Cheers to you, Dad


Celebrating Father’s Day for the first time without you… 

Read on March 26, 2016
@ Rich Griffith’s Celebration of Life

In the final weeks of my father’s life, we asked him, “How would you like people to celebrate you once you are gone?”

“No party,” he grumbled. “No party.”

Let me tell you something about my dad: He never missed a party. He never missed a celebration for someone he cared about. He never missed a funeral for someone significant in his life that had passed. This is the guy who attended every high school and neighborhood reunion possible, and he lived 3,000 miles away from where they were held.

There was something beautiful and conflicting about my father. While he was prickly on the outside, he was soft and vulnerable on the inside. He was gruff, grumpy, and downright curmudgeonly at times. If you sat next to him and listened to the conversations he had with his friends and family, you might wonder if he liked them at all.

Then he would call you to just check in. “Haven’t heard from you. How is this? How is that?” He did not forget a problem another person was having until it was resolved. He was in tune with everyone he knew. He was acutely aware of how the people in his life were doing.

He had developed an exterior — an armor of sorts — to protect what lay beneath. Because what was under the layers of his tough persona was someone who felt. Someone who perhaps felt too much at times. It was part of his beauty; it was part of his curse.

So here you had someone who was constantly complaining about the world but thoroughly enjoyed being in it. He loved parties. He loved people. He loved to work. He loved to play.
He was a complicated man with a purpose in all areas of his life. He moved through his days with precision. It made him a wonderful engineer. A terrific builder of things. An unforgettable friend. A consistent father. The steward of his family.

He was the glue in our family.

He was the glue.

When I was a little girl, he was my hero. A force. When I was in first grade and filling out an assignment asking what I wanted to be when I grew up, I wrote, “I want to work at TOTE as my dad’s secretary.” When I was young and people asked me what he did for a living, I responded, “He is a working golf ball.” Whatever my small understanding of his work life was, I just knew I wanted to be with him. I wanted more of him.

He was the dad who rescued me from drowning in a friend’s pool by pulling me out by my pigtails. We joked that he rescued me when I fell out of bed one time, too. He worked during the week and when he was home he was building decks that wrapped around our house. As a little girl observing the first man in my life, I saw someone strong, somewhat elusive but always consistent.

I will admit we didn’t have many good times together in my teenage years and young adulthood. We both had some growing up to do. Mine was a growing up, my father’s was more of a growing out. He had been working tirelessly since he was a teenager. After years of working, years of providing, he wanted to taste a new type of freedom. I guess you can say we both had our crosses to bear during that time.

In the final weeks of his life, my sisters and I sat with him at his kitchen table. We listened to him as he faced the end of his life. He had so much he wanted to say. In light of his revelations, the troubles he and I had during my youth finally made sense. He bared his soul, and in doing so freed mine. I am so very grateful for that reckoning.

But that is who he was. He was never one to miss the lesson in something. Dad was about seeing the wisdom in things. Making sure all things were as they should be. Precision.

He saved the best for last. Our last years together were the best. As his hectic life wound down and he embraced retirement, I got to have more of him. More phone calls. More e-mails. More visits. Just more. He came for his three-day trips to the Bay Area. He walked around my new house and declared, “You have a lot of work to do here.” Snicker, snicker.

When I had my son, Drake, Dad flew down with my sisters four weeks later. There he was, getting out of the car, walking up my steps, sitting on the sofa, and saying, “Let me see him.” I placed my little boy in his hands. (Mind you, my dad was a man’s man with three daughters and four granddaughters. This was a big moment for him.) My father then proceeded to pull Drake’s diaper down to ensure he had a winky dink. “I waited a long time for one of these,” he said.

Dad was my consistency. My rock. My support system. The foundation upon which so much of my life has been built. He wasn’t a cuddly, Hallmark card kind of guy, but he never missed sending a birthday or holiday card.

In the final weeks of his life, my sisters and I got to witness so much more of who my father was. His river ran deeper with people than we ever imagined. He painstakingly called and e-mailed most of the people he wanted to say good-bye to. He opened up to us. He let us hold his hand.

Near the end, I asked him to share with me some words of wisdom I could share with Drake when he was older. “What do you want him to know about you, Dad?” I asked him. “What do you want him to know about what it means to be a man?

Here is what he said:

“Never stop. Never give up. With gritted teeth, never stop. If they knock you down, stand up again. Just never, ever stop, until you can’t walk anymore.

He was a force in this world. A man from a different era, one in which hard work and grit were the measures of a man. He worked hard; he played hard. He was consistent in the way he moved through life. He was his own man. Most of all, he was real.

And finally, the thing he showed us was not only how to live but how to die with grace. As death became imminent he held our hands, and with tears streaming down his cheeks he said, “This is forever.” He made sure we knew our love was forever.

That is the irony and beauty of Rich Griffith and the thing that made him so God damn special. He would grumble at me for saying these things, but there was a part of him that wanted this moment to happen.

And now it has. God bless you, Dad.

The Girls Who Went Away | Ann Fessler

Ann Fessler’s critically accompanied book, “The Girl Who Went Away,” gives voice to the millions of women forced to surrender their babies in the decades before Roe v Wade. As an artist and a teacher, listening to Ann tell her story feels like you are walking into a lecture hall about to learn something new, […]

recent posts


Elizabeth Hines

The subject of reproductive rights has taken center stage in our society. Still, many people don’t understand the tentacles those rights have in every corner of society or within most families. On this episode of About Your Mother is my conversation with writer and editor Elizabeth Hines, who spearheaded the recent anthology Aftermath: Life in Post-Roe America. Our […]


EP020 The Baby Scoop Era - Kare Wilson-Buterbaugh

In our new series, What Happened Then, AYM features stories from a part of our history unknown to many. Karen Wilson-Buterbaugh spent twenty years researching and writing The Baby Scoop Era. In 2007, Karen founded the Baby Scoop Era: Research, Education, and Inquiry (BSERI) organization to support millions of women forced to surrender their babies between 1945 and […]


Ten Stories to Celebrate Mother's Day

For Mother’s Day, we are recapping ten powerful episodes from the last year. This review features a short clip from each conversation, so you can quickly get a feel for the content and guest. Timestamps and guest names are listed below. An interesting thing happens when the word mother is mentioned – a conversation rooted […]

recent posts


Steph Jagger AYM 018

This episode of About Your Mother is my conversation with Steph Jagger: a seeker, explorer, and writer. Her latest book, Everything Left to Remember, documents her adventure with her mother into the Rocky Mountains while they navigate the terrain of dementia and the meaning of remembrance. Steph’s life and work are as deep as the 4 […]


AYM 017 Beth Broday

This episode of About Your Mother is my conversation with Beth Broday – a pioneer in producing who put music videos on the map beginning with Prince’s Little Red Corvette. Beth Broday is a storyteller and has mastered the art of Becoming. Throughout the various stages of work and life, she saw the lessons in […]


AYM-EP016-Shanti Brien

On this episode of About Your Mother, we meet Shanti Brien, who has spent her career fighting for justice. Often, taking on the most complex cases where the rate of success is meager. When her husband’s company was under investigation, her career and personal life collided.   Shanti Brien is a litigator and author. She is also […]

recent posts


My Mother Next Door podcast with Diane Danvers Simmons.

In this episode of About Your Mother, we hear the story of Diane Danvers Simmons, whose mother left and moved next door with three college men when Diane was sixteen years old. A successful businesswoman, mother, and stepmom, Diane was on a trip with her daughter when she heard she needed to forgive her mother, […]


The Miracle of Adoption is Surviving podcast with Ashley Mitchell.

To honor National Adoption Month this November, I bring you a big brave story. In this episode of About Your Mother, meet Ashley Mitchell. Ashley Mitchell is the founder of Lifetime Healing Foundation, which supports birth mothers and those affected by such trauma. Her mission is unique but needed. Give it a listen, and you […]


Writing My Secrets podcast with Amy Ferris.

In this episode of About Your Mother, meet Amy Ferris. Amy is witty, brutally honest, talented, and regal, like Meryl Streep, and she looks like her too. Ruth Pennebaker of the New York Times described Amy’s memoir, Marrying George Clooney: Confessions from a Midlife Crisis”, as “poignant, free-wheeling, cranky, and funny. It is all those […]

recent posts



In this episode of About Your Mother, I am pleased to introduce Angie Kim. Angie’s debut novel Miracle Creek was named Best Book of the Year by Time, The Washington Post, and The Today Show. It went on to win many other prizes throughout the year. Before writing Miracle Creek, Angie Kim was the former […]


A brief encounter with a woman with cancer recently reminded me to slow down and acknowledge what is before us — even if what we see is hard to accept or comprehend. It was Sunday morning and I was walking through the Berkeley Rose Garden with my husband and son. I saw a woman sitting on a […]


Changing Lives With Empathy podcast with Peter Mutabaz.

In this episode of About Your Mother, you will meet Peter Mutabazi – a remarkable human being who survived a traumatic childhood, only to use that experience to transform lives. He ran away from an abusive father at the age of ten and was homeless on the streets for four years until a stranger asked […]

recent posts


Adoption Encapsulates Everything That Is Life podcast with Jeff Forney.

In today’s episode of About Your Mother, we have a poignant discussion on the meaning of the word Mother. Joining us is Jeff Forney, a photographer, visual story sharer, and a dear friend. Prepare to be inspired by a touching dialogue on the meaning of the word mother, the journey to finding his birth mother, […]


009 Amy Kelly Sarai Obermeyer

In honor of International Women’s Month, today’s episode of About Your Mother brings you a story highlighting the strength and power of maternal lineage. In this dual interview, we celebrate the life of Vera Obermeyer, who recently passed away due to COVID. Our guests are here to talk about her long and colorful life full […]


About Your Mother - Guest Melanie Spring

What does it mean to own and share our own stories? Why would other people want to hear our stories?  In today’s episode of About your Mother, we answer those questions with our special guest, Melanie Spring. Melanie is a vibrant speaker, an approachable bad-ass woman, and the facilitator of both personal and brand stories. […]

recent posts


007 My Eponymous Fashion Line As A Love Letter to My Mother | Olivia Joffrey

In the latest episode of About Your Mother, we have a conversation with Olivia Joffrey. Olivia owns an eponymous fashion line that serves as a love letter to her mother, Anne-Marie. Through osmosis, Olivia absorbed the colorful and artistic life that her mother has led — a life filled with sensory details, records, books, sand, […]


006 Pursuit of Truth With A Capital T | Julie Barton Part 2

We are in the second part of our series with the wonderful Julie Barton. In our previous episode, we talked about Julie’s childhood memories and her path to becoming a New York Times bestselling author with her book, Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself. Today, we explore what it feels like to […]


We have a two-part series conversation with Julie Barton, a New York Times best-selling author of the book, Dog Medicine: How My Dog Saved Me from Myself. Her book is about her lifelong battle with depression and how it unravels an intricate family dynamic. In this first part, she brings into grasp the destructive power of depression […]

recent posts


Sugar Taylor - About Your mother Podcast

In today’s episode of About Your Mother, we speak with Sugar Taylor, a woman who exudes a ray of light. Sugar is a self-taught creative dynamo. She is a person who has battled anxiety and depression throughout her life and uses her creative energy as a means of healing. Her zest of life, spirit, resourcefulness, and […]


003 A Personal Breakthrough Inspired Sandra to Build a Business Helping Others To Be Unshakable | Sandra Possing

In the third episode of About Your Mother, our guest, speaker, and mindset coach, Sandra Possing talks about how building an Unshakeable Foundation and unleashing their inner badass empowers a woman. They also discussed in this episode, Sandra’s openness about her past and how it shaped her career path. Pay special attention to the part […]


002 My Mother Inspired Me to Build Platforms to Empower Women and Girls | Lauri Levenfeld:

Our next guest for About Your Mother is Lauri Levenfeld. She is a playful spirit and has a never-ending commitment to the female voice. Jennifer and Lauri collaborated together in the past on projects, but most recently, Lauri debuted an award-winning film called Mad World. Using her distinctive eye and straightforward and real words, she […]

recent posts


000 Welcome to the Podcast - About Your Mother

Welcome to our new podcast – About Your Mother, Where Your Story Begins. Host Jennifer Griffith is on a mission to celebrate and examine one of the most powerful and influential relationships in our lives: our relationship with our mother. The Power of Storytelling Each month, join Jennifer as she converses with compelling guests. She […]