Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Flaws and all

by: Joelle Charbonneau

Last Friday was the three year anniversary of my father’s passing. That day and the events that followed feel as though they happened a decade or more ago. And yet, it feels like only yesterday that I talked to him.

I miss our talks. We didn’t talk about anything particularly deep or earth

shattering. He was my first phone call if I had a problem with a
faucet, a window screen or a water heater. He might not know how to fix it himself, but he always had a guy who did know.

Dad and I also talked about sports. Baseball, basketball, football, golf. Dad loved them all. Every March we filled out our NCAA brackets and compared notes of the various teams in the tournament. During the opening days of the field of 64, Dad and I would call each other to report upsets or exciting moments. I haven’t filled out a bracket sheet since he died.

My father was always proud of me no matter what I did. He wasn’t always the biggest fan of theater, but he came to all of my shows. While I’ll never know if he would have read my books (the first one went under contract 9 months after he died), I am certain he would have told anyone and everyone that they were the best books ever. As far as cheerleaders go, Dad was one of the best.

Of course, like anyone, Dad had his less than perfect moments. I’ve heard people say that the longer someone is gone, the more the survivors tend to remember only the good things about that person. The other stuff fades. I guess I’m not most people because the longer my father is gone, the more I want to remember the stuff that used to annoy me. Without that stuff, Dad wouldn’t have been Dad.

Dad wasn’t always the easiest to get along with. (Not that I am, but that is another story for another day.) He was stubborn. When he got mad he never told you why he was upset. Instead, he stopped talking all together. And he always had a list of things that needed to get done no matter what plans anyone else in the house might have. We used to get so frustrated when my father nixed doing something fun on the weekend because he had to paint the gutters, wax the car, mow the lawn or any number of other things that could have technically waited until tomorrow. For my father, tomorrow was never soon enough.

Like the best characters in our books, my father had flaws. Without those flaws our family might have spent more time going to the movies or on vacation, but those flaws made him who he was. At time those flaws made me want to tear out my hair, but now, thinking about them makes me smile. When I write, I try to remember that it is the flaws that often make a character relatable and endearing. The things that irritate the other characters around them are the things that make the reader laugh or nod their head in understanding. How many times have you found yourself reading something and think, “Yeah, my mom does that.” or “That sounds just like my Aunt Edna.” No one is perfect. Not in real life or on the page. If they were – well that would just be boring.

So in honor of my dad, I thought today would be a great day to remember both the wonderful things and the flaws about the people we miss the most. Let’s share the moments that made them the people that we loved. Together we will all smile and more important we will all remember.


  1. This is a beautiful tribute and memory of your father and you are so right, it's the flaws that's memorable and relatable.

  2. I was reviewing all of my parenting flaws while I was eating my breakfast this morning, so this post couldn't be better timed! What a lovely tribute to your father, Joelle. After they're gone, we do tend to gloss over those things that make up the whole person, but remembering all of their individual peccadilloes does them more justice, if that makes sense. Great post. Maggie

  3. Joelle, what a lovely post. It's been many years since my Dad died and I miss him on a daily basis. He was my best cheerleader. But you're right, we're all complicated and complex individuals and the flaws, as well as the strengths, make us who we are.


  4. Great post Joelle and so very true! Love the pics as well. xx

  5. It is just over a year that my father died and this was a good post for me to read today. I think we need to acknowledge how much we miss our fathers, and I agree about remembering the flaws, too. If we put them on a pedestal, they are no longer real.

  6. A great tribute to your father. He sounds like he was a great guy. The silent treatment and the work first attitude seem a generational thing, as I know plenty like that.

  7. Maryann - lots of hugs coming your way. Letting our Dad's go is a hard thing to do. Good thing our memories mean that we don't have to ever forget how much we loved them and how much they loved us.

    Fiona - Thanks! The photos aren't my best looks, but they are great shots of my dad:)

  8. Joelle, what great photos!!! And I guess I'm not normal either, because I remember the people I loved the most, now gone, complete with warts. Nobody's perfect, and it's definitely all the quirks and frustrating moments as well as the beautiful stuff that make us human. I'm sure your dad is looking down and grinning with pride at his amazing daughter. And he's probably thinking, too, "Why is she going to the movies when she should be waxing her car?" ;-)

  9. Susan - Ha! He would totally be thinking that.

    Maggie - Parenting flaws? Never! I can only hope to have your kind of parenting flaws.

  10. Joelle,

    Wow. It's being able to step back and have that ability to see it all that makes a person a good writer. And a neat person.

    Thanks for sharing!

  11. Joelle,

    What a wonderful post! A great tribute to your dad, and a timely reminder for us all.

  12. What a lovely post about your Dad. I have tears in my eyes and I'm laughing all at the same time. I had the driveway seal-coated today and I know he's happy about that (and wondering why it took me so long)....but I also know he's not pleased that I'm parking on the grass. Gotta love the memories! Love you kid!

  13. What a great tribute. Dads are great and yes, the memories make them even better.

    Loved reading about your dad and what you remember about him.


  14. Great piece, and so much better than re-writing him or painting him as a saint. Love, Linda

  15. Joelle, you had me bobbing my head as well. Not only relating to my personal life but your Dad's as well. As your Mom said, it too made me laugh and cry. I miss your Dad too. My neighbor, friend and Sargent Charbie! God bless. Xoxxox Kari Eilrich P.S. I love the pictures!