Oct 10, 2007


Dad as a babyMy dad's name was Martin Modell but to most people, he was Marty. He was Grandpa Marty to his 4 grandkids (and a few of my friends) and Dad to my siblings and I.

He was the only relative I had in Virginia and, as such, he celebrated most holidays, birthdays and other events at my house. He was at our house so often that he was like a fixture. He'd come over, let himself in, find our snack stash and make himself comfortable. Often that entailed falling asleep in one of our living room chairs.

DadMy dad was a member of Mensa and he loved anything that would stretch his brain but especially crossword puzzles. I think that's why he loved computers. They represented a challenge to him that was never ending and fascinating.

It wasn't just computers that interested him. My dad found all of the goings on around him to be very interesting. He would come to my house full of stories about the latest crisis in his HOA management (he was it's president for 8 years) or the new road that just opened. It was all very interesting to him and he often engaged my friends in lengthy, deep, conversations about it all when he was at my house. My friends laughingly referred to it as their Grandpa Marty time but they enjoyed it and him. It was all good as long as we stayed away from politics. He and I were at odds there. It was just one of the many things that he teased me about.

My dad had his quirks and one of them was an affinity for office supplies and gadgets of all kinds. He often bought himself the latest and greatest, only to decide within months that he didn't need it after all. This is how I got my first CD player. He sent post-its, compasses and fancy pens to my girls at sleep away camp and they thought it was cool even though they were covered in company logos. Another quirk was his habit of wearing his tube socks pulled all the way up to his knees. He was not exactly a fashion plate, in fact he was totally color blind, but he was amusing to us.

Dad & meI have often felt that there is an odd symmetry to life and the way things work out and I see it even in this, an event that leaves me heartbroken. Two years ago this month, I left a job I loved for a new position. This new position turned out to be the soul sucking job from hell and my efforts to find a way to get through it led me to knitting blogs. I read the Yarn Harlot, Zeneedle and Wendy Knits (among others) and not only did it help me get through the day, it took my knitting in directions I never imagined.

Dad and DQ - 1995Before long, I started a blog myself and my dad read it every day. He enjoyed it very much and on many levels. First, there was the knitting itself. He would often call me after reading the blog and ask me questions. "What's BFL?" "How did you do that?" "What are you going to make with that?" He was curious about things and my fiber play interested and intrigued him. Next there was the name of the blog - Knitting4Shirley. Shirley was his mother, from whom I inherited my first needles. He wasn't a sentimental guy but he told me that he liked the fact that I named the blog for her. It made him happy to see that I was carrying on a hobby she loved. He also told me many times that he liked my writing. He even said I wrote well. Coming from him this was real praise because my dad was a published author of 4 books and countless articles. Yes, they were computer related books but, they were fairly well respected and continually generated inquiries. My DH and I often referred to him as the "Wordsmith" because he loved to tinker with resumes, letters, articles and school papers. He always made them better for his efforts. When he complimented my writing it meant a lot because I remember the fights we had when he edited my thesis.

Dad & StinkerbelleMy dad was there for so many of the highs and lows of my life. He was the one we called to come and stay with the girls overnight when Bruce had his cancer surgery in January. He was also there when I did the walk through on my house and had the pleasure of being the one who brought DQ to the hospital to meet Stinkerbelle for the first time. We returned the favor too, and on more than one occasion he was our guest for an extended visit like last fall when his house flooded and needed to be rebuilt.

My dad was only 64 when he died suddenly on September 30th. We never saw it coming and I hope that he didn't either. He leaves a hole in my life that is unimaginable and I'll miss him every day.

Dad & me - Wedding, 1994


Carole Knits said...

Oh, Hillary. This is a beautiful tribute to your dad. While it may have been hard for you to write it, I'm so glad you were able to share your dad with us in this way.
I'm thinking about you and hoping you are finding comfort in your memories.

Margene said...

Thank you for sharing your fathers life with us. After spending this past weekend with my father (after several years apart) I especially feel your loss. May you find peace in your memories.

sprite said...


I'm all teary now because I know how heartbroken I'd be if I lost my dad suddenly. My thoughts go out to you and your family.

Your dad sounds like a great guy.

Carol said...

Hillary, this is a beautiful tribute to your dad. He truly is a very special man indeed.

Cursing Mama said...

What a beautiful & touching tribute to your father. I hope you are healing and finding peace.

Krista said...

That was beautiful. I'm sorry for your loss and will be keeping you in my thoughts.