Know When To Hold Them



Last night, Hadley was helping me make tacos for dinner. Rather suddenly, Kenny Rogers “The Gambler” came into my head. I immediately started singing my soulful rendition. ( I fancy myself a singer. Doesn’t every body?)

My dad was BIG into music and was constantly making mix tapes for car trips with what he called “good music.” Kenny Rogers as always in the mix.

I quickly downloaded the song so Hadley could hear it and we resumed shredding and chopping ingredients for dinner whilst wiggling to the song.

I had this weird all over body goose bump sensation, and thought of my Dad. Tears streamed down my face as I chopped tomato. I let the tears fall and experienced the chills right down to my toes. Then I wiped away the tears and smiled. And continued chopping.

Now, who knows what this was and I’m not trying to get all mystical on you. And I’m amused that my otherworldly feeling came during a Kenny Rogers song too. I’m just saying…my interpretation of it is that it was my Dad saying that he’s ok and he loves me.

We listened to The Gambler again. This time Hadley sang along because she knew the words.


My mom sends us four kids emails frequently with news and goings on. They are always full of love and warmth. She is an amazing writer I often tell her.

She sent this email last night and I asked if I could put it in a post. I want it out there how special Ellen and Roger Padden are as people and as a couple. It explains so much about why I am the way I am and shows the example I was given of a true and nurturing relationship.

Today I met three new residents (note from EP: my mom is a social worker at a nursing home)...and got preliminary information from them.  One was an 86 year old woman who stated that her husband had died three years ago (my heart stopped) and that she was still grieving because she lost her best friend. The second was a 63 year old man with very complicated leg and hip issues...born in Lynn, MA.  (My heart stopped)  "Want to go to Boston, want to go to Lynn?  Look out, ......Padden, you might fall in!" Remember that poem? Jiggling a baby on your knee???  And then the man said "I will celebrate my 40th anniversary in June.  I've had a wonderful life."  The third was an elderly gentleman who got teary when I asked him if he was married.  He said that his wife had died last year after they celebrated their 60th anniversary together.  When I took his hand and said I was sorry, he said, "I'm ok." (My heart stopped)  I just smiled and said "Good".

I didn't tell my story to any of them.  It isn't about me.  I am there to help them.  But I came home so grateful that I have you all to share my grief, knowing that you miss him too and knowing that you want to keep his memories alive.  I think it is the spark that he had...the spark that I felt when I first met him as a blind date in Boston on a Friday night. It was Good Friday before Easter. I couldn't believe that anyone would go out on a Good Friday, but Joan and Fred persisted.  Later on, his mother agreed that she was shocked, too.   Joan and Fred and I picked him up in front of his mother's home. He was so joyous, so Roger Padden, in a camel hair jacket.  I thought right away...this is a special night.  I liked him so much, and I guess he liked me because he asked if I could go with him on Easter Sunday afternoon to Nahant Beach, his favorite spot in Boston.  It was a desolate beach (I picked up the black stone to remember the day in my mind) and then he ran out of gas, and we had to take the elevated back to Boston, and I had to loan him money...and I loved him then because he told of his life. I know you have heard this story many, many times, but I never tire of telling it.

He was a man of tremendous faith and humor. What a great combination.  I feel I am lacking in both without him to help me.  The Irish have so many sayings.  I do like the one "May his soul rest in Peace."  I know we all will be praying  for that tomorrow.

I am so proud of you all...and I know Dad is too.

Love, Mom 

My mom still has the black stone she found on their first date, by the way. She kept it all these years. On top of it, is a pop top (remember the old ones that came all the way off?) that my Dad used to size her finger before he purchased the ring to propose. The pop top sits on the black rock encased in a plastic half circle. I’m not explaining it well. I wish I had a picture. It’s like a paperweight. Anyway, if my sibs are reading this, I call dibs on that thing. It was a constant reminder when I was growing up of how magical love could be. Of how every day moments could be made into wonderful memories. And of how magical and special my parents were and are.

I responded to her email and among other things I said:

I choose to be joyful tomorrow and think about everything Dad has taught us and left us. To live my life with passion and purpose. To be kind to others. And to laugh.

Did you know because of Dad, Peter thanks soldiers every time he sees them? I had no idea. He just told me that yesterday.

We have no idea the breadth of Dad’s influence.


Miss and love you Dad. You’d be proud of me. Life is for the living you always said, and I’m living it.

Isle of View.

Emily Bemily



Amanda | February 17, 2010 at 3:45 PM

I felt urged to comment on your post but know am at a have been on my mind today. Your strength and ability to revel in the wonderful legacy your father has left you both stops me in my tracks everytime you speak of it. I picture you and your siblings at his funeral and your precocious statement that you were your dad's favorite...and the other wonderful stories. I am glad that you celebrating...your dad is smiling on you all

Confessions of a Mother, Lawyer & Crazy Woman | February 17, 2010 at 6:43 PM

Tears ... and hugs. What a beautiful story. Thinking of you today.

Associate Girl | February 17, 2010 at 9:29 PM

A lovely, beautiful post.

Anonymous | February 18, 2010 at 1:43 PM

Em...I am so touched by your post. You have an amazing family and you are an amazing woman. I am lucky to call you friend. xoxo Em K

Sheri Nugent | February 19, 2010 at 10:07 AM

You are so blessed to have had such lovely parents.

Mel | February 22, 2010 at 9:38 PM

It took me a while to comment. I am so inspired by this love story. No matter the loss, this story will always be there.

So brave for your mom not to tell the residents her story...just to listen to them and be in their moment. I can't believe my life is blessed by such amazing people like the Paddens.