I write this on the 14th anniversary of my father’s passing. He left this world having imprinted his generous and loving spirit onto so many. Since he had provided me with his gift of love and never ending encouragement, I find myself writing this as a gift to commemorate his memory, and the special bond between fathers and daughters.
Gabriel Kamohalii Brenton Marciel was my dad. He was born July 10, 1941 and died on March 11, 1999 from a glioblastoma brain tumor. He was the force behind who I am today. When I was afraid of embarking on something new, he was there. When I suffered grief, he was there. Despite a difficult upbringing, he rose to the task of father and provider for the family. It was not without a hard hand or bellowing voice–he was after all a product of his environment.Throughout his early life, nothing came easy to him–but there was love.
An older brother, Nathaniel, along with his wife, Edith, raised my dad after his adopted mother died. He was taken from a home he knew in Hawaii to the unfamiliar mainland. At the age of 18 he began his career in the Air Force. Years later my father retired as an Air Force Master Sergeant at Lowry AFB in Colorado. From there he was a Safety Manager at Buckley AFB (now known as Buckley Air National Guard Base). Through his work, my dad would come across military personnel from other countries. As he held a deep appreciation for other cultures, he would occasionally invite some of these visitors to his house for weekends. He always had a way about him to help others feel comfortable in foreign situations.
Throughout most of my life my dad had been larger than life–both in physical appearance and in personality. Despite his imposing physical stature, he had a tender side to him that would put me at ease. An unseen connection developed between us that I continue to feel to this day despite the fact he is no longer physically present. Looking back, I can only smile at the fact he seemed to understand the uncertainty I underwent during those awkward teen years. When many men tended to shy away from a sobbing 13 year old girl, my dad did not. Upon seeing me hold the furry, brown, lifeless body of my precious hamster, Sandy, he comforted me rather than scurrying out the door to work. He seemed to understand my pain allowing me to grieve despite my delay in getting ready for school.
In high school when I was up at 4:00 a.m. anxious about the results from my cheerleading tryouts, my dad came down the stairs offering an early breakfast and encouragement. Later, he was also there to drive me to and from practices and games as I donned that cheerleading uniform. He and my mom were often seen from a distance cheering me on as I performed.
Even after high school, my father seemed to be in tune with my current drama–never shying off from the hysterics. As I found myself as a young unwed mother-to-be he supported me–even if that entailed meeting my soon-to-be first husband at the door with a shotgun showing his personal brand of humor.
Through my difficult first marriage, my father never ceased to amaze me by his ongoing love and support. He continued to be my protector–once picking me up from my job during a blizzard when I was about seven months pregnant. I had not asked him to come, he just knew to show up. He also had the tendency to purchase flowers for me on Valentine’s day while conducting his regular gift purchase for my mom. My dad never wanted me to feel unappreciated.
He and my mom welcomed me in to their home each time I attempted to separate from my husband. My father never rubbed in my ignorance or mistakes. Instead, he and my mom always provided my son and I with a safe haven to go to. He became an intrical part of my son’s life. They also shared a profound bond. Along with my mother, he would take my son on a variety of camping and fishing trips always excited about sharing their time with him. My son belonged to them just as he belonged to me.
It has taken me many years to move beyond feeling cheated from my father’s death–that he missed so much. I was happy he was able to meet and love my soulmate before he passed. I can recall the look on his face when he first saw my engagement ring. I can only describe it as an expression of relieved joy. He passed away two days before my wedding. However, as difficult as it is to explain, I felt him with me that day. I also felt him with me for my graduation from college and graduate school, but I would be lying if I denied feeling sad at the time, despite my accomplishments. My mom made the effort to act as a proxy for my dad to make the celebrations more enjoyable as we tried to ignore the emptiness that we felt; however, he was always embedded in our conversations–still the life of the party.
Although my dad had so much life to live beyond his 57 years in this realm, I know he lived his life with enthusiasm and love for those around him. He maintained a zest for life, affection for family, and guide to all that came across his path.
I consider my dad my personal angel. Although he will be missed every single day, I believe that he will remain watching over my family and I until we meet again.