Daddy Day

Dad, Baby Linnea and our neighbors Esther and Don

Dad, Baby Linnea and our neighbors Esther and Don

Peter and I took David out to breakfast this morning at Republic, a cafe in Manchester with truly extraordinary food—something that is not easy to find in this neck of the woods. After we got back home my stepfather Jim called from Utah and I had a chance to wish him a Happy Father’s Day as well.

I’ve been blessed with three different father figures. Jim became part of my family over twenty five years ago, and although we were all grown (in fact, I had two kids of my own by then), he has always considered us his own and we return his love and affection.

In 1985, we lost our first stepfather of sixteen years, known to us (really) as Daddy Dick. He was a character, and upon reflection, not all of his qualities were good ones, but nonetheless, I adored him.

And, of course, our father, Hilding Gunnar Olson, or rather Ollie Olson. He is the handsome fellow in the photo—the tall gentleman who is not sporting a pistol on his belt.

Sadly, dad was diagnosed with stage IV pancreatic cancer a mere four months after my own diagnosis with lung cancer. Despite a poor prognosis, he vowed to fight his disease and traveled to MD Anderson for one memorable (coinciding with Hurricane Rita) round of chemotherapy. Too weak for any further treatment, he passed away on Thanksgiving Day in 2005, his favorite holiday.

I haven’t written much about my father, but I miss him so. My first memory is of handing him a brick:  while studying for a PHD in Mechanical and Nuclear Engineering, he worked as a general contractor to support our family.

Ollie was a quiet and gentle person, who loved to garden and began composting and recycling long before such practices were vogue. He canned his own pickles, pears and peaches and our pantry was always stuffed to the brim. In his later years, he developed an avid interest in art, becoming a prolific painter.

For me, he was not just a father, but a good and easy companion. We shared many interests, and I often find myself saying “you’d really like this dad.” And I’m sure he would.

13 responses to “Daddy Day

  1. What a nice post, and thanks for sharing your “dads” with us. I only had one. He died of melanoma in 1985 and I still miss him so much. He was a rock to us, his kids, and we have tried to pass along his kind and loving goodness to our own children.

    • Roni, I am sorry about your dad. My father also had melanoma but recovered from that only to get pancreatic. I have absolutely no doubt you have passed on your father’s excellent qualities to your own kids.


  2. Oh, I hope you feel his presence. I always feel like a family should only have to deal with one cancer diagnosis at a time. What a beautiful post, and your life is a beautiful tribute to him.

    • Marie, it is because of my dad (and his continued presence) that I can say to others with certainty that a loved one will live on in their heart. I carry my father with me always.


  3. DeLovely.

    Sending you lovelovelove,

  4. Oh boy, you got me all weepy. I was just telling recent visitors how proud he’d be of my current bean crop

    • Oh, and he would. He’d take a picture of it, and maybe of you too (just for size comparison, so we could see how big those beans really were!)

      love, Linnea

  5. It was nice to learn a bit about your dad, Linnea. Sounds like the painter in him is within you, too.

    • I am glad my dad and I had that to share (a love of painting) and I inherited his paint and brushes. I just wish I was even 1/3 as prolific as dad was…he definitely had a strong work ethic too.


  6. Oh my. That’s the way your Dad always stood. My memory of Ollie is at the wheel of that big GM people mover – or whatever it was – filled up with Olsons of all ages. BUT what’s with that “neighbor” with the gun? Jeepers!

    • Sally, it was called the yellow bee, and almost sat nine comfortably. And as for the neighbor who is packing, I guess he was just aiming to protect the cute little baby in his wife’s arms (in the wilds of Michigan).


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