One year ago, my father, Charles Sherwood Eldridge, left this world after fighting cancer for nearly five years.
It is a wise father, that knows his own child – William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 2, Scene 2.
Dad knew me, at times, better than I cared to admit. He saw through the shields I put up to hide how much I hurt. When the tears were done and the pain was just starting to be realized, he’d reach out a hand and squeeze mine. No words were needed.
When I had a question about just how good a ‘good deal’ job offer was – he was the first one I would call. “So, Dad…they want to offer me this, this and this…but they didn’t say anything about that and that…what do you think?” and we’d talk it out and decide whether it was going to be a good deal or not. In other words, he held my hand when I took those risky jumps – even when I was in my forties.
A huge regret in my life had been failing to graduate high school with everyone like I should have. Dad was so hurt by that – all he had ever wanted was for me to go to college and get a good job. On my 47th birthday…I finally got to give Dad that graduation celebration we missed out on – when I graduated with my Masters in Strategic Intelligence from American Military University on May 21, 2010 at the Daughters of American Revolution’s Constitution Hall in Washington, D.C.. The look of pride on his face – made it all worth it. I knew Dad was sick and I was afraid that I wouldn’t finish the degree before he was too sick to come to graduation. Ironically enough, I was fighting cancer at the time too and was really sick but I still got it done.
The last time I saw Dad alive, I thanked him for being such an awesome father and told him how much I loved him. He hugged me tight and whispered “I love you, my girl.”
When he died…he said goodbye with songs on my pandora player…that would never have been in the mix I was playing. “I come to the garden” and “It is well with my soul”. Some of my earliest memories of Dad involve music…him singing while making pancakes “Oh what a beautiful morning…oh what a beautiful day…” “You are my sunshine…my only sunshine..” or “Lavender blue…dilly dilly…”
To this day, the smell of fresh-cut grass and the sound of a Red Sox game on the TV or radio will take me back to summers as a kid and Dad working on some project or another around the house while the game was on. The other day, the breeze brought the scent of fresh-cut grass and I swore I could hear the Red Sox game on the radio..on that breeze. I knew Dad was checking in and letting me know he was doing fine and not hurting anymore.
Call me crazy…but I swear I also felt him squeeze my hand.