime. He was a thoughtful, curious, intellect with a twist of eccentricity that fuels ongoing conversations today among his world-wide friends about his stories, character, collections, and conversation. For me, he is the person who I credit with my name, my love of all creatures, curiosity to understand the unknown, introversion and shyness and unique view of the world around me.

I was just past my mid-thirties when he died, and without a doubt, it changed everything from that moment forward in life. Since that time, I have several friends who have experienced a similar loss and together, we find refuge in our frustrations, sadness, happy recollections, and overall process of healing, grieving and moving to the next phase of coping with the loss of a loved one. As I reflect back to those moments, hours, days, weeks, months and years of working through the process of planning a memorial, preparing his home for sale, moving items, probate court, and all that can go with death, I know for certain – without my friends who were there the very moment I received the notification call to moments today when I simply need to talk, email, or text about something related – I wouldn’t not have survived as well as I have.

My immediate “family” is small and quite disconnected; however, I am extremely fortunate to have network of friends who I call family to look to. Including my father’s friends – they have been so amazing, and due to his line of work with the airlines, they are found all over the globe. Through their eyes, they’ve helped fill the gaps of the first 26 years from their perspectives of his workplace pranks, successful business sleuthing, comedy built out of sheer social anxiety and even learned that he dressed up like Harry Potter for the holiday and took children for rides on his beloved Harley Davidson.

His lessons to me were professional, personal, character building and thought evoking; his responses always armed with profound intent. He left me with the gift of this experience, his death, which affords me the great honor of being a sounding board for my friends who continue to experience similar grief. Thank you “Pop” for the gift of life, to my dear friends – I can never thank you enough for your support, and my father’s friends – keep the stories coming – I cherish them! And to anyone in need of support, know that there are many like me, who have similar experiences and who can be a shoulder to lean on during your own time of grieving. To all father’s of times past, today and tomorrow – I wish you a sincere Happy Father’s Day.

One of my father’s closest friends, a folk singer, wrote the following my father in mind and gave me permission to share. He wrote this after being invited to sing to a close friend during his final hours under the care of hospice. He reflected “they were angels”…

The problem with giants
There’s a problem you know, come’s from livin’ ‘round giants,
But it’s not what you’re thinkin’, you see
For the giants I’ve known were the gentlest folk,
And some were as small as could be.
Every one of ‘em’s humble though they fill up a room,
Never once giving thought to themselves,
They give of the gifts they’ve been given
Be it songs or the things from their shelves.
And when they pass, as all of us do,
We compare them to those with us still,
And, unfair as it seems, most folks just can’t dream
Of the size of the boots to be filled.
And therein I believe is the problem with giants,
But then it’s no problem at all,
For they leave us with knowledge of what we can be,
Even if we are just small.
John McFadyen


About tristessao

Tristessa Osborne serves Covenant Hospice as the Vice-President of Marketing. She earned her Masters in Management in 2004 from Troy State University, and Bachelor's of Interdisciplinary Studies of Social Science in 2001 from University of West Florida. Tristessa moved to Pensacola in 1999, from Dallas / Fort Worth and has worked for Covenant since 2007. Prior to Covenant Hospice, Tristessa held positions in various capacities such as a Drug and Alcohol Counselor for teens, Case Manager for the severely mentally ill, and business management and ownership. She is past-chair of the National Hospice Workgroup, Sales and Marketing forum after serving three years as chair.

3 Responses to “Friends, Fathers and Giants”

  1. Well done. Happy Father’s Day to all fathers — especially those who have gone and leave us with the love, the legacies, the memories, the magic and the life that makes us who we are.

    “Ring the bells that still can ring, forget your perfect offering. There’s a crack, a crack in everything. That’s how the light gets in.” — from “Anthem” by Leonard Cohen

  2. As a father, I hope that I have such a positive impact on my children’s outlooks, perspectives and lives. Thank you for sharing, I know your dad was and is very proud of you..

  3. What a beautiful tribute to Tristessa’s dad and a sweet connection for all of us who’s dad’s were giants in our lives.

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