By Gina Ficociello
Something so beautiful…
I was waiting with my dad, passing time before he went into surgery and I asked him if he had any idea how much I tell his stories and repeat his little snippits of wisdom.
He looked surprised and asked me what I meant. Apparently he had no idea. He was a master story-teller and probably the wisest and funniest person I have known. Usually he’s both at the same time.
Complaining to him about something not being fair, he’d say, “Gina if you want fare, be a bus driver and you can collect it all day.” It was a simple play on words, but one of my favorites. “You can’t always have a treat, sometimes you have to be a treat.” “I taught you everything I know and you still don’t know nothing.” The list is endless. He was a great person to go to for advice because he’d either tell you something wise and encouraging, or he’d tell you something funny. Usually both.
But my favorite was something he did when I was little, which of course he didn’t remember.
We grew up in an old farmhouse and my parents had refinished the upstairs attic for us girls. So when it stormed, the windows would rattle and it was scary. I’d often sneak downstairs and sleep on the couch when there was a thunderstorm. One time I was so scared I wanted to sleep with them and knocked on their bedroom door. Instead, he took me to the front-porch screen door and he told me to look outside.
I was so afraid the lightening would come through that I didn’t want to do it, but found some courage to step up and look.
I trusted him.
It was really beautiful watching the lightening crack across the sky. He explained grounding and how we were safe in the house. The storm was outside.
I remember just standing there in silence and watching the storm in awe. Ever since, I love watching storms and often reflect back to that moment. I have done the same with my kids and have tried to instill the same love and awe of nature that my dad had instilled in me.
It was time for him to head off to surgery, so we said our good byes expecting to see him in recovery a couple of hours later. He was a two time cancer survivor and had some intestinal issues that had been corrected with a simple surgery in the past.
Not so this time.
This was my last conversation with my dad. I was so thankful that I had the chance to share this memory with him and tell him how much his words of wisdom have shaped my way of thinking over the years.
I can’t help but wonder what my kids will remember about me and what I have tried to pass on to them. Which stories, which jokes? What words of wisdom will linger and shape their thoughts?
I was able to say some words at my dad’s funeral mass and I made sure to include this story. I told everyone how something so scary, can be so beautiful. I can still see myself as a little girl standing in front of the screen door in bare feet watching the storm with my dad behind me. It wasn’t until after he passed that those words took on a new meaning.
Something so scary, can be so beautiful…
…so I finished writing my thoughts, reading back through what was written and I get a call from my daughter.
She is in the back of an ambulance.
Car crashed into a median.
It really shakes me that I am writing about my dad’s death as my daughter has a near death experience. Goose bumps.
In a near trance I get dressed and go out to the accident site. The car hit so hard the engine separated from the body.
Looking at the car, all I can do is thank God she was wearing her seatbelt and driving my car instead of hers. My car has airbags and hers doesn’t. Talking to the police officer and I can hear the words, but I feel numb. She was afraid to call me; she thought I’d be mad she crashed my new car. I had just got it three months ago.
I loved that car, but nothing like I love her. I am glad she was driving my car—it kept her alive. Her close friends came over to make sure she was okay and I can hear them talking in her room through the wall.
I can hear her laughing. She’s okay. She’s alive.
Waiting to see the beautiful in something so scary.
Gina Ficociello is a budding writer living in Amherst, Ohio with her two teenage daughters, Josie and Julia, and adorable dog, Yoshi. Growing up on a farm gives her a unique perspective derived from love of nature. She’s the kind of girl that would sit out all night just to watch the moon glow and then sleep outside of the tent to watch the sunrise.
Editor: Dana Gornall