Michael Panich: January 2, 1941--February 23, 2008. Michael collapsed and left us very suddenly and quickly, in the manner he would have chosen to make his final exit. Mike was everyone's favorite "social chemist" in Clearlake, Hidden Valley and the Triple S in Calistoga. He enjoyed playing golf with his buddies and in retirement became a very artistic creator of wood crafts. His workshop was his haven where he watched the food channels while building his unique birdhouses. He loved testing the various recipes and added his special touch to many delicious meals.
Losing someone once is hard. Losing them twice is even harder. I want to remember how this happened.
My father left my mother and I when I was about two. I don't know the rest of the story except for the bits and pieces my mother shared when she was alive (she was pretty mum about it for the most part--and not happy to discuss it when I did ask). Finally, my dad and I had a reunion of sorts (certainly a plan my mom had agreed to, I'm sure). Our first meeting was when I was barely out of high school--questions were asked, answers were given. Then, our second was about twenty years ago (much later)-- however, I was still young. I have some vivid memories of that time together and some hazy ones. My life came along and so did his and we moved in our own currents through life. For the last several years, I have tried to find him--my searches usually taking place around my birthday--entering the name in Google, out with the search results. Lots of results, which way to go was always my question. So last week, it was cold and rainy outside, and I had the sense that maybe my search would finally be successful. I hoped--I was persistent. Well. . .be careful what you wish for.
Long and short of this moment is, after about an hour, I found a link that took me to a list on legacy.com--an archival site of obituaries. I thought it had to be coincidence, same name, right age, right geography, but honestly hoped I was wrong. My gut told me otherwise. When I saw his picture, that was it. I had found him.
I emailed everyone on his memorial page that had left a comment. I received a reply telling me the name of his best friend and a phone number, with condolences. I called this gentleman. He answered, I began to stutter. It had, after all, been over a year now since my father's passing. I don't even remember half of the conversation. He listened, I talked, then I talked and he listened. It was all surreal. Then he said he'd let my father's partner, his girlfriend, know about this call. I received a lovely email from her that night. It broke my heart all over again. This has all been so hard.
I will get back to cooking and posting eventually. Grief stays a while, and it does strange things to you, like the appetite (gone), like getting mad, like being sad, depressed and walking around like you're in shock, like running away. All of the above and more. Thank god for my husband and my friends and my running.
I want anyone out there who has lost touch with someone in their life to never give up--especially daughters. Every little girl--grown up or not--needs her father.