Goodbye, Eugene (Gene) Dalton Havis / by vanessa

**Someone I loved dearly passed away on Tuesday morning. Technically speaking, he was the father of my ex-boyfriend (whom I was with for almost ten years). But that description doesn't begin to tell the story of how much Gene meant to me. More than just a parent of my ex-boyfriend's, he was a father to me too. At his visitation and funeral, an empty "memory book" was passed around for people to write down the time(s) they shared with Gene. I've written all of my life. And yet, when it came to journaling about someone I so deeply admire, putting my pen to paper rendered me mute. Nothing captured the depth of my sentiment. As a writer, not being able to express oneself is akin to being a running back with a broken leg. Finally, I wrote anyway. This is what came out.** Gene,

I’m at a loss.

I wanted to tell you a specific memory that would embody just how I feel about you. I replayed the last fifteen years: driving up to first meet you and Ruth in my Ford Taurus and your interest in my car and really, all things Ford; the beach at Port A, your 50th wedding anniversary and the great love in your marriage, your enthusiasm, support and moving expertise when Scott and I bought our first house, watching us as we played kickball at Christmas, the rhythmic way you emptied the pepper shaker, eating your popcorned eggs, your perfectly-timed witticisms, your quiet encouragement when it felt like the earth beneath my feet had given way, your peaceful resistance to speak poorly of others, the kind gratitude you showed when I plied you with homeopathic ointments. (You didn’t let on that they were futile.)

I held the notion that the mere snippets of you in my mind would belie the force you have been in my life. I thought if I could think of ONE BIG THING, to sum up my years with you, that that would be a better testament of my love for you than the many daily occurrences which came to mind. My memories felt inadequate.

But because I had to write something – your Memory Book deserves content – I had to let go. And when I stopped resisting what I remember about you, (“Easy does it,” as you would say), it was then I realized that maybe it is enough to recount those understated moments that pass without notice. Maybe they do epitomize how you lived your life, and what I loved about you so much.

I aspire to your modesty. I aspire to your humanity and gentle ways. I aspire to your steadiness. I miss you deeply.