There was Only One Mike Powell


This Memorial Day is especially hard for me. My Dad passed away on May 13th after battling Lymphoma. He was a career Navy man, twenty-two years in the Navy (USS Iowa and the USS America), then worked twenty-two years Civil Service. The walls of his office at home were decorated with plaques and certificates of commendation. He was so proud of his country.

I wore his Navy ring on a chain around my neck today in his honor and below is the piece I put together for the minister to read at his funeral. On this day of remembrance, I have a new and much better understanding of the sacrifice and service of our veterans.  I will miss you Daddy.


I remember his visits when I was a little girl. He came fresh off the ocean, tall, handsome, and bearing gifts:  a set of dolls with costumes and matching hats, a tiny leather purse with a “Paris” label,  a royal blue tapestry decorated with solid white kittens, and the best present of all, his time.   

I knelt on the couch, holding the sheers back, my faced pressed to the glass, waiting.  He drove a shiny blue car. I got to ride up front with him. He pulled to the curb, looked up into the mirror, ran his hand through his wavy hair and put on his sunglasses. 

 I jumped down from the couch and ran outside to meet him, a whirlwind of arms, legs, ruffles and ribbons.  He picked me up and swung me around, laughing and calling me doll baby.  Mama handed him my overnight bag.  I never looked back.

 My Daddy and I had fun. We went to the Gypsy Hill Park, rode the little train through the tunnel. He folded up his long legs so he could sit beside me, his strong arm wrapped around my shoulder, his sunglasses on my nose. He smelled like spice and his face was a little scratchy. We laughed and ate ice cream and drove fast with the top of the car folded down behind the back seat.  My hair blew into my eyes, and it didn’t matter.

 “I bet Grandma fixed a good dinner for us. We’d better head over there before we’re late and get in trouble,” he said, laughing.

 Those two days with him went as fast as the previous six months went slow. On my way back home in the car, I couldn’t talk. I was too busy holding back tears.  “No tears,” my Daddy said, “we’ve had too much fun to cry.”

 He carried me to the apartment door, my fingers holding tight to the back of his shirt. As he left, my sound was a wail; my grief, determined.  Daddy had gone back to sea and my Mama knelt down before me.  “I found something special for you while you were gone,” she said with her hands behind her back.

 I looked up, tears running off my chin.  I couldn’t talk.  She smiled at me and presented me with a small, orange-striped kitten.  I reached out and took the ball of soft fur. I held him in my arms as I cried, my tears making wet spots on him.  He was nice, but he wasn’t my Daddy.

 I realized early on that nothing  or no one could take the place of my Daddy.  There was only one Mike Powell.



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18 Responses to “There was Only One Mike Powell”

  1. stephanie Says:

    What a great story margaret! HAng tight to all of ur memories and know he is watching down on u and is proud of the woman u have become! I love ya!

  2. Southern Sea Muse Says:

    Absolutely moving…thank you very much for this touching memoir. God bless your family.

  3. allthingsboys Says:

    I’m so sorry about your dad. It’s just hard. I wish I hard words of wisdom, but having just done this myself, the only thing I know for sure is, there isn’t really anything anyone can say. Prayers and hugs to you!

  4. Rebecca Bakhaus-Zdepski Says:

    We loved Uncle Mike too…of course it was different. He was your Dad. Good man! Thank you for sharing.

  5. Nikitaland Says:

    What a sweet post, thank you so much for sharing it! I lost my Dad a few years ago to brain cancer, and I think of him every day. You are in our thoughts….

  6. Rebecca Bakhaus-Zdepski Says:


  7. Jim Cantwell Says:

    I’m so very sorry that your Father passed away, I know how painful it is all too well. I lost my Mother 15 years ago and my brother passed 4/30/12
    Please know your in my thoughts and prayers

    • train-whistle Says:

      Thank you Jim. I’ve been thinking of you too, with the loss of your brother. Hard times these are. Daddy always said, “Life is for the living.” I believe him. So lets live each day and squeeze every bit of the joy into our glass. –tw

  8. Jim Cantwell Says:

    count on it 🙂

  9. Doris Gelbman Says:

    oh margaret. seems so painful — reading it made both my chest and my tears swell. but how beautiful to be able to have that memory and to be able to share it in such a way that we get to feel it right along with you. Do know that so many of us are walking along right by your side and you are never alone. This is the stuff of life.

    • train-whistle Says:

      Thank you Doris. Don’t know what I would have done had it not been for you and your support. You are a godsend and a wonderful friend. I’m blessed indeed. xxxooo

  10. Curly Says:

    There was only one Mike Powell. And he will always be with you. You will come to see that more and more as time passes. I promise you. My father is always with me and it’s a comfort.

    • train-whistle Says:

      Thank you Curly. It’s been a rough month and so busy with the emotional stuff on top of the estate stuff. We’re slogging though it. Your thoughts mean more to me than you know. –tw

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