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Bittersweet Memories

Bittersweet Memories

In 2020, we lost my daughter Ariana to depression-suicide. We will miss her presence once again, this Father’s Day. The approach of Father’s Day brings bittersweet memories. We traditionally spend the day enjoying brunch, opening gifts and eventually end up playing a game of “croquet for dad’s cash” with my daughters, their boyfriends, and friends of my daughters who have adopted me throughout the years.

Making brunch is a family affair. My wife ensures an entree is prepared or take-out is ordered from our favorite restaurant. My youngest daughter Ashley always volunteers to make one of my favorite desserts. Ariana would have prepared her signature spinach casserole dish that was made with enough garlic to linger in the house for days.

I am embarrassed to admit that I’m showered with too many gifts that are generally beyond the budget of a young working adult. My wife often gets me something practical, such as a new shirt and matching pants for work. Ashley will almost always give me a basket of my favorite snacks from Trader Joe’s and a pair of goofy socks.

Ariana would have put some thought and time into picking out a keepsake. The keepsake that stands out the most is a gift box of handwritten letters, some of the letters have already been opened, and others are to be opened on future memorable occasions.

Ariana’s letters included “To My Incredible Dad”, “Read Me When You Miss Me”, “Read Me When It’s Your Birthday”, and many more.

Father’s Day was never about food or gifts. It was about the time spent together with family and friends. Ariana had an uncanny understanding of the value of time, whether it was coming by the house early to chat and warm up her signature dish or writing letters that now provide me comfort to reread and letters to look forward to opening in the future. Her final gift of time was taking the last minute of her life to text and say how much she loved me.

I know you’re asking yourself, what is “croquet for dad’s cash” all about. It’s a modified game of crochet where $20 dollar bills are taped to the top of the metal hoops. The objective of the game is very simple, knock the croquet ball through as many hoops as possible to win dad’s cash. Ariana never really won any money playing croquet, she was more interested in spending time talking with everyone and playfully refereeing a player’s questionable winnings.