Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Remembering Dad

These are the memories that Lindy, Lee, and I wrote about our dad, Ed Fowler, who died on March 9, 2014.  These memories were read as part of his funeral service.

The following was written by Ed’s daughter, Laurie.
My initials are E.L.F. and although my given name is Elizabeth Laurie Fowler, I was named in part so my initials would honor my dad.  I used to hate being called by my middle name and vowed that I was changing it when I was older, but today I am very glad that my initials are the same as my dad’s.
My dad was the smartest man I knew. When I was in elementary school, he was my “daddy dictionary” because if he was around he could define and spell any word I was having trouble with.  He was an excellent, if sometimes harsh, editor and proofreader for many a paper that I wrote.
 I remember my dad read all the time—he read newspapers, biographies, nonfiction, mysteries, spy novels, and literature. Lindy, Lee, and I were probably the only kids that preferred going to a book store, rather than a toy store. Our odds of getting to buy a book when we were with Dad were pretty good. 
After divorce, my Dad remained a presence during my teenage years.  He taught me to drive and to care for the mechanical quirks of my 1968 Volkswagen Beetle. He wiped away my tears when I made my first Cs and assured me that I would still go to college.  And Dad told me that my life was not over when a boy that I liked didn’t like me.  Dad never belittled my teenage problems, but he offered practical advice and a shoulder to cry on.
Cooking and eating were passions of my dad.  He could make the best Fettuccine Alfredo and the best from-scratch clam chowder.  Because he was an adventurous eater, he taught me to be one, too.  Growing up, I ate lobster, shrimp, artichokes, Eggs Benedict, caviar, and other exotic things;  however, I never did pick up his love for raw oysters or fried baloney sandwiches.
I remember the wonderful trips and experiences that I had with my Dad. For many years, he took us to the beach for the Alabama Press Association Annual Meeting.  Playing on the beach with my family are some of my favorite vacation memories. He took me to concerts including Willie Nelson and Lionel Richie; and he took me to symphonies, and to the Alabama Shakespeare Festival. Dad loved to go to sporting events and it sure helped that he had a press pass. I remember seeing a golf tournament with him and meeting Jerry Pate.  He also loved to watch Atlanta Braves baseball and Alabama football and basketball and lots of times I had the joy of being there with him.
Reading and writing were his passions, and he handed them down to me. For this, I am forever grateful. Dad also taught me that life is not fair which was a hard, but necessary lesson.  He always let me and Lindy and Lee know how special we each were and that it was perfectly fine to be different from each other. Dad was there for me with a hug, or a phone call, or a blue pencil edited letter when I needed one.  My dad rarely let a visit go by without telling me how proud he was of me. 
For my college graduation, Dad wrote a column in the Montgomery Advertiser where he offered these wishes:
First, for a rewarding career that offers challenge and satisfaction rather than simple opportunity to make money.
And, second for the love of another person to share the life that lies ahead.

Dad introduced me to Robert Frost’s poetry, probably in 3rd or 4th grade, when he used a quote from The Road Less Traveled to explain why I was different from other kids in my class. I am sure I had been made fun of for being smart and was feeling pretty down about it. My Dad (and Mom) did their best to make me feel secure in being smart and being a girl, but also they provided much needed grounding to keep me bearable to live with! 

There was a reason to choose the path less traveled--the difference it made in the long run. Making good choices, if less popular, was a life skill that my Dad taught me.  So I leave you with this quote from Robert Frost:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
 I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.

These are the memories of Ed’s daughter Lindy.
I was most definitely a “Daddy’s girl.”  Some of my earliest memories of my father involve music.  I remember dancing around the room with him holding me tight.  He was a great dancer – he could slow-dance and do the bop.  My favorite dance with him was on my wedding day when we danced at my reception.  I’ll never forget the look of pride in his eyes as he sang the words of the song we were dancing to – “You’re the end of the rainbow, my pot of gold, Daddy’s little girl, to have and to hold.”
 Daddy also loved singing.  Although he never sang in public, our house and car was constantly filled with music.  We sang along to the radio – our entire family, eventually being able to harmonize and sound pretty darn good!  It was years before I realized that not everyone sang every note of a song – including the instrumental bridge.  He and my mom introduced me to classic artists such as Carol King, Willie Nelson, and Simon & Garfunkel.  Daddy and I also performed an amazing version of the duet “Islands in the Stream,” with me singing as Dolly Parton and him as Kenny Rogers. 
When my parents got divorced, he came to pick me up for school every day and he would bring me home from ballet class at night.  He was a gifted writer and he passed on his love of the written word to all of us kids.  He wrote special articles dedicated just to me for my 16th birthday and when I graduated from college.
I lived with him – just the two of us- the summer between my freshman and sophomore years in college.  I can remember calling him from the apartment as he was about to head home from work and asking, “Do you think the HOT NOW sign is on?”  It usually was and he would come home with a dozen Krispy Kremes for us to share. 
My daddy was unbelievably proud of me as his daughter, a sister, a teacher, a wife, and a mother.  He was a very loving and dedicated Poppa to my four kids, Hallie Grace, Luke, Eli, and Ella Kate.  Some of my most treasured memories are handing him my sweet newborn babies in the hospital, so that they could meet their Poppa for the first time.  He loved his grandchildren fiercely, and was always bragging about them to anyone who would listen.  Although we didn’t see him as much as we would like, the times we did spend together, were filled with love and laughter.  And now, my children can carry those precious memories of their Poppa with them always.
My daddy was an amazing man and I loved him with all my heart. There is an empty space in my heart now that he’s gone—a girl never really grows out of being her “Daddy’s girl.”  I will miss him every day and I am so blessed to have called him my Daddy. I am so thankful to know that I will see him in heaven one day and that we will be able to dance together once again.

And these are the memories of Lee, Ed’s son.
I have so many thoughts and memories of my dad that it feels impossible to pick just a few.
The main thing my father was to me was supportive. Throughout my life I have been able to go to him for advice, listen, and then make my own decisions.  His advice has generally been true, and even if I didn’t follow it, he supported me and made sure I knew that he was on my side no matter what.  I know it must be difficult for a parent to let their kids make mistakes, and deal with the consequences of those mistakes, but dad did that for me countless times, and never judged me for it.
Even when growing up, he supported me in following my passions. Most fathers dream of their sons becoming athletes – stars of football, baseball, basketball. Athletic prowess has never been my strong suit, but I have always been passionate about artistic pursuits: music, theatre, and writing. He came to see me in the marching band several times a year in high school and college, saw every play I performed in, and read my short stories as quickly as I could give them to him. He always supported me and let me know how proud he was of me, not because I was the best, but because I loved doing it. And because I loved it, he loved it too.
His love of music is something that all of his children carry to this day. As a kid, I hated being forced to listen to his favorite: Willie Nelson. 
Then, sometime in my early 20’s I heard “Blue Eyes Cryin’ in the Rain” playing at a record store and was singing along before I even noticed.  As time passed I realized that my dad had pretty great taste in music. He fostered me to develop my own tastes as well. I don’t think any of my friends have parents who not only listened to, but enjoyed Nirvana, Pearl Jam, and the rest of the music that was so important to me as I grew up.
Finally, he was a very giving man. Even in times when he didn’t have much to give by way of money or gifts, he always made sure to give me as much time as he could. My earliest childhood memories of my dad are fishing with him at the lakes at NorthRiver Yacht Club in Tuscaloosa, on a quiet Sunday morning, just me and him. We never caught much, mainly because I wanted to talk about everything going on in my world, and scared away the fish. Good thing, then, that catching fish was not the point of these days together. The time spent was.
I can think of no better tribute to my dad than the final words of the song that will always represent what he has meant to my life.
Your time has come to shine
All your dreams are on their way
See how they shine
If you need a friend I'm sailing right behind
Like a bridge over troubled water I will ease your mind

1 comment:

Emeka Barclay-Marshall said...

I enjoyed reading about your dad. It made me think of how precious time is with our family. The moments that seem so normal eventually become epic memories we cherish. This made me smile. You should write more stories.

BTW, you need a follow button.