Las Vegas Sun

August 18, 2019

Currently: 86° — Complete forecast

Poems bring writer’s dad into focus

Dead but not gone.

That's how Sue Hecht relates to her father, who died nine years ago.

"I had a dream reconnection with him and then a feeling in my heart he is still alive," she says. "Now it's not as though I have lost him."

The self-insight has been grist for her latest poems, which revolve around her relationship with her father.

In celebration of Father's Day, she'll read some of those poems at 2 p.m. Sunday at Border's Book Shop, Stephanie Street and Sunset Road in Henderson.

"I want to share poems ... that concentrate on Dad in all his meanings: Dad the provider, Dad the Rescuer, Dad the breadwinner, Dad the illusion, Dad the hero and just plain Dad."

In one, called "Daddy Beanpole (Pappy)," Hecht describes her journey through anger, grief and reconciliation over her father's death at 77 after a heart attack -- a reconciliation triggered by a dream in which she once again encounters him.

Before I knew what to do

there you were

running towards me

with love and protection

and an umbrella.

"When my dad died, I was devastated. I lost a huge part of myself," Hecht says. "This person had just disappeared.

"I was never close to my mom or younger brother, so it was like losing my entire family."

Writing poetry was her catharsis. And she hopes her personal expressions of despair and healing will help other people experiencing similar losses.

"I want them to feel OK to show what they're feeling like when I have seen a movie or a painting or a photo that has touched a nerve and allowed me to experience my emotions."

But her poetry isn't only about death.

"It's about joy, about love, about anger," she says.

During her father's last days in Florida, she was able to recapture some of her childhood.

"We walked and held hands around the condo where he lived, just like when I was a kid and we were buddy-buddies. We came full circle in a way.

"My dad was my hero, my knight in shining armor. I was daddy's girl."

But while coming to terms with her father's death, she "discovered things that were not so great -- things that I had pushed away."

"It's been really important for me to separate the Dad who I thought was my dad and the dad who was a person.

"I held on to such illusions about my dad and have found it incredibly painful and freeing to let them go. I have a depth and perspective that I didn't have before."

Hecht, who's now in her mid-40s, recalls her New York childhood.

"My dad was a provider. It was a traditional kind of thing. He had a business and Mom stayed home. He'd be gone from 6 in the morning and wouldn't come home until 7 or 8 at night."

I've spent hours in front of

your picture

hoping and praying for you to come home ...

I've waited patiently like a

good girl at the window ...

You had a hard day at work

but don't you know how

much I missed you, Daddy?

Childhood weekends come back as fond memories.

"We spent time together. In the summertime, we took driving trips to Chicago, New Hampshire, Vermont, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin."

He was well-liked. That, too, she remembers well.

"Wherever he would go, he would run into people he would know. My husband is exactly like that.

"They say a man marries his mother and a woman marries her dad. We draw to what is familiar and comfortable. It's not always conscious."

Last year, Hecht, who is a free-lance writer, published her first book of poems called "Womantide" ($8.50). Next year, she plans to publish a compilation of her latest works about her father.

"It's going to the depth and core of who I am.

"It's getting beyond the mythology, myths and mystique of being a woman and our real relationship with the No. 1 man in our lives."