A Trip and Life Cut Short

I should be in Vietnam right now.  But I am not.

Instead I am home in Bellevue, WA. My return stateside was prompted by a fateful call I received in a coffee shop in Saigon just twelve days ago.

On August 17th my dad died an unexpected and tragic accidental death at my parent’s house in Hamilton, Montana. After learning the news from my mom, I came home immediately.

Now I sit here quiet after a whirlwind of travel, an accostment of emotions that ranged from joy to confusion to suffocating sadness, buzzing and loving gatherings of family and friends and a funeral.

My world has changed.

Saigon, Vietnam

View from the rooftop of Chill Sky Bar in Saigon my final night in Vietnam and Southeast Asia..a trip cut short and permanently imprinted on my heart with joy and so much sorrow.

As a final tribute to my dad, I gave the eulogy at his funeral. While I have much to process and understand about my dad’s life and sudden death, it does not change the memories I have of him nor the great dad he was to me.

I want to share my eulogy here:

My Dad

Tom Fallows was My Dad.

My whole life my parents have always just been there…for everything. And while life’s journey insists that one day I would have to say goodbye to My Dad…this day….I still wasn’t prepared for a sorrow so deep nor a hole so gaping.

I will miss My Dad tremendously.

As I was thinking about of the words I wanted to share about My Dad I wanted to be sure that whatever I said about him would make him proud of me….but then I paused and remembered that he was pretty much proud of me no matter what I did…same went for my sister…so likely just standing up here like this in front of you all right now would be completely delightful in his eyes.

But don’t worry I won’t JUST do that. 

My Dad.

He was a fisherman, hunter, outdoorsman, engineer, naval officer, husband, brother, uncle, son, friend and father.  

He was My Dad. 

He was a lover of Montana, camping with my mom and their friends, tennis, the San Diego Chargers, kibitzing with his buddies (“kibitzing”…that was a “dad word”), a rum and coke at 5pm, twiddling around the house doing different projects, surfing the internet for stock tips on his one million year old desktop computer…who even has  a desktop anymore!  It would literally take 30 seconds to load one page…good thing, as he would like to boast, he was a patient man. 

He loved growing his tomatoes in the garden and a good political debate.

He loved feeding his rainbow trout in his pond and taking me, my sister and his grand babies out to fish for them using hooks he had glued fish food to for bait. 

He loved striking up conversations with strangers …and let’s be clear, that included ALL strangers. 

He loved to laugh.

He loved his brother, his sister, his sister-in-law, all his nieces and nephews, his adorable grand babies and son-in-law and his wonderful group of friends.  My Dad loved life….but most of all…and this was above everything else, My Dad loved my mom, my sister and me. 

And I think the greatest gift My Dad ever gave me was growing up with that kind of love. A love so complete, so unconditional and so pure that it anchors your foundation in this world that doesn’t always like to show its best light. 

My Dad.

He liked to quiz my sister and I during family outings on things like geography and the types of clouds we would see in the sky. He was a indeed wealth of knowledge…and I learn many things from My Dad.

My Dad taught me:

  • To save at least 10% of everything I earned for the future
  • To study hard and work hard
  • That there is a solution for everything…and with a little patience and super glue there is nothing that can’t be fixed
  • To be loyal to your word and those you love
  • Buy Gold
  • That there is good in everyone…and all life should be treated with respect (I particularly appreciated his catch & release chipmunk traps….he would trap the little burdensome creatures in the front yard and drop them off in a neighboring field so that they could create a new happy home there)
  • He taught me how to play poker, chess ad cooties
  • He taught me there is no accomplishment or event too small that it isn’t worth a celebration
  • And it is okay to splurge on vacations….after all that is why we work so hard
  • He taught me to laugh easy and enjoy the humor in this life
  • And lastly, My Dad taught me that a father’s love…a great father’s love…is unfaltering 

I got the news of my dad’s death while I was at a coffee shop in Saigon, Vietnam. After I hung up the phone with my mom, and picked myself up off the ground from the puddle of emotion I had sunk into, I headed back to the hotel to arrange passage home.

When I looked in the mirror that first time after the news, I no longer just saw Jen…I also saw the legacy of My Dad in me

I have his eyes, his vivacious spirit, his unwavering optimism…and I too do a pretty good job talking to strangers. 

I will miss my dad to no end…already do….and I am so thankful I got to be His Daughter. 

My Dad.

I hope I made you proud, Dad…and I hope I continue to…

I love you.

We all love you. 


Me and Dad

My Dad and Me in my parent’s backyard last year for my birthday celebration.

My Dad received an internment with full military honors…

My Dad's Grave

“The mountains are calling and I must go.” – John Muir

from One Girl’s Adventures http://ift.tt/2cayj64


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