Remembering my dad…on Father’s Day and always

Jun 14, 2019 | 8 comments |

I’m about to mark my tenth Father’s Day without my dad. Although time has lessened the raw grief of his death, his absence is still and always will be a “hole” in my life familiar to all “orphaned children” no matter how old.

I thought of Dad especially during the recent D-Day commemorations. Although he was too young to take part, the pictures of elderly veterans were a poignant reminder of those just a bit older than him, and the sacrifices they made for generations like me for whom the Second World War has always been part of history instead of a “real” event.

I think of him on other military occasions too (like Battle of Atlantic Sunday in early May) because as a proud veteran of the Royal Canadian Navy, all things maritime were an important part of his life and how he lived it.

Dad’s love of music is with me when I sing with my choir, and as I walk Floppy Ears I remember the talks I had with him when we walked my childhood dog together.

And when I enjoy pancakes made to his signature recipe, or use something of his in my home, I can almost see him there, just out of sight but never out of mind.

I also think of my dad as I face life challenges, especially advice he might have given at difficult times. Or how he’d have made me laugh, encouraged me with a hug, or taken me on an outing, just the two of us.

For the first few Father’s Days without my dad, and although I celebrated Tech Guy and the wonderful dad he is to English Rose, it was a day to “get through” rather than truly enjoy.

More recently, though, it’s become a day when I make a point of remembering my dad and everything he brought to my life, including shaping the person I am and values I live by.

Although once too painful, I now want to look at the photograph albums he compiled throughout his life which form a record of our family’s story.

I want to talk about him and why he was important to me.

And I want to share memories of him with English Rose so if she someday has children, he’ll be part of her family’s story too. Since she was only five when my dad died, her memories of him are patchy and I have a special responsibility to help make him part of her life—instead of a remote figure in old pictures.

My dad is gone physically, but what I’ll celebrate this Father’s Day is how he’s still part of my life through memories that are green in my heart.

Although he didn’t live to see me become a published author, my new book, The Wishing Tree in Irish Falls, which comes out in October, is about music so it’s dedicated to him.

And amongst all the fathers celebrating, being celebrated, or remembered this weekend, I’m blessed to have the one I did.

A writing update…

German edition of Summer on Firefly Lake 

The German version of the second book in my Firefly Lake series, Summer on Firefly Lake, came out this week as Wenn ich dir nahe bin.

This gorgeous cover by Penguin Verlag captures the feel of my book perfectly, and I’m grateful to continue to be able to share my Firefly Lake stories with German readers. 


Ottawa area readers…meet me at an event on June 22, 2019 

If you live in the Ottawa area , I’m one of several local authors speaking about what libraries mean to me at a special benefit “Evening at the Library” at North Grenville Public Library” in Kemptville, Ontario, Canada on Saturday, June 22, 2019.

More details, including ticket information here.


  1. Lydia

    What a beautiful post.

    I’m sorry for your loss.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you so much, Lydia. I appreciate you reading my post and commenting and your kind words touch my heart.

  2. Deb Noone

    Jen – what a sweet post. You are so lucky to have wonderful memories. Your dad reminded me of mine who passed 9 years ago and would have been 100 this past April. He was in WWII in the Navy, loved music, loved his grandkids (who luckily were old enough to know him well), and just missed meeting 2 of his great-grandsons, both who take after him in different ways. Cherish those memories and know your dad will always be with you.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Deb. And yes I am lucky to have these wonderful memories. I think I appreciate them more the older I get too. Your dad sounds like a special man, and how fun that we share a ‘Navy’ connection through our fathers. Like mine, your dad will always be with you as well. Thank you for commenting on my post. *Hugs*

  3. Heidi

    Your Dad was a class act, and a real gentleman. I always appreciated his typewritten letters, and his treasure trove of knowledge re: all things family history. I still can’t get over the family resemblance b/t him (as an older man) and my grandfather…the genes across the generations are strong!!

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Heidi. I appreciate your kind words about my dad. I know he also appreciated your letters and the shared family connection. And yes, the resemblance between my father and your grandfather is startling to me as well.

  4. Susanna Bavin

    Father’s Day can be such a poignant time for those whose fathers are deceased. I am glad you have, over time, been able to celebrate your father and his many attributes alongside your sorrow. You have written a wonderful tribute to him. And how lovely to have such a special reason to dedicate your new novel to him.

    • Jen Gilroy

      Thank you, Susanna. I appreciate your kind comments about my post. My dad was a special man and I wanted to share a part of him here.


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