Friday, January 25, 2008

Daddy Bill didn't come for coffee today....

My friend and her book on her grief after her father's death are featured in a Dale Moss column...

Bill Smith got sick and, around here, everybody knew Bill Smith. Keep us up to date, friends and family asked. Krisanne Smith Roll agreed.

She sent e-mails, day after day, when her father improved and when he didn’t. Roll held back little, as if she ever does. When she rejoiced, people knew. When she despaired, people knew. She let people in and kept them there. They took to heart Roll’s raw emotional roller coaster. They forwarded copies that multiplied. Roll heard from sympathizers who otherwise were strangers. They thanked Roll. They unloaded on her their own such ordeals.

Smith, 75, died on July 21, 2005. Roll grieves pretty much like it was yesterday.

“It never will leave,” she said. “But the anger will.”

By anger, Roll refers in part to the reality of having to cope without a man she considers as good as men get. He deserves an honor, in fact, and that she provides with a book built from those e-mails. She calls it “Daddy Bill Didn’t Come For Coffee Today.”

Not just a memoir-- yet neither steadfastly self-help-- the result was an outlet for Roll to remember and a cinch-of-a-way for Smith not to be forgotten. “The only thing I did not want was my picture on the cover,” Roll said.

Editors tend to get their way, though, and Roll’s editor, Eileen Wilmoth of Cincinnati, imagines sales this year of about 10,000. The book soon should be available widely after a debut in Roll and Smith’s Crawford County hometown in which every available copy -- 300 – was claimed. “If you read it, it’s not easily forgotten,” Wilmoth said.

Roll, 50, said she can grieve without being obsessed with grief. She balances being mad that Daddy Bill is dead with being unafraid of death. First e-mail readers, now book readers, learn what she did not intend necessarily to teach. “If it’s going to be there, you want to feel it,” Roll said of grief. “You want to feel every aspect of it.”

Roll is grateful, yet remains surprised, by the interest. She set out not to suggest herself as an authority, much less to produce a book. Roll simply did as asked. She shares her father’s death and recounts his life. She reveals small kindnesses, such as being given blankets to keep her just-dead father’s body warmer, longer. She cherishes how, while feeding him pudding at the hospital, he insisted she slow down. “He still was the father, and I was the child,” Roll said.

And she relates profound qualities, like how Daddy Bill loved and doted on her three adopted children – each of color – every bit as much as her three birth kids. Smith encouraged the kindness, patience and faith he exuded. “I wouldn’t have it out there for a minute, if it reflected badly on him,” Roll said of the book.

How could it? Smith understood what most matters and he practiced it unwaveringly. He traveled little because he might miss something at home. “He certainly loved English, he loved the interdependence of the people here,” Roll said. “He loved what is Mayberry about it.”...

The book can be ordered from Daddy Bill Publishing, Box.157, English, IN 47118, by calling (812) 338-2115 or by going to on the Internet. The book costs $23.50. A Canadian company, Trafford Publishing, is to handle distribution and marketing.

Krisanne has been a friend of ours for a number of years and leads our trans-racial adoption group.

I enjoyed the book immensely. It is a softer version of Lewis A Grief Observed. And she adds a small-town feel that should make it especially poignant for those from small towns-- a point that makes the book far more enjoyable.

I can’t speak directly to the subject of grief since no one has died who has been especially close to me. But having dealt with those who have grieved in a pastoral sense—and trying to imagine that the grieving would read anything—I think this would be “effective” in helping people work through their grief. I think it would also be a useful resource for those who counsel others within grief.


At January 26, 2008 at 4:33 PM , Blogger Kay said...

What a beautifully written story.
My father died on Nov.7,2006. He was also 75 years old and my parents had been married 56 years. I will admit at times this was painful to read but I made it through and what I read will never be forgottten. Like Krisanne's Daddy Bill my father also understood what most matters and he practiced it. I would like to thank Krisanne for reminding me of this

At January 27, 2008 at 9:33 PM , Blogger Unknown said...

Krisanne's vivid voice brings to life all the characters in this book, but especially Daddy Bill. What a great tribute to a life of a wonderful man and an honest sharing of the good, the bad, and the ugly moments of greiving.

At January 27, 2008 at 9:53 PM , Blogger Scott and Sophie said...

A wonderful book! The book is well written and the emotions are very real. It touches a special place in your heart and is not easily forgotten!

At January 28, 2008 at 9:17 AM , Blogger Unknown said...

This is the dearest book I have read in a long time. I laughed and I cried in the same paragraph. Having gone through losses of my own I loved it that I understand where she was coming from in the entire book. The town of English is "too good to be true" and Daddy Bill is the best. I fell in love with the entire family. Everyone should have such a wonderful family and everyone should read this book

At January 28, 2008 at 9:46 AM , Blogger mpatton said...

The words in Krisanne's book were like they were coming from my heart. I lost my dad in much the same way, but never put anything to paper. I laughed and cried with her, experienced the same emotions and received some closure that I didn't have before. Thank you for giving me that most precious gift. You are a friend for life!

At January 28, 2008 at 6:26 PM , Blogger DwanaJoy said...

Krisanne's story of Daddy Bill is a journey of a daugther's love. A wonderful tribute to man she was privileged to call "Daddy." My step-mother, Eveyln, shared this amazing story with me and described it as "must read." Spoken from a woman who lost her first born son to cancer (at the age of 10) only years ago, I knew it would be worth my while. Thanks Krisanne for capturing into words the story what it feels to grieve. It is incredible to hear God speaking to my own heart through your written words.

At February 1, 2008 at 10:29 AM , Blogger Bobby J said...

I knew Daddy Bill for 28 years and enjoyed many a cup of coffee with him during that time. Bill was a wonderful individual full of faith and fun. He loved the Lord, his family, English, his friends, a good cup of coffee, and laughter. Bill was a great story teller. I think Krisanne probably inherited some of that, you can see it in her book. She shares from her heart the journey of losing someone who meant the world to her. She expresses what we all feel but are unable to put into words. This is a must read for those who are grieving and those who will.


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