I'd like to welcome Kate Lutter, fellow Crescent Moon Press author, to Changing Your Universe.
We're all the sum total of our life experiences, but there are moments when someone or something affects us, possibly even influences the direction our lives will take. Here is one of those stories.
“Changing My Universe—A Tribute To My Father”
The night I stood at the podium and faced well over 100 people, I wasn’t nervous. They had come to pay tribute to me. To say goodbye.
I was ready to embark on a new career. I was leaving a very successful career as an elementary school principal to write novels full time. Some thought I was crazy. But, at that moment, as I faced my colleagues and the teachers and the parents I had worked with for eight years, I could think of only one person.
Who wasn’t there.
Who had died years before.
But I wanted him to be there because I wanted to see his face and hear his voice.
Yeah, even though I was a grown woman and had been in charge of a large school, and made decisions and had many people depend on me, at that moment I missed my father more than anything.
The night I received the news that I’d sold Wild Point Island, my first novel. After ten years of writing. After writing four novels that I couldn’t sell. After receiving letters that were this close to being letters of acceptance. After receiving tons of rejections. After thinking that I was never going to sell. That night, after the excitement in my head had died down, I remember thinking how much I would have wanted to call him, my dad, with the news.
Because even though he was a famous engineer and inventor and well known in his own field, he’d also written and published a short story in his high school year book. I’d only discovered this little known fact the week he lay dying in the nursing home. I’d stood vigil that week writing his obituary, going through his papers, and I’d discovered my father was a writer and I’d most likely inherited my writing talent from him.
It is bittersweet to finally reach some measure of success years after your father is no longer alive.
So by now you’ve guessed it—the man who “changed my universe” was my father. He didn’t do anything dramatic. He lived his life according to his own moral code, but he turned out to be the most exquisite role model.
Case in point. My dad started his own business—a company to market the products he invented. I remember he would invite to lunch the guy who came in to fix the photocopy machine. He would throw something into the little toaster oven he had in the kitchen—kielbasa or chicken and make the guy a sandwich—and they would sit and chat. When the bigwigs came to visit from the National Bureau of Standards in Washington, D.C. he served them the same kind of lunch. Maybe he would send someone down to the A&P for potato salad. In my father’s mind, there was no distinction to be made. He treated all people the same.
When I’m confused or unsure of myself, my dad is still my touchstone. What would my father do? How would he act?
When he was told he had Alzheimer’s Disease and Parkinson’s, he handled those last years with both dignity and grace. He never complained. The last time I remember having a conversation with him when he still knew me, he mouthed the words, “I love you.”
He didn’t need to say anything more.
“I love you, too, Dad.”
I grabbed his hands, which had begun to shake, and I tried to hold onto the moment, but I couldn’t for very long because that’s how time is.
It moves on, and you have to move on with it.
But here’s to you, Dad, for being there when you could be there. For me.
Happy Belated Father’s Day!