Dear Signa,

Today you turn one decade old.  I think back to my tenth birthday and think of my family.  When I was ten we lived in Platina in the middle of nowhere and so my birthday was with just a few friends and my family.  Just as your tenth birthday will feature just your family and dinner at Hana Japan(a).

I hope when you are 45 years old and you remember your tenth birthday that you remember me and Daddy and Will and how much we love you.  You are a wonderful little girl with beauty andbrains.  You never cease to amaze everyone around you with how much you smile and how much you love. 

I was a Daddy’s girl when I was little (even big!) and you are the same exact way.  You are just like Daddy and you two do everything together.  You would think that I would get jealous, but I don’t even a little as I love your Daddy even more than you do and so I totally understand.  Plus, it is  a really beautiful thing to watch and remember being that same way with my dad.

You are doing so well with your school work and are really working hard at everything you do: karate, swimming, guitar, art.  I love watching how much you love each of your classes and projects.  4-H starts this week and you are the Sergeant at Arms this year.  I can’t wait to hear you yell at everyone to shush!

I don’t know what age ten will bring for you, Bunches of Oats, but whatever it is, I will do everything I can to make sure it is a wonderful year for you.  Everything except move your brother out of the state.

I love you.

There is an unofficial contest about who the term “Daddy’s Girl” was invented for.  It’s a very close race between my daughter and her daddy and me and mine.  I always followed and emulated and admired my dad more than any words in any story will ever relay.  He taught me to love the thrill of learning, the wonder of a library, and the love of lists and piles.  He taught me that it is better to know a little bit about a lot than a lot about a little bit.  He taught me what it’s like to be special in someone’s eyes and the true meaning of unconditional love.  He amazed me and the funny thing is that I know he was equally amazed by me.

Sometimes to tell a story, you have to start at the end before you can get to the middle and beginning.  The story of my dad is one such story.  In addition to having post-polio syndrome affecting his walking, and nerve damage affecting his hand movement, Dad’s been on kidney dialysis for over seven years.  When he developed another heart issue just a couple of weeks ago, he decided that he was done with all the medical intervention.  He contacted hospice and learned how it would likely go.  He was at complete peace with his decision and gathered everyone around his heart for his last days.  He looked and felt great, right up until leaving us quickly a mere week later.  He let that wonderful heart of his spare him and us the sadness of watching him sleep a slow sleep on his way to the Otherside.

Our final phone conversation just hours before his passing will be my treasure for always.  He asked me when I was coming back and I said that I’d be there on Saturday.  I planned to stay through to the end, so I told him he’d be stuck with me for awhile.

“Well, Shorty, I figure there is no one better to be stuck with.”   And we signed off for the last time.

I’ve no real regrets with Dad.  Of course I wish we had more time- time to ask more questions, time to show him the family history book I wrote that is at the printer as I type, time for him to hold me one more time and to be called Shorty one more time.  But he knew I loved him and I knew he loved me.  And in the end, that’s all that really matters.

Dad, the last few years, you have had a blast walking the world through Google Earth.  Here’s hoping you’re now exploring and prancing around in Google OthersideTM .  Oh, and I just decided that I win the Daddy’s Girl contest.  Sorry, Signa.  Trophy’s mine.

The next book I write will be the story of my dad, Harry the Hat.  The story of his childhood, his adventures, and maybe I’ll even tell you about snow mazes, garden planting, fire starting and phosphorescent fishing.  But for now, I’ll leave you with the end.

From the Medford Mail Tribune, Sunday, September 2, 2012, page 2B

Harry James Conner
It is with great sadness that we share the news of the loss of Harry James Conner on August 30, 2012.  Also known as ‘Harry the Hat’, Harry and his wife Molly Morris Conner have resided in Oregon since 1995.  Born April 14, 1943 in Booneville, Indiana, to Pierre William Conner and Signa Viola Felt Conner, they moved to California when he was still a baby. 

Until moving to Oregon, Harry lived and worked in the Palo Alto area of California.  He went to Cubberley High School in Palo Alto, California and then joined the Navy.  After discharge, Harry met Marilyn Badgley and she soon became his wife.  They had two children, Deborah and Todd.  They divorced in 1985 and Harry met Molly Morris, bringing yet another beautiful, wonderful woman into the Conner family. 

Harry is survived by his wife, Molly, his children, Deborah and Todd, five grandchildren, Austin Billy Conner, Signa Maxine Mascot, William Philip Mascot, Colman James Conner and Riley Thomas Conner.  He is also survived by his father, Pierre Conner, and siblings, Karen Conner, Rickey Conner, Leslie Spencer and Susan Nance, and a host of other family and friends who were important to Harry throughout his lifetime.  Memorial services are pending.