“My father is the standard by which all subsequent men in my life have been judged.” – Kathryn McCarthy Graham

During the summer of 1998 my dad gave me a small book of quotes and poems called The Love Between Fathers and Daughters. He signed the inside of it, I put it on my nightstand and beyond that, I’m not sure I gave it much extra thought. I was 19, I had a lot going on at the time — my friends and boys were very important — but even at the time I did think it was a sweet gesture.


In August of 1998 he passed away and it became the last note he ever wrote to me that I kept. It goes without saying I pay a lot more attention to it now. I see how our handwriting is similar and it reminds me that he was always thinking of me. His only child, I was always at the center of his universe, and there was a comfort that I carried with me daily because of that relationship we had that I didn’t even realize was there until it was gone.

Holly and Dad 2

It’s been 15 years since he’s been gone and today he would have turned 59. There is part of me that mourns his loss a bit every year on this date, and this year will certainly be no different. But also today I find myself thinking more about how grateful I am for the bar that he set in my life. He was a spectacular athlete who made a successful career in the NFL when everyone told him it was impossible. He was a family man who never let a day go by without telling the women in his life that he loved him. He had the kind of smile and infectious laugh that you could hear from all the way down the street and he was willing to share it with anyone would listen. He was a loyal friend and the type of guy you could count on no matter what because he believe at the very core of his being that one should always do what they say they will do.
Holly and Dad 1
Also: He was my dad.

And while I didn’t realize it at the time, the book that he gave me about the love between fathers and daughters did capture something incredible. Some of us experience that love for many years, and others of us get shortchanged. But if you are lucky enough to still have it in your life, hold that close to your heart today, because I will tell you what, it is something that I have yet to find anywhere over these last 15 years. It’s irreplaceable. And while there is a part of me that feels sad about it, I know that who he was lives on inside of me every single day of my life. And for that, I really do feel grateful. Some days I am so grateful that it hurts.

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21 Responses to 59

  1. Happy 59th birthday!!!

  2. Stephanie says:

    I think you could make a book with just your blogs about your dad. Gives me the throat lump every time.

  3. K says:

    Hugs to you, friend.

  4. Amy says:

    I love it when you talk about your Dad. He’d be so proud of you, Holly.

  5. Meg says:

    What a wonderful post. I lost my dad five years ago – I was 23 and he was 54. I think you nailed the feeling of “being so grateful that it hurts.” Thanks for this.

  6. Jules says:

    So sweet. How lucky you were to have such a wonderful man as a father!

  7. Stephanie says:

    Today is the 15th anniversary of my mother’s death – just wanted to reach out and say you are not alone!

  8. Such a beautiful story. Thank you so much for sharing it. I’m slowly losing my father and I try to remind myself every day to enjoy the little time that we have left. Think I’m going to call him today just to say hi.

  9. Michelle says:

    This is just beautiful. I’m sure he would be so proud of the woman you’ve become since he left. He did his job well.

  10. You look so much like him! I am close to my father, and I am grateful for him everyday.

    Today, I’m extra grateful.

    Thanks for the reminder.

  11. Rose-Anne says:

    Oh, this was so lovely. I am sure he would be so proud of you today–you seem like a living example of all that he was. xoxo

  12. Liz Hudson says:

    “And while there is a part of me that feels sad about it, I know that who he was lives on inside of me every single day of my life. And for that, I really do feel grateful. Some days I am so grateful that it hurts.”

    Completely amazing words, Holly. I lost my dad a little over a year ago and have never been able to encapsulate my feelings as beautifully as you did. Thank you!!!

    Hugs to you today…how proud must he be, as a former athlete himself, to see you tearing it up at Crossfit?!

  13. Sallie says:

    so sweet. thank you!

  14. Elizabeth says:

    I’m thinking of you today and sending you extra extra hugs through the internet.
    Whenever you talk about your dad, it’s not only obvious how much you love him, but how much he loved you. I am just so sorry he is not still here.

  15. Thinking about you today, my friend 🙂

  16. Laura says:

    This was a beautiful post. We sometimes take for granted the relationships that we are given & don’t need to work for. My dad is an amazing man & I would be totally lost without him but I definitely don’t tell him that enough. Thanks Holly & I’m sorry you lost your dad too soon.

  17. Jesabes says:

    Your posts about your dad always move me to tears. You’re a beautiful writer and he was a wonderful dad.

  18. Ginny says:

    The most beautiful thing I’ve read in some time. So lovely I shed a few tears.

  19. Emma says:

    This post and the one you linked to made me bawl my eyes out, I lost my mum when I was 22 and I don’t think it ever gets easier. Happy birthday to your Dad, that book is an amazing gift and he sounds like an awesome guy. He’d definitely be proud of you and everything you’ve achieved. Much love from Australia 🙂 Emma

  20. Laura says:

    Awesome post – I really enjoy the posts about your Dad. My Dad died just before my 15th bday. It has now been almost 23 years and I still feel him with me…

    *hugs to you*

  21. carrie says:

    my dad very suddenly died almost 6 years ago, when he was 59, so your post struck a note for me. i have lots of notes and things he wrote me, but there’s one in particular that i lost, a long letter, and i can’t find it anywhere. every time i go back to my mom’s house i search for it, hoping it will be somewhere i haven’t yet looked. so far, no dice. but i’ll still hoping. thank you for this post.