Wednesday, December 15, 2021

All I Want for Christmas

 I'm sure I could post my actual list, laundry pedestals for under the washer/dryer, a wallpapered powder room, an abolishment of brown trim and fans, a painting that reminds of the PIP (Pawleys Island Patrol aka pelicans...we always had a contest how many in a row we could see); but all I really want for Christmas is something that costs so very little. 

After Dad died one of  his sailing buddies sent me a beautiful photo of him looking out into the ocean. I had never seen this picture before and it described him perfectly. Several of my family friends husbands sent me texts about memories they had with Dad, hunting or traveling, and how much they were going to miss him. Another old New Orleans friend sent me fishing pictures from the good ole days and my own Preschool Teacher sent a note and a book. The note had all of us in tears, and I almost used it as my eulogy. One of his co-workers that I have never met wrote the most beautiful tribute on facebook, about what a mentor Robin had been for him. When we had our first meeting with Reverend John Ohmer at All Souls, he began telling us a story that on his first day at work Dad asked him to lunch and what he thought was just going to be a quick sandwich was a few hours of helpful tips, a lay of the land, and comradery. These stories were a side of Dad I never got to see.

When Mom died her friends did the same. I received a letter from one of her best friends about those first years in North Carolina when Mom didn't have many friends and how strong she was. Another messaged me pictures of BB and her dressed up for a school play. Her dear Jazzercise friends even showed up the day after Dad's funeral with champagne and hugs. 

People don't realize what a profound impact gifts like this have. You could never buy me another Christmas present again and instead send me a story or photo from the lives of my parents and I would cherish it forever.  

Grief brain is a real thing, and has wiped my memory of my favorite idioms and stories and sayings my parents shared with me. I'm struggling to remember the details of so many adventures they described to me over the years. And the most heartbreaking thing is I only have two recent voicemails of Dad's and they are from the hospital. I should have learned my lesson from Mom but we talked so frequently I didn't have enough voicemails to save.

So if you are in the giving spirit this Christmas, it would mean the world to me if you would at some point in the future send a picture, or a story, or either. There just aren't words to describe what my Mother and Father were like. They were movie stars to me; hysterical, kind, compassionate and loving leading characters in a life that I could only hope to live up to.

Isabel if you are out there this was one of the greatest gifts I have ever received:

Sunday, December 12, 2021


She's gone, she's gone!

He's gone! I'm so sorry Katharine he's gone!

These were the words spoken by my father and brother when I lost my mother and father respectively. 


We didn't know how critical his status was. I knew they were concerned and that morning I had texted Max who was in uber important work meetings; "I think you need to come home as soon as you can". I don't like to bother Max during golf or work so I felt terrible texting this, but the urgency of the updates deemed it necessary. He got on the road immediately.

That day Beau and I had multiple conference calls with my Dad's doctor and his surgeon. Was this the right choice? The hip had to come out, if it didn't the sepsis would kill him. But the surgery could kill him. Did he want extraordinary measures? Why hadn't he updated his living will since Mom died. Beau and I tried to make the best decisions we could on these conference calls but I felt like I was having an out of body experience. I mean try your hardest but don't break his ribs doing CPR? I don't know??

I got a call later in the afternoon asking if our family friend Alice could come sit with him post surgery. The woman on the phone was so kind as I explained through tears I was trying to get there. 

I just couldn't find childcare. 

What I didn't know was her phone call was to find someone to hold his hands as he had just died.

"He's GONE; I'm SO sorry, he's gone!"

My brother's voice was more emotional than I have ever heard it. He was indeed so very sorry. Of course neither of us were there. Beau had spent two weeks in Asheville and flown out that very morning; I had to come home due to Max's travel so I wasn't there either.

He's gone.

Can I come? Can I come hold his hand and say goodbye? Can he hear me tell him I love him??! I asked between sobs. A babysitter (a dear friend's own mother and a grandmother herself) had arrived and I was showing her the new lay of the land when the phone rang. I collapsed on the ground. Amelie was confused and Tobie herself perplexed what status update I had just been informed of.

I called Alice. It was too late. He was already getting cold. The last kiss on his forehead a week prior was my last goodbye. I didn't get to hold his hand. I couldn't get there in time for goodbyes. 

He was gone. Robin Boylan, "Beano" was gone. GONE. 

To so many of you this was months ago. To me this was yesterday. I have written at length about my relationship with my mother but to put my life with my father into words one would need an unknown amount of volumes.

I was a Daddy's girl. Our similarities were unmatched. He was who I talked to every single day of my life. We loved the same things, we hated the same things. Traditions were our cornerstone. We had weathered Mom's death together. 

He is gone.

I am not okay. If you knew him, if you knew him at all you understand this. If he ever entertained you in his home or at Pawleys or pretended he was entertaining in a place not his home, you know what this loss is like. It's monumental. 

Its been over two months and it is yesterday to me. It is unfathomable that he is not here. It is not registering in my mind that he won't be lighting the fire Christmas morning and playing the Carols from Clare CD and turning on all the Christmas magic.

It is heartbreaking that the world's best two parents are no longer with us. 

I am devastated. And somehow I must trudge on; as I have kids my own I need to turn on the magic for.

Gone. I still don't believe it. I miss you so much Dad.