My Dad in Paris

When my dad died seven years ago, my brother and I had to undertake the arduous task of packing up his nearly 70 year life into boxes. Some things we gave to goodwill (furniture, kitchen goods), some things we threw away, but most went into boxes and into storage, where they sat up until two weekends ago, when my brother had everything brought to the garage at his new house. There was simultaneously less and more than I remember; maybe 60 boxes and hundreds and hundreds and hundreds of paintings, canvases, framed, in stacks inside print racks. I went out this past weekend to help inventory the boxes and begin unraveling some of what we’ve kept out of sight over the last seven years, and also got to pick through and bring some things home with me. I suspect I will end up taking a LOT more as we really start unpacking (and we already have his drafting table as our dining table), but for now I took a few boxes of giant art books on Turner, Sargent, Monet, some dishes (like his espresso cup set and crème brûlée ramekins), and, most excitingly, several packs of photographs from his trip to Paris in the early 90s. He stayed in an apartment on Rue Cler with his best friend and his best friend’s wife.

When I try to explain to people what Paris means to me, it’s hard to verbalize because it just feels like an engrained piece of who I am. I’m Erin, I love Paris. Going through my dad’s things, seeing his piles of books of Paris walking tours and Parisian art history and Parisian maps and historical fictions, it became more obvious to me than ever before that this is genetic. I didn’t inherit Paris from thin air; Paris was a humongous part of my dad’s heart and soul, and it’s part of mine, too. I didn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s just how it is.

I debated over sharing these photos (some things are just a little too personal), but I couldn’t help but want to share the joy going through them brought me. There must be 300 photographs, and my dad is in precisely two. It was incredible seeing Paris through his eyes.

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And there’s my daddy, somewhere in the Tuileries, pretending to hold up the Obélisque in the Place de la Concorde in the background. That was his uniform, right down to his beloved Teva sandals. If it were chilly he would wear socks with them. Chillier still, long pants, maybe a sweater. He’s right there, frozen in time in my favorite city in the entire world, just as goofy and fun as he always was. It’s the perfect photograph of him. My heart burst when I first flipped to it. Hi, daddy. You know I’m going to replicate this photo the next time I’m in Paris, right? Mais oui.

Have a wonderful weekend, kiddos. Hug your papas tight.

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September 6, 2013 / art / photo / Travel / LEAVE A COMMENT / 20

20 comments

  • Beautiful, Erin. So moving. Really, really lovely and I’m so glad you decided to share them. Keep them out where you can see them often. XO

  • yes! oh my gosh. it’s perfect. what a treasure you found! the pictures look like they could be post cards. and that is the most perfect picture of your dad. i love it.

  • So moving……..so sad, such good memories. Transitioning from tears to a smile. He was so happy despite the 102 degree temperature and the fact that the Pope was in town causing huge crowds blocking their path.

  • Oh my! I was sobbing by the end of this post. You and I share two life-transforming events: 1. I have been fundamentally changed by my time in Paris. It is as much a part of me as my brown hair and blue eyes. 2. I lost my dad when I was in my twenties. I too, have treasured mementos in my home that, although unnoticeable to others, remind me everyday that he is still here in my heart. How lucky you are to be able to see your beloved daddy in your beloved city! Thank you for sharing with us!

  • Ah what a sweet, heartfelt post. Must have been so hard going through all your dad’s stuff and so difficult to know what to keep and what not to. The photos are great xx

  • Amazing! The first thing I saw in the picture, after realizing it was of him, were the sandals, of course. Beautiful memories of a beautiful person

  • Just lovely.

    You should scan them all in and make a super gert lush coffee table book, so you can flip through them anytime and not worry about the originals getting dog-eared and rumply. I know a graphic designer who can help with that sort of thing. THROAT CLEAR. Though I’m sure you’re more than capable, of course.

  • I’m glad you shared these. I only lived in Paris for 18 months. and for most of that time I thought I hated it as much as I loved it. but whatever it was, Paris has become part of me, and I will always miss it. no other city I’ve lived in had the same effect xxx

  • Seeing a picture of your dad was the best bday present I could ask for. Love the sandals! And yes, he would absolutely wear socks with them when it was chilly.
    Love you!

  • I never knew the meaning behind your love for Paris, but now it all makes so much sense. Thank you for sharing this touching post!

  • oh my twinsy my heart just feels so swollen in my chest right now and i am sure i could just cry into my hands thinking about what all this means to you. i am so happy you have these photos. i cannot imagine how wonderful it is for you to have photos of paris that your father has taken. of course you love paris. you loved him. he loved paris. he loved you. it’s beautiful. and now i am going to go cry for a little bit. ps i love that table!! xoxo

    • pps i like the new header and i liked the last new one too, which i also noticed. but i really like this one extra. xo

  • well ya only went and made me cry chica! i’m gonna hug my dad tight in my dreams tonight! ;)

  • Awww this brought a tear to my eye! Love it!!!

  • There was a lot of heart swelling when I read this post. I love that you two share Paris and it means those things to you. And the last photo… I have a picture of my dad in his early 20s in Austin posing by the tower and replicated it when I was in college. It’s one of our faves

  • Oh Erin, I am a little teary eyed right now. It’s so wonderful that you share something so special with your dad. I think it’s a beautiful idea to replicate the last photo on your next trip.

  • My heart filled reading this post Erin. What a wonderful gift he gave you…memories that weren’t only his, but are yours now as well. Hugs to YOU! xo

  • This is so heart warming. He had a great eye for photography! I see exactly where you got your talents! <3

  • My goodness, what an amazing post to come back to! As you well know, one of the first things that drew me into your blog was your relationship with your father (and his love for Law & Order). Thank you for sharing, Erin. Truly. xo

  • […] My dad had a collection of Le Parfait canning jars, the glass ones with tight gasket snap-closures, on a rack in his kitchen. They held things like popcorn kernels, spices, coffee, sugar, pasta. He liked that they were sleek and attractive and added a cohesive visual look to otherwise boring food storage. His favorite part, though? That the jars were all made in France and sealed for shipment, meaning that, theoretically, there was French air trapped inside. For a Francophile like him, that was magical, something to be revered. Whenever he bought a new one, he’d unsnap it and take a deep breath in. It was one of those wonderful quirks of his that fill my heart to bursting whenever I think about it. […]