Missing “Doc” Petry


When someone passes away you don’t know exactly what you are going to miss about them. You can speculate, but until they are actually gone you can’t really know.

I wanted to write about my dad since Father’s Day just passed and his birthday is this coming Sunday, but I’m finding it  more painful than I expected. He has been gone over a year and a half now. I would think it would be easier at this point, but it’s harder. Standing by his casket was easier than standing by his bedside the few days beforehand. His pain was real and intense then, and I only wanted to rescue him from it. Now, like the pains of childbirth, that pain is but a memory. Yet instead of having a beautiful child to show for the effort, there is just an emptiness that remains. People say that a person’s death is heaven’s gain, however that doesn’t change the fact that that person’s absence is earth’s intense loss.

Dad was incredibly positive. He had a way of making you feel like everything would turn out okay even in the bleakest moments. There are times I could still use a good dose of that outlook.

I miss how he brought beauty to the things around him. His magic touch is now absent from the yard at my childhood home. How he ever managed to keep the grass so green and perfect, or the flower beds full of abundant blooms I will never know.

My dad was one of my biggest encouragers to pursue my dreams. I am getting ready to start a new chapter in my life now that both of my sons will be in school, and I know he would have eagerly cheered me on in my new pursuits. I miss the way I would walk in to the room and he would clap and tell me way to go when I accomplished something exciting.

Mom and I both miss his wisdom. Not long ago she commented that she wished he was here because he would know what to do about a particular situation. It’s true. He  would  have known. Dad had a great way of thinking through things logically and helping you make a good choice.

I miss his sense of humor, which is probably funny for those of you who knew him, because my dad had such a dry sense of humor. He found amusement at the dumbest things. My husband just commented the other day that he wished we could remember more of the silly things he used to share. His favorite story was about a neighbor of his that was fed up with a neighbor kid that kept messing around at his house. He told the boy he was going to take a screwdriver, unscrew his belly button, and make his legs fall off. My dad must have repeated that story is some shape or form hundreds of times. He took great glee in sharing it over and over. Some things just make you shake your head!

The smell of athletic tape or a sweaty gym reminds me of my dad. The annual Christmas coffee cake would remind me of my dad, but I can’t stand to make it again just yet. I made cinnamon rolls instead last Christmas. Fresh mown grass, roses, stopping to pick up litter on the sidewalk, and on the list goes. When my Austin is mischievous, I think of him. I never got away with much as a kid, but Dad took great satisfaction in how ornery Austin can be.

I learned something new about him after he was gone. He was dreadfully disorganized, or at least his idea of organization was completely askew. He had file folders for everything in his home office, but there didn’t appear to be rhyme or reason to his filing system. It has taken my poor mom until just recently to go through everything to make sense of it. For someone so meticulous in every other way this tidbit came as quite a bit of a shock. This from the man that drew circles on the floor of his classroom so his students would keep their desks in the right place!

Thank goodness for the ability to have memories. I am grateful for the time I was given with such a wonderful dad and just an all around good man.

I would love to hear a memory about him if you knew him, or any memory you have of a loved one you have lost. As Lois Lowry said in her book The Giver, “The worst part of holding the memories is not the pain. It’s the loneliness of it. Memories need to be shared.”

7 thoughts on “Missing “Doc” Petry

  1. Oh, Amy! I have such wonderful memories of your family. I loved helping your mom at your h.s. graduation a couple of years ago! 🙂 One memory of your dad was in a Bible Study. It was Blackerby’s “Experiencing God”. I commented that it was so wonderful, realizing, the love of God, His mercy, His grace…. And then came the chapter, “Obey!” And that was kind of hard to hear. And Tom nodded that he had felt the same thing. I thought, ‘Tom Petry felt that way too?!’. He was a wonderful man!

  2. Amy, this is a beautiful testimony to your dad. And I love that you are still learning things about him. I see so much of him in you – and so much of what he had to give in all the people he touched. I know I will forever be changed by knowing your dad. Praying that these times of sadness pass and are replaced with beautiful memories! I love you!

  3. Beautifully written! I had completely forgotten about the circles on the floor and I should have remembered that since I had to take his class TWICE! I remember staying after school and coming to your house just so he could tutor me!

    • I wish I could have experienced having him in class. So many stories I hear makes me think he had a different personality in front of a classroom. We miss him a lot. By the way, Rebecca’s mom just passed away Tuesday. I know she had cancer, too. Thanks for reading!

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