This post is written in honor of my late father, Michael. Next week is his birthday – he would have turned 70 on February 13. I wrote the text below last year as a submission to the Washington Post Magazine column called Mine, in which people tell the story of a treasured possession in 250 words or less. My submission was not chosen (yet!), so I thought I would share it with you today. Happy Birthday, Dad.
In May of 1998, on the eve of my college graduation, I stood with my father on the outdoor terrace of the beautiful Keswick Hall in Charlottesville, Virginia. He joked that he was sorry he didn’t have a grand estate like Keswick that I would inherit. I said, “That’s ok – all I really want to inherit from you is the Skegness poster.” Little did I know that a month later the poster would be mine after my father’s unexpected passing at the age of 53. I hand carried it back to the US from his London home after the funeral.
The poster had been around my whole life – my father had brought it with him from England when he arrived in America in the late 60’s to attend graduate school. He met my mother just days later, and she framed the poster in the happy yellow frame I had always known it in. It was a railway advertisement for getaways to Skegness, a chilly English beach resort town. As a child, I’d always loved the jolly man skipping down the beach in his scarf and boots. As an adult, I see the poster that has always been a part of our family through marriage, divorce, several international moves, and one serious house fire. Recently reframed, it now hangs in our living room. My children never had the chance to know their grandfather, but it makes me happy that a part of him is part of their everyday lives.
Choosing a new frame, October 2013.