Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Remembering Dad

Today is the three-year anniversary of my dad's death, and while I had planned on writing him a letter, just like this beautiful one he wrote to me years ago, I decided against it. I started thinking and stressing too much about making it perfect, and that's really not what I do on this blog. I like to do everything quick and straight off the dome to keep things honest and authentic. So, now I'm going to make a random list of facts about my dad so the people that never knew him can get a sense of what he was like. And for the people that did—well, I think this will bring a smile to your face. Here it goes.


1. Loved to sing, and when he would randomly burst into song, he'd tell us it was a "hit off his record back in the day." Sorry Dad, we never believed you were a famous singer—not even when we were five years-old.

2. Encouraged me to chase my dreams, but made me realize that all the success in the world means nothing if you aren't truly a good person.

3. Blamed the dog, Trippy, when he farted—even if he was the only one in the room.

4. Always made me feel beautiful—through braces, glasses that were bigger than my face, my frizzy hair phase and when my face looked like a pepperoni pizza.

5. Was an amazing athlete, and made the UK football team as a walk-on under Bear Bryant, one of the greatest college coaches of all time.

6. Loved a good ol' reuben sandwich.

7. Was a rebel. One time when he was 15, he went to buy a loaf of bread for his mom, and didn't return for three days—without the bread.

8. Loved his family more than anything in the world. Here he is, second from the left, with his two brothers in the middle and first cousins.

9. Was my mom's "Knight in shining armor."

10. Had the same best friend, Bobby Clark, for almost 60 years. Bobby was by his side until the very end.

11. Was always proud of me, even when I came in last in a swimming race (which, ahem, didn't happen often) or brought home C's on my report card.

12. Was just as well-liked as he was respected.

13. Loved a good, hearty breakfast at Frisch's Big Boy. haha

14. Was the dad on the sidelines screaming at the referee to "OPEN HIS EYES!!!"

15. Took me on a "date" when I was 10 and bought me a corsage. Best. date. ever.

16. Sang this song to us, even when we were probably too old for bedtime songs.

17. Was undeniably handsome. Obvi.

18. Liked to hug me—for a really long time, all the time, sometimes more than I wanted. I would kill for one of those hugs right now.

19. Was the strong, silent type, but would burst out into a belly-laugh at random moments, and could totally melt you with his smile.

20. Was truly, the best dad in the WORLD.

Love you, Dad!!!

For those of you who knew my dad, is there anything you'd like to add to the list? For everyone else, is there anyone you'd like to remember today? Please share.


  1. Love to Mr. Collis!! I rememeber him telling us how beautiful we looked for every school dance... and coming in from being out and sitting on the L-couch with him to watch TV... and sitting at the kitchen table to eat with him sitting on the end... He was the nicest man and an amazing dad!!

  2. Very sweet, Ellen! He seemed like a great man. Got me tearing up thinking about my Dad who I only get to see 3 times a year. xokathleen

  3. What a great tribute, Ellen. I didn't know your father, but your words make me wish I had. What a fine man.

    I hope you have a good day remembering your awesome father!


  4. my eyes are watering! so sweet.

  5. Hi Ellen, This made me well up - such a lovely post, you obviously had such a great dad.
    love Brighde x

  6. Oh, Molly...the L-couch!!! He put a dent in that thing. Such wonderful memories.

    Thanks, guys, for the kind words...I'm tearing up now too! xoxo

  7. I remember Mr. Collis driving us to parties in the white TAURAS with a licensed plate that said FEAR THIS! And he always told us to be careful eventhough he knew if he was driving us it meant we were planning to cause trouble :)

  8. Talking about your dad reminds me of my grandfather, who was more of a dad to me then my father ever was. As special to me as your dad is to you.So I'd like to share with you one of my favorite stories...
    When I was a boy, Palisades Amusement Park was like the Great Adventure of it's day. We lived in Cliffside Park only a few blocks away from this historic park.One summer night when I was about 5, my grandfather told my mom he was taking my sister and I for a walk. Usually walks led to ice cream or candy so we were naturally eager to go. We walked up Anderson Ave. to Palisades Ave. and then down Palisades toward the park, which was closed for the night. We walked up to the park entrance to which my grandfather asked if we wanted to go on a few rides. We were obviously confused. The park was closed. My grandfather walked up to the ticket booth and knocked. We though he was kidding.He had a great sense of humor. But a man came to the booth and my "pop" handed him a piece of paper. The man read it and went away. He returned a few seconds later and opened the front gate and let us in! We were in delirious shock. My grandfather was a well known and respected fireman in Cliffside Park. Everyone knew and liked "Wee" Nicholas.(My grandmother hated that nickname)And I never found out who wrote that note or what it said. My grandfather was injured once in a big fire at the park and maybe that had something to do with it. Anyway, two very young children got Palisades Park entirely to a 5 year old boy and his 7 year old sister,a dream come true... and went on quite a few rides before returning home with the biggest smiles on our faces. A magical, memorable night I will never forget... Thanks Pop! And thanks Ellen for inspiring me to share.

  9. That was a beautiful tribute to your dad, Ellen. He was a true gentleman and we all miss him. You'll carry those wonderful memories with you forever.....

    Aunt Elaine

  10. Yeah, Becca, FEAR THIS FORD!!! haha, that was awesome. And yep, he knew EXACTLY what we were doing at those parties!

    Thanks, Aunt Elaine--glad you liked it :) Can't wait to see you in a few weeks! xoxo

    And that's a GREAT story, Joe. I seriously want to know what was on that piece of paper!!! I suppose we will have to leave it to our imagination. Maybe he slipped the guy a $50 bill?? What a nice memory...sounds like something my dad would do, too :)

  11. I'm sorry to hear about your Dad Ellen, sounds like he was pretty awesome. The time you had with him was truly a blessing.

  12. Super sweet post, Ellen. He sounds like such a great guy.