Today he would be 94 years old. Instead, he’s been away from us for 10 years.

I’d like to share a few things with you, Dad. A few things I know you would love to hear about.  First, are you ready for this?  I am going to be a Grandma!  One of my stepsons and his beautiful wife are expecting a baby. You never met any of them, but I know you would be thrilled.  A Grandma!  Can you imagine? All my gray hair, which I got through your genes, I must add – is finally going to have a nice reason to be here.

The baby will be born in the end of March, so we are planning a trip to California to meet her/him the following month. And, remember how I used to love to run? When we fly to see the baby, we will take the opportunity to run together a beautiful race, from a place called Big Sur to a place called Carmel. Gorgeous places. We will run only 10.6 miles, the marathon is out of the question for us due to the injuries accumulated over the years…  We are not young kids anymore… (sigh).

Another thing you would love to know. This week, Phil and I decided to celebrate your memory by playing chess.  We set a board over the kitchen table and each day we do one or two moves.  I must say, Dad, you were a fantastic chess player but a very impatient teacher.  Hummmmm…. am I guilty of the same crime? I suppose I might be…. ANYWAY,  playing chess definitely brings you here to our home. I can close my eyes and see that look in your face, super serious, as you analyzed the chessboard and considered your next move. Then, I would quickly move my piece, and you would raise your eyes, trying your best not to seem too upset and say “Are you SURE you want to do that?

Finally, let me share something I know would make you very very happy, and proud.  This is a video about the research of our lab. I think it captures the essence of what we do, and hopefully how much we love doing it.

That’s about it for now, Dad.  Ten years, five months, a few days that you are gone.  But gone is a relative term.



41 thoughts on “A LETTER TO MY DAD

  1. Sally darling, this was beautiful, thank you for sharing it with us. I’m sure your dad would have been ridiculously proud of you and the Handsome Stud – what a fabulous video. As I said, I didn’t understand it all, but that actually made it MORE impressive rather than less! 😀


    • Celia, as you know by now, I changed my mind and decided to include it here. Oh, well – I wish my Dad knew about my blog, but that also happened after he was gone. I know he would be an avid reader. I just know….


  2. Oh Sally, congratulations on becoming a grandma, that’s exciting news… this is such a delightful and poignant letter… thank you for sharing. xo


    • Thank you…. the natural order of the universe makes parents leaving us. So I cannot be too sad, he went when he had to go. Still, he was such a big person, the void is hard to accept. But he is with me every single day.


  3. Thanks for sharing both the video and the letter to your Dad, Sally. Loved the video, both you and Phil have a nice way of making complex scientific things somewhat understandable and interesting, at least at a high level, by someone who is totally non-scientific. And, the letter to your Dad brought back memories of my Dad. He, also, loved to play chess and taught me how. I miss him and playing chess with him, but, I have the memories.


    • Isn’t chess an amazing game? It requires patience, which I lack. It requires concentration, which I can have, but rebel against. A fascinating game…. I know my Dad hoped I would turn out as a great player. Oh, well… it’s like baking cakes, I just don’t have it


  4. First I need to wipe off the tears running down my face. This was such a touching letter Sally. My favorite line – “gone is a relative term.” So true. Oh, now I’m starting up again. Goodness. I know you will love being a grandma, and I know you will be a fantastic one!!! Your run sounds phenomenal – a beautiful part of the world indeed! Much love and many hugs to you!


    • I completed a 8.5 mile run today, so I feel I am there already as far as training is concerned. Actually, the race is so far away in time, I must find a way to keep this distance going throughout the Kansas winter… Can you hear the whining? Can you? 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well, I really didn’t expect to need Kleenex to do a routine visit here. Also, I thought I’d only watch a few seconds of the K State video — watched the whole darned thing — very interesting (I grew up in Hibbing, Minnesota the location of the largest open pit iron ore mine and my dad worked in the mines — maybe that’s why I never get sick!) Finally, I thought your lab staff looked very good despite the number of excellent things over the years that have gone directly from your kitchen to the lab. Gramma? Wow — I know that you know all of our crazy American idioms now but just in case, I will tell you that in the context of grandchildren, spoiling is actually a good thing.


    • GREAT! I also thought that the video captures the attention – I have no patience for long videos but Phil’s narrative was spot on… I think… 😉

      yes, I intend to spoil that baby ROTTEN! 😉


  6. Sally: Thank you in capital letters for this! Three separate comments –

    * I lost my beloved father at age 28 a long time ago: I still ‘talk’ to him almost daily and actually feel he answers my questions and points me in the right direction and is proud when I manage something well. Your letter to your Dad touched me deeply.

    * I thought I understood pretty well what you were trying to accomplish at Kansas State – that wonderful video showing both of you at work and Phillip so clearly explaining has tripled my understanding . . . Shall go thru’ it another couple of times tonight – with only one tertiary year of biochemistry behind me I had no idea of the importance of iron in this for instance.

    * You and your husband are very fortunate indeed that you are able not just to share your domestic life and interests but will have such a fabulous and satisfying body of work behind the two of you when time comes to go onto other life ventures. Thank you for a wonderful post!!


    • Thank you so much for your wonderful comment… yes, I feel super lucky in that Phil and I have so many things together – our work started our relationship, we were co=workers before having any romantic involvement, and we formed such a great team in the lab… It is amazing to me that we extended that connection to all other levels of life – from romance to running, to golf, to supporting each other’s adventures, and… now to chess…. My Dad used to beat Phil in chess 9 out of 10 times…. I need to get better 😉 😉


    • Karen, thanks so much for stopping by and leaving me this note…. 9 years is a long time, but doesn’t that seem like yesterday too? the memories stay forever, or rather for as long as we have our mind in full working condition, which is something I want to keep going for a long, long time, if I can.


  7. Sally,
    Your post left me in tears. It’s been 4 months since we moved here and I really miss my parents.
    On a different note.Congratulations! a grandmother! I just know you will be an amazing one!
    Last but not least,thank you for the video. I loved learning a little more about your work..fascinating!


    • Sawsan, leaving our home country is not easy. It takes a long, long LONG time to accept the change and embrace it. I know exactly how you feel, and also know that the road ahead is full of ups and downs, and regrets, and also joy. You did the right thing but it might take a long time to incorporate it all….. many hugs going your way…


    • Mike, YOU are an inspiration! Triathlete…. every time I stop by your site I am in awe of everything you do and the way you go about it, with a light and natural, spontaneous way – you rock! A virtual high five to YOU! 🙂


  8. so beautiful Sally and full of enormous love. these traditions keep our connections alive and breathe life into the idea that we never truly part… as you say, gone is a relative term… I’m sure that your dad continues to smile down on you Sally and witnesses all that you are and are becoming. Congratulations on your soon-to-be grandma status. I just know your tender heart will be spoiling that grandchild to bits!! xx big hug.


  9. Your father would look at that video with tears in his eyes for all you and Phil have accomplished that will help people around the world. When I looked at the video several days ago I immediately shared it with John who laughed at me when I asked, “Cells have tongues??”

    Your father looks over you with love and I love you too. You’re just the best.


  10. I’m so sorry. But I’m really excited about your becoming a grandma! It’s fun, although mine isn’t doing too much yet… I don’t know if it will be your first time to be in that part of California, but I’m from Carmel, and Big Sur is so stunning, you will want to stay! Love the video!


    • Yes, I’ve been to Carmel and Big Sur quite a few times – first time was back in 1987, and fell totally in love with both places. At that time I stayed in Carmel and visited Big Sur during a day trip. Since then, I went back with Phil 5 or 6 times, always staying at Big Sur, Deetjen’s – it is a magical place, and where we will be staying when we run the race. They will have a special van to take runners to the starting point and back. Looking forward to it, really do…


  11. Gone is a relative term, Sally. Our parents are with us for our entire journey through Life. This is such a beautiful post and loving letter to your Father. I was as fascinated learning about your work and research as I was happy to read that your family is growing. Congratulations!


    • Thank you, John – I wish my Dad had been alive to see my blog – but, unfortunately it all developed long after he left us. Oh, well –

      you are right – parents are with us for the duration of our journey here.


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