dad

I’m not sure where to start, or why I’m writing this here. I just have to, so I hope you’ll indulge me.

My dad died very suddenly, early Friday morning. He was in Jamaica, for the 8th year in a row, to run at the Reggae Marathon with a group of his friends. They refer to themselves as “The Four Amigos”, and this is their annual running trip. The race was set for Sunday morning, but they always go a few days early to get used to the heat … translation: to hang out, laugh, run on the beach, and drink Red Stripe beer. On Friday morning my dad had gone for a run on the beach with one of the other amigos, and then headed back to his room for a quick shower before breakfast… but he never arrived at breakfast. Even as I write this I can’t believe it’s real.

He and my mom had just come home from a month long trip to India and Nepal… their 50th wedding anniversary trip. I was nervous about him jetting off to Jamaica right after such a big trip, but I learned a long time ago that, when it comes to running, none of us could ever convince my dad not to race! He has done 29 full marathons and at least 60 half marathons. I’m proud to say I’ve run several races with my dad over the years (and finally beat him for the first time about 3 years ago… I had to wait for him to turn 70 before I even had a chance).

If you listen to my podcast, or have ever heard me speak, I talk about my parents a lot. My dad is a PhD scientist, and my mom is an artist… and I suppose I am a fine blend of both. When I was in first year university, as a marine biology major (yep, true story), it was my dad that called me half way through the year and encouraged me to switch into fine art. He said “You’ve been an artist since the day you were born – it’s who you are – it’s what you have to do.” I mentioned he has a PhD, right? And he told me to SWITCH INTO ART?!

One of my favorite childhood memories, was when I drew this masterpiece, titled “Big Bird, Little Tree“:

I was three. My dad came by, looked over my shoulder and said, “Well, we have to put that in a frame.” He always framed all of my mom’s paintings, and for my bird in the tree he used all of the fancy tools he used for her work… a mat, real glass, and an amazing gold frame (it’s hanging in my studio right now). I remember feeling so proud. I felt like a REAL artist, just like my mom.

Through my whole life, Dad was the one to give me practical advice … yep, scientist. He taught me the thrills of list-making and binder dividers. He taught me to prioritize things that mattered to me, and then to put my head down and go get them. He had great, memorable sayings too… anytime I said anything about being lucky when it came to my achievements, Dad would say: “Yep, it’s a funny thing – the harder you work, the luckier you get.”  I don’t say I’m lucky anymore, now I say “I work my ass off.” Which I do, and I’m so glad my dad knows that.

Last week I was speaking in Vancouver, and my parents were in the front row. While I was signing books, my dad quickly cut the line to say goodbye. He wasn’t a very effusive guy, but for some reason on this particular night, he took the time to tell me how proud he was. He said, “Not only are you a wonderful speaker, it’s quite something to watch you inspire and move an entire room full of people… I couldn’t be more proud of you.” He died a week later.

I love you so much, Dad. I can feel you watching over us already. I know everyone has their time to go, and I’m glad that yours was in a place you love, surrounded by good friends, after a run on the beach. But it was too soon. We had more races to run.

I’ll be taking a bit of time off from posts and the podcast to be with my family. ~ Danielle xo

ps. My dad had a blog too. I set it up for him on Father’s Day a bunch of years ago. It’s called Running In the Zone.






comments (71)

  1. Margga Duval /// 12.02.2018 /// 5:23pm

    Sou brasileira e, buscando inspiração para retomar os posts em meu blog, encontrei o seu. Fiquei comovida com sua perda e senti necessidade de lhe dizer que… sinto muito!

  2. stephanie /// 12.02.2018 /// 5:32pm

    My sweet beautiful Danielle. I am so sorry. I love hearing your stories about your dad. Even though I never met him, I love him, because he and your mom brought you into this world. So he’s pretty much a superstar. I’m glad he was happy and doing what he loved. And that you truly know how proud he was of you. Your dad strikes me as someone who knew how to make the absolute best out of this short life we have. Love you so much. Hugs to you and your family. xox

  3. Kelly B /// 12.02.2018 /// 5:36pm

    Oh, Danielle. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing so much about your dad over the years, what a wonderful father to have been given. Sending love to you and your entire family. xoxo

  4. Terry-Ann /// 12.02.2018 /// 6:03pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss. Dan was such a special person. I always admired his positivity and his pleasant attitude towards just about everything, always seeing the good in all people, things and situations. Please convey my deepest sympathies to your mom. I am from Jamaica. Your dad and my dad went to school together in Guelph. My mom tells me that your mom and dad made her feel so welcome in Canada while living there, when my dad was studying. My mom truly appreciated your parents’ kindness. I never got to meet your dad in person, however, we connected on FB and I enjoyed our chats, especially the stories he would tell me about my dad and they’re time together in Guelph. I am very sorry he’s no longer here in flesh, and I will miss him. Sending lots of love to you and your family.

  5. Amanda /// 12.02.2018 /// 8:29pm

    I’m so sorry for your sudden and excruciating loss Danielle. I love hearing about the hand your dad had in helping you become the person and artist you’ve become. Sending you lots of love.

  6. Ninotchka Rivera Beavers /// 12.02.2018 /// 9:14pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss, Danielle. God speed to your wonderful father and so much love to you and your family as you grieve his sudden passing and honor the man that he was. Big hugs to you!

  7. Jen /// 12.02.2018 /// 10:18pm

    “Not only are you a wonderful speaker, it’s quite something to watch you inspire and move an entire room full of people… I couldn’t be more proud of you.” This made me tear up. What a lovely, lovely thing to have left you with. I’ve seen you speak, and I know you don’t need to hear this from a stranger on the internet, but it’s true. Your work is so valued. I’m so sorry for your loss and wish you and your family peace.

  8. Rossana Taormina /// 12.03.2018 /// 1:58am

    I’m so very sorry for your loss.
    My dad died four years ago but he lives in my heart and in my memory
    Over time the pain becomes a little bit more bearable.
    We are lucky because we have received so much love

  9. Julie /// 12.03.2018 /// 2:29am

    I was so sorry to hear this news. Sending hugs xx

  10. Chris Morales /// 12.03.2018 /// 2:59am

    Hi Danielle. While I only knew your Dad for 8 years, he had a very big impact on my life. I was able to run with him in Jamaica for 8 years (yes, even this year I ran with him). Two things will stick out: The sunset he and I enjoyed Thursday evening and the last run we had together on Friday morning. Love. Chris

  11. Cliff Forster /// 12.03.2018 /// 4:51am

    Oh Danielle, I’m so so very sorry to hear this devastating news. I can’t adequtely express just how much I think of him.
    (i can’t describe him in the past tense) Your Dads ability, character thoughtfulness and nature made me realise what a good person is made up of. I watched your Dad in both commercially stressful situations where he eloquently kept it together, kept it on point and through preparation and focus achieved the objective of the day, I’ve had the pleasure of your Dads company in a social setting and watched him captivate a room with his warmth and thoughtful personality. Your Dad inspired me in so many ways, he made me want to be a better person. I simply can’t believe this terrible and devastating news. Please send our love to your Mum with our heartfelt and deepest condolences to all the family. Your Dad will always remain in my heart as one of the finest men I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. Cliff, Gail and Phoebe xxx

  12. christine /// 12.03.2018 /// 4:52am

    I have a very similar relationship to my dad, Danielle, and I can only imagine how difficult this is for you. Please know that you have people you don’t know, who you have touched in many ways, who wish you all the peace and strength you’ll need to transition into this new space. Dads are very special, and clearly, yours in no exception.

  13. leigh hannan /// 12.03.2018 /// 5:13am

    This is a lovely tribute; thanks for sharing with us 🙂

  14. simone /// 12.03.2018 /// 5:39am

    Danielle, thank you so much for sharing. I am Jamaican and I am so happy that your Dad found joy there. I read his blog and was so touched. May you and your family find peace. One Love.

  15. Susanna /// 12.03.2018 /// 5:40am

    So sorry to hear about your loss. It was very touching to read your post, lovely memories to hold. My heart goes out to you and I’m sending you lots of love and all best thoughts.

  16. Lauren A /// 12.03.2018 /// 5:46am

    I am so very sorry for such a shocking loss. My thoughts are with you.

  17. Jackie /// 12.03.2018 /// 6:23am

    Sending you thoughts and prayers. Your father sounds like an extraordinary man. I hope that your many wonderful memories will sustain you in the weeks and months to come. ♥️

  18. Vivien /// 12.03.2018 /// 6:24am

    So sad for you and your family; it was a jolt to see this news on your site because all of your listeners have become so familiar with your Dad’s character through your stories. It was magical that he said those things to you only a week ago. Wow. Thank you for sharing, and love to you and your family.

  19. Genevieve Moore /// 12.03.2018 /// 7:50am

    My deepest condolences, Danielle. Of course we all indulge you in your writing, which is beautiful! And it’s your blog so you write whatever you want to. 😉 May you find comfort and peace in this sad time.

  20. Shachi /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:12am

    ❤️

  21. Courtney /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:22am

    What a beautiful tribute. As the daughter of a similarly incredible dad my heart goes out to you

  22. theGK /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:37am

    ❤️

  23. Navin Sadarangani /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:41am

    This is a beautiful tribute, Danielle. I am not surprised to read of some of the things your dad did for you and your family. In the short span of 8 yrs, Dan was always a person who had some valuable advise to give. Very soon I started to look up to him as a mentor and always respected his opinion & admired his foresight. He had a big influence on me, beyond my “running life”. You guys are blessed to have had him as your father. He will be sorely missed. Take care.

  24. Hilda /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:43am

    It’s not us indulging you but us recieving the privilege of learning more about you dad and how he helped you be the person you were meant to be. You have and continue to help many, so he is a blessing to us all. Prayers continue for you, you mom and siblings, and all his friends.

  25. Stephanie /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:43am

    Oh Danielle, I am so sorry for your loss. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad.

  26. bruna /// 12.03.2018 /// 10:07am

    danielle, i’m so sorry to read of your loss. your father sounds amazing. here’s a saying i like: you are your father’s daughter. YOU prove it everyday in your work and how you live your life. be proud and grateful, because he was — of you!

  27. Daivati /// 12.03.2018 /// 10:07am

    Danielle,
    Having met Dan and Judi a few times now, I too feel the loss and sadness. They are among the loveliest people I know, the kind of friends you are happy to call yours. The first time I met your dad was during Reggae Marathon 2015, during my first trip to Jamaica to meet my husband Navin’s family and friends for the first time. He immediately made me feel welcomed and brought me into the fold. Since then, we had the pleasure of spending a few days in Vancouver with your folks, and I got to host Dan here in my home too during a trip to Eugene! It was always nice to talk with someone so intelligent and yet very humble, generous and witty, and as Navin says, a “father figure” to many. It still feels surreal to experience the Jamaica reunion without our “Chief”. I’m sending love to you and the rest of the family…

  28. Mia /// 12.03.2018 /// 10:21am

    This is such a beautiful and emotional post, it brought tears to my eyes. I’m so sorry for your loss and for your family. How nice though that you had such a nice and memorable moment before he left you. ❤️

  29. Kaylee Dalton /// 12.03.2018 /// 10:58am

    Oh this brought me to tears! Loss is never easy but so thankful you had one of the good dads! Sending lots of virtual hugs

  30. Julie Liger-Belair /// 12.03.2018 /// 11:22am

    This made me cry and cry. I lost my father last year and he was my biggest supporter too. I deeply empathize, sympathize and understand what you are going through right now. No matter how it happens, when the people we love disappear, they leave a big hole behind.

  31. Katrin /// 12.03.2018 /// 12:00pm

    I‘m so sorry. My mother died 3 years ago and I still feel the loss , and a big gap in my life. That’s not helpful in your situation, but what I want to point out is that this way, she still is a part of my life. I‘m still talking to her, telling about my hopes and small successes. And when I miss her most, I‘m visiting a seniors residence close to my home and imagine she’s living there. I even picked one of the small houses there for her, imagining she‘s there, going to church on Sundays and to a small cafe around the corner when the weather is nice. In an alternative universe, she is. Missing her is hard, and I‘m crying while I‘m writing this. But it’s better then not mourning, which would mean having forgotten her.
    And, in a way, your father is still present here: he gave you the gift to become an artist, and I can‘t tell you how much your blog inspired me, and countless other people, too. These are traces his life left in your life and ours. So he will be remembered as a loving dad and a huge inspiration. All the best for you and your family.
    Katrin

  32. Cheryl Hansen /// 12.03.2018 /// 12:05pm

    So sorry to learn this news about your Dad. Be kind and gentle with yourself. The wound will heal — but fair warning – the scar will remain. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this difficult time.

  33. Kelly /// 12.03.2018 /// 12:59pm

    I’m so sorry for your massive loss… curl up in the bubble of family and friends, sending love from Melbourne Australia xxxx

  34. Maz /// 12.03.2018 /// 2:32pm

    I’m so sorry Danielle, he sounds like an amazing person. Wishing peace for you and your family.

  35. Jess /// 12.03.2018 /// 2:33pm

    Oh- I’m crushed just thinking about this. I’m so, so sorry, Danielle. My dad is the same age and I dread losing him. I’m thinking of you and your family at such a difficult time. <3

  36. Lee /// 12.03.2018 /// 3:33pm

    My thoughts, friendship and condolence too you and your family, there will be many who have lost loved ones and share the understanding of your loss.we each deal with it in our own way. Draw your family close, take your time x

  37. Zoe Carter /// 12.03.2018 /// 4:02pm

    I’m so very sorry for your loss Danielle, your Dad sounds like an incrediblly inspiring and insightful person and such a terrible shock to lose him. It might not be time right now, but in a little there is a book by an Australian journalist (one of our very best) Leigh Sales called An Ordinary Day. She wrote it in response to some sudden terrible events – including the similar shock loss of her own father, and interviewed people about their own ‘ordinary day’ that just changes everything. She is kind and terribly smart and although you might be getting too much advice right now I hoped it might help, in a while. Love to you and your family – we didn’t know your Dad but gosh he must be so proud of the daughter he helped to find her wings.

  38. Lisa /// 12.03.2018 /// 6:50pm

    Sending best wishes to you & your family during a difficult time. I had the great fortune to hear you speak at Creative Mornings in Vancouver a few years back, and ended up being seated right next to your parents as you told the story of your formative years & your creative journey. Lovely people who were taking it all in, and clearly proud of you. It was so nice to be next to them as you made everyone laugh & inspired us all to feel boldly ceative & to be ourselves. Sending best wishes.

  39. Pat McRee /// 12.03.2018 /// 7:31pm

    Danielle, I’m so sorry your dad has left this world and I will keep you and your family in my prayers….prayers for peace and comfort. I’m thankful he encouraged you to pursue what you love as I enjoy visiting your blog everyday. May the happy memories pop up constantly for the rest of your life.

  40. Sumiko Keay /// 12.03.2018 /// 8:55pm

    I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing human being.

  41. Tafui /// 12.03.2018 /// 9:48pm

    I couldn’t stop crying because I know exactly how you feel and I am so sorry! Only time can heal this pain. You’re in my thoughts.
    T

  42. Sabine aus WO(rms) /// 12.04.2018 /// 1:40am

    What a mess – loosing your “great” dad is hard. I think he didn´t suffer and was doing what he loved to do – maybe these facts help a little bit.
    I wish you get all you need to go through this hard time. With all my heart – Sabine from WO(rms) in Germany

  43. Isa /// 12.04.2018 /// 3:53am

    I’m so sorry for your loss, he was taken too soon. It sounds like he had an utterly amazing life though. What an inspiration. We need more people like him in the world. Kind wishes

  44. angela mascolino /// 12.04.2018 /// 5:56am

    What a beautiful tribute for your dear father! Sending condolences to you and your loved ones. May you and your family receive all the love and support you need in the days and months ahead.

  45. Deb Thomas /// 12.04.2018 /// 6:39am

    Danielle, this is a beautiful piece. I am so very sorry for your loss. It was Dan who brought us all together. I keep rereading his messages from our group chats and wishing he could chime in one last time. Your family are in our thoughts and prayers. Dan, you are forever in our hearts. RIP.

  46. Elig /// 12.04.2018 /// 1:56pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Danielle. I’m sure your dad continues to be proud of the way you inspire people like me to pursue their art and the impact you have on many lives. Sending you my deepest condolences from San Francisco.

  47. Angela Brill /// 12.04.2018 /// 6:03pm

    Your writing is inspiring – as is your lovely tribute to your father. Peace be with you as you traverse grieving and healing.

  48. Nicole /// 12.04.2018 /// 7:07pm

    All the love in the world to you through this tough time. Your poor sweet mama ~ Love to you all

  49. Hazel Terry /// 12.04.2018 /// 10:12pm

    Hello Danielle
    I have read your blog for years as you know. This post was a big piece of you. Thank you for writing so wonderfully about such a personal love and loss. Take time to heal my thoughts are with you. Love Hazel

  50. Shauna Reid /// 12.05.2018 /// 8:13am

    Sorry to hear of your sudden loss, Danielle. Never an easy thing losing a loved one. Thinking of you and your family and I am glad you are taking a break from work. We will all be here when you get back.
    Shauna

  51. the jealous curator /// 12.05.2018 /// 9:17am

    thank you so much to all of you for these lovely messages. we are having a very hard time – not only losing him so suddenly, but with the added nightmare of trying to get him home from jamaica… there is a shocking amount of red tape and offices that close at noon because the surf is good that day. it’s been the worst few days of my life, and i can’t even begin to explain how surreal every minute of every day has been. i appreciate all of you so much… the support from this beautiful art community means the world to me. xo

  52. Karol Hilker /// 12.05.2018 /// 9:41am

    I am sorry to hear your amazing dad has passed. I know this is a hard time for your family. Your podcast makes my lonely studio feel like I have creative friends with me as I work. So know you are missed but take the time you need. We will always be here when you are ready.

  53. Zuiko /// 12.05.2018 /// 4:08pm

    Danielle—I’m so sorry for your sudden loss of your dad. Please know that I and so many people near and far are holding you and your family in our hearts and minds. Sending you love and peace. —Zuiko

  54. Sally Chupick /// 12.05.2018 /// 6:21pm

    Hi Danielle,
    You dont know me, but I have often listened to your podcasts and occasionally read your blog…I’m so sorry to hear you lost your dad. It is never easy losing a parent. Take all the time you need, and when you’re ready again, do it in small gentle steps. xo

  55. Dawn Pearcey /// 12.05.2018 /// 7:25pm

    Oh Danielle, I’m so sorry to hear of your devastating loss. I send my condolences to you and your family, and I hope your dad is soon home to you all. You’ve spread so much love in our art community, and now we are all emanating it back to surround you. xo

  56. Arwen H /// 12.05.2018 /// 9:16pm

    I’m so, so sorry to hear about the loss of your Dad. This is such a shock for your family and friends. I liked reading about how your Dad framed your childhood masterpiece “Big Bird, Little Tree.”

  57. Regina Alexandra /// 12.06.2018 /// 5:30am

    Oh Danielle,
    I am so sorry, I am in tears as I read this. I feel I know you through your podcasts, and have heard you talk about your Dad many times. Sending you so many thoughts of comfort for you and your family.

  58. Kenny /// 12.06.2018 /// 6:53am

    Dear Danielle,

    I’m so sorry for your loss… It touches me a lot because there are a lot of similarities with my own dad… I know words seem vain but I send you a lot of strength and warm thoughts during this painful time. Come back whenever you feel, to breathe again. Xo

  59. Lorna Watkins /// 12.06.2018 /// 8:28am

    Mind you and your family at this time. Best wishes, Lorna

  60. Maggie S /// 12.06.2018 /// 8:52am

    Danielle, I’m so sorry you lost your Dad so suddenly. How beautifully you write about him, his impact in your life, and as an artist. Praying God will comfort, strengthen, and guide you and your family as you make preparations in bringing him home.

  61. Janisfromhp /// 12.06.2018 /// 11:46am

    I do not even know you, only having started following your Instagram account last week. And, while I found YOU to be totally inspiring, I now understand why. Great people like your dad never leave. Rememver he may run next to you unseen, but he will always be there.

  62. the jealous curator /// 12.06.2018 /// 5:12pm

    thank you

  63. Chloe Neill /// 12.06.2018 /// 6:10pm

    I’m so sorry for your loss, Danielle. Thank you so much for your sharing your Dad with us, today.

  64. Jennifer McCabe /// 12.07.2018 /// 10:31am

    So sorry for your sudden loss, Danielle. Your friends in AZ are thinking of you and yours and hoping you get through this awful red tape soon. Take your time mourning. Sending you love and peace.

  65. the jealous curator /// 12.07.2018 /// 10:35am

    thanks jennifer xo

  66. Jane /// 12.07.2018 /// 9:32pm

    Danielle, I am so sorry for your loss. Your Dad looked like an awesome bloke and left way too soon. Please take some comfort from all these messages of love that you are held within our hearts and prayers at this time. Sending you strength and love. xx

  67. Cheryl /// 12.08.2018 /// 4:25am

    The loss of a parent is so painful, and I am sorry it has come to meet you. This post about your dad has made me know and care for him too, I can feels the love in your words. My thoughts and prayers are with you and your family during this sad time. Take time and remember.

    WHAT A DAD!!

  68. Susan Lerner /// 12.08.2018 /// 9:34am

    I’m so sorry for your loss Danielle. I just lost my mom 6 months ago. She was an artist, the artist in the family. I know she was proud of me when I started to collage and even show and sell my work. I was a scientist before this! Your Dad sounds like an incredible supportive father. He will always be with you. Please take care and know that your community is thinking of you and wish you comfort. May his memory be a blessing.

  69. Barbara Gibson /// 12.08.2018 /// 9:59am

    Danielle, I don’t know you personally but I know your artworks from IG and appreciating everything what you are doing for art and artists. Today I would like to tell you that I’m so very sorry for your loss. Sending love to you and your entire family… xx

  70. Kriss Boggild /// 12.08.2018 /// 10:01am

    Danielle, I am so sorry for your loss. Condolences to you and your family.

  71. Ivy Farrand /// 12.08.2018 /// 2:42pm

    Sending you love and peace for this difficult time. I understand what it’s like to be “a runner’s daughter” and so your pain is mine. I’m grateful that you listened to your Dad, because your talent is meant to be shared with the world.