A Tale of Two Dads

Daddy in India 1941.1

My dad, center, in India, 1941

Mike Francini

Mike Francini, awesome dad

I celebrate my dad whenever I garden, so in my world, most days are Father’s Day. My love of gardening is a gift from him.

My dad was a horticulturist by trade, loving all things gardening.  He worked all week at a local nursery, then spent his weekends gardening at home. My sister and I took turns on the one-way wheelbarrow rides, while he hauled rocks to our London, Ontario back yard. He built a meandering brook through the center of the garden, then added flowers and trees. I savored my first cherry tomato from my dad’s summer garden. I remember walking through the kitchen door with a handful of tomatoes and giving them to my mom for our lunch. To this day, they remain a garden favorite. Dad died when I was just a girl of 9. How I missed him!

18 years ago I married a wonderful man.  He’s father to our own two boys. Today we celebrate him as well.  Not a gardener himself, he does everything in his power to make my garden look carefree.  He installs and regularly repairs the irrigation to keep things watered evenly. This summer he built a new raised bed so I could add more flowers to the garden mix. He stains the deck, repairs the fences and helps research garden pests. We’re a good team.

Most of all, he nurtures our two boys, helping see to their ‘care and feeding’ as well.

A father lost and a father found.  Happy father’s day to the men who stand up, show up and make the world a better place.  Hallmark sentiments aside, this day is in honor of you.

23 thoughts on “A Tale of Two Dads

  1. You’ve said everything so eloquently Alys, a beautiful tribute from a beautiful daughter, wife, woman. I loved reading your memory about the tomatoes. Thank goodness for these little gems that shine thru the years and bring joyful moments to mind. I can almost see you, tomatoes in hand, full of freckles. It’s very sweet. That’s a really great picture of your Mike. ‘A father lost, a father found’, very touching. We thought is was quite adorable too. Enjoy the day! xoK


    • Awww, thank you for that. I remember my dad so well, even all these years later. Like me, he was often behind the camera, so I don’t have any photos of the two of us together. I love the one of you and your dad on your wedding day. Precious, precious memories.

      Thank you for always reading and for sharing this with others. You are always my champion. I appreciate that and I appreciate you.


  2. You grew up where I live!!! So very sad that you lost your father at such a young age. I see the connection between my daughter and her dad and it must have been very traumatic for you. HUGS.


  3. Such a lovely tribute! So sorry you lost your father so early in your life, but how wonderful that you have such tangible memories. And your husband sounds like a wonderful guy … to you and to your boys!


    • LB, thanks so much for that. It was a terrible loss and a vulnerable time in my life. I’m grateful for the memories I have and for the remarkable man he was.

      My husband is a wonderful man. How did I get so lucky?


  4. I love this post and the picture of your Dad in India. We never had a garden in Brooklyn but I can imagine you coming through the door with those tomatoes-so sweet! My Mom’s father died when she was nine and she talked about him and that defining part of her life all the time. Brooklyn and I were just talking last night about how she finally gets to spend time getting to know him know that they are together -she brought tears to my eyes. And thinking of little you without your Dad brings them as well. XOXO


    • Ah, Betsy. Thanks for those kind words and for your obvious understanding. I’m sorry for your mom as well.

      Your little Brooklyn is a wise young soul. How sweet for her to think that way.

      xox Alys


  5. Alys, what a beautiful tribute to both dads. You are such an eloquent writer. That’s so neat that your dad was a horticulturist! No wonder you’re so good at gardening! How did you get so lucky to find Mike, you ask? It was more than luck. You saw what a great person he was and fell in love with him, I imagine….and him with you :-)).

    I’m sorry about your dad’s early death. Life sure is crappy sometimes. But you sure do appreciate the good things, and that’s a gift.


    • Susan, thanks so much for taking the time to comment here. It means so much to me.

      Thanks, too, for that lovely compliment.

      Yes, my gardening successes come straight from the lessons learned at my dad’s knee. I wish I could share it with him.

      Thanks for your sentiments regarding my dad as well. Losing him at such a young age was difficult indeed. Life is precious. I learned that far too young, but the life lessons have seen me through.


  6. Enjoyed the encore (( Alys )). Girls may never know how much they’ll miss their dad’s when he’s gone, busy with life and other things. Funny, I always knew. I dreaded the inevitable and was always mindfull of making time together. Maybe because I didn’t have that connection with my mom? But more probably because I just really enjoyed dad’s company. so fathers days will always be hard. Even if I try to focus on being thankful and grateful first, the selfishness sneaks in. I’ve said it before, but I’m so sorry you were robbed of that time with your dad, it was so unfair. Some practical person might then say, “but when is life fair?” I don’t think of love being a practical thing at all. Unless you’re a robot, it’s unavoidable, but hardly practical. xo K


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