Today would have been my father’s 91st birthday. What do you give a man who, in life, said he never needed anything? How about his photo on a book cover?
I’m pleased that today of all days, I can show you the cover of Starting with Goodbye: A Daughter’s Memoir of Love after Loss.
That’s Dad strolling along the edge, doing something he loved—walking and observing the world around him. He’s on Newport Beach in Southern California, a moment captured during a 1997 trip. Everyone else—my mother, husband, and child—was elsewhere, and he’d offered to stay with me on the beach, the only place I found comfort that summer: I was pregnant and fighting off all-day nausea, vertigo, and an odd aversion to air conditioning.
I was content to sit in the sand, relief washing in on every ocean breeze, and was not in a mood to talk. Dad was typically taciturn and, as usual, only able to sit for a few minutes before he began walking, back and forth along a quarter mile of beach—but always within eyesight. I remember his glancing back every few steps to check on me.
I’m biased of course, but I think the art department at University of Nevada Press did a terrific job. I love the cover for the way it treats light and balance, color and feeling. But I also love it for the way he is halfway-off-the-frame, and in a kind of slow motion; that captures something the story inside tries to tell—about the way he proffered protection, punctuated by our mutual tendency to always be moving near one another, but never fully.
Happy Birthday, Dad. Hope you like the gift.