Losing My Umbrella – Some Thoughts on a Father’s Death

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I am looking through old pictures when my eyes begin to blur with salty tears. So many of the pictures I’ve been looking through are pictures of my father.

Whether summer or winter, there he is – his familiar face with his ready smile. My dad smiled from his bones. It was never fake, never false, it was who he was. I look at pictures from years ago and pictures from last summer with seemingly little difference. He is there, he is strong, he is fully present, he is smiling.

When your father dies, say the Irish

You lose your umbrella against bad weather.

This is the beginning of a poem by Diana Der-Hovanessian that describes how different cultures express what happens when your father dies. It’s a good beginning. Anyone who has lost their father can write their own when my father died moments. In honor of his birthday coming up on June 7th, here are mine.


When my father died, I lost a rock, someone who was steadfast and secure in a shifting world.

When my father died, I lost the offer of a bowl of icecream whenever I visited.

When my father died, I lost someone who asked me every weekend of the summer “Are you heading up to Rockport this weekend?” How he loved Rockport!

When my father died, I lost the ability to say “Hi Dad!” and hear his strong reply “Hi Marilyn!”

When my father died, I lost his well-worn jokes, told with so much laughter he could hardly make it to the punch line.

When my father died, I lost a piece of enthusiasm and love for life.

When my father died, I lost a birthday and a father’s day. There will be no more cards to send, phone calls to make.

When my father died, I lost one grandfather for my kids. I lost his earthly prayers, but his heavenly ones remain.

When my father died, I lost pieces of my childhood, now buried in a piece of earth.

When my father died, I lost my umbrella, my raincoat, and my hood. He was all those things and more.

When my father died, I lost his presence, but I kept the memories and they are sweet.

When my father died, I lost him, but I didn’t lose myself – because he never wanted me to be anyone else.

When my father died, Heaven became a lot sweeter and a bit closer.

When my father died. 


SHIFTING THE SUN by Diana Der-Hovanessian

 When your father dies, say the Irish

you lose your umbrella against bad weather.

May his sun be your light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Welsh

you sink a foot deeper into the earth.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians

When your father dies, say the Canadians

you run out of excuses.

May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Indians

he comes back as the thunder.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Russians,

he takes your childhood with him.

May you inherit his light, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the British,

you join his club you vowed you wouldn’t.

May you inherit his sun, say the Armenians.

When your father dies, say the Armenians,

your sun shifts forever

and you walk in his light.

6 thoughts on “Losing My Umbrella – Some Thoughts on a Father’s Death

  1. What a beautiful post. What wonderful memories. You were blessed to have had your father for so long. Mine died when I was 18. Testicular cancer, not diagnosed until much too late.

    How precious that your children have memories of their grandfather, too. God’s blessings to you as you remember.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. When my father died, I lost my counselor and bargain hunter. My dad was all about finding the best deal on any purchase. He regarded all his money as the Lord’s, and wanted to use it wisely.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a dear tribute to a WONDERFUL man. Ralph was such a DEAR friend and valued colleague from Pakistan days and onward. Plus his WONDERFUL wife, Polly. And his dear kids who grew up under my watchful eye. How WONDERFUL it will be to see him again in Glory! Thank you, Marilyn, for these words about DEAR Ralph!

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Thank you, Marilyn, for this poignant tribute to your father. I, too, lost so much when God called him home. Mostly for me it’s his daily presence, but as you wrote, I kept the memories and they are so, so sweet. We will celebrate his birthday by going out for Indian food and then for Abbot’s frozen custard. I think he would approve. God’s purpose for me is to keep on living, and “to run with perseverance the race set before me.” (Hebrews 12:1) I’m past the “running” part of it but I can still put one foot in front of the other.

    Liked by 3 people

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