Monday, February 16, 2009

Requiem For My Father

It's 6 years today my father died. Lying in a hospital bed, the life draining away from him and the doctors saying it was only the drugs keeping him alive now. So we let him go.

He was a wonderful man. Not particularly brave or courageous or even a 'manly' man but he was my father, made me feel safe and I respected him, for all his foibles and weaknesses.

In a way I understand him better now, how his life shaped him and how his shaped mine.

We worked together very closely in the family book business for years and our day couldn't start before we'd had our early morning coffee and finished the Daily Telegraph crossword puzzle.

He was both lenient and hard on me and I carried my fair share of heavy boxes down to the basement from huge trucks laden with palettes of overstocks. Pricing by hand, the smell of new books, papercuts from the pristine covers, often working in companionable silence, two people just doing what we loved.

I thought it would never end, the shop would always be there, but the recession took it away in the early 90s, after 100 years. It was a sad day and a huge hole was left but nothing compared to the huge hole my father's passing has left.

And so I sit here listening to the last album he loved, Eva Cassidy's Songbird, crying, lost in the painting I did for him soon after his death and reflecting on our life together.

Rest well. I love you Dad.

Peter Oppenheim
22.04.25 - 16.02.03


  1. It's a beautiful memory of your father. I'm sure he's with you today as you are thinking of him.

  2. Fathers are special. My daughters will never know their father - he chose suicide. I often wonder how it must feel for them not ever knowing their father. For me it is unimaginable as my dad also played a huge part in my life.

    It's good that you remember him fondly.

  3. Oh, Nicola, that is lovely. I have been posting thoughts of loss on my blog too lately- perhaps it is the change in our economy that is having everyone lose a little bit more, and we think more deeply about it now. I wrote about the loss of my ex-husband, with a link to a photography gallery on the them of "Loss" in Berkeley, CA. I have not lost my parents yet, but I can not even imagine the hole that will leave. Go ahead and cry, and let it all out. People try to be so tough and think we need to bottle it all up. I think it's so much better to be honest and share more. I think we are coming to a time when generations are more real... Kids share more than ever online, and I think it will, in the end, be a bit healthier for everyone to be honest. Enjoy the memories of your Dad, and thank you for sharing.- Colleen

  4. Thank you both for those comforting words. It seems to be getting harder as I feel him slipping away more and more as each year passes.

    And Claudia, I'm so sorry your daughters won't know their father, that's so sad, but they have you, and in time, if not now, will appreciate you even more :)

  5. Colleen, writing that little piece has certainly helped me today. And your touching response was most welcomed, thank you.

  6. It's been 25 years since I lost my father and I still miss him. Thanks for sharing this. It's a lovely memory and it made me think of my father today. That's good thing.

  7. Fred, your father too must have been a wonderful man for you to be missing him and have such fond memories still.

    I'm glad in some small way I helped you reconnect with him for a while today.

  8. That's a wonderful piece of writing, very moving. Really lovely.