My father, David J. Farrell, former Boston Globe political columnist and Boston Herald Traveler managing editor (and occasional contributor to this blog), passed away in his sleep on Friday morning, August 4th.

Funny thing was, just before my sister called me at 5:45 AM with the news, my little daughter had woken up from a bad dream. I put her back to sleep and lay down again: I was dreaming myself: my dad and my brothers all dressed up at dinner in what seemed like a fancy hotel restaurant. My dad turned to me and said, “John, where are the girls? Bring the girls down, too.” I started to tell him that my two daughters were still asleep upstairs when I looked down and noticed that both were climbing into my lap.

Then I woke to the phone ringing and my sister who told me he had just passed away.

Twenty years ago, for his 60th birthday, I wrote this for him:

Those early years were marked at once
By knowledge great and journeys mild.
A knowledge that – at father’s call –
Gave birth to suns and tides and shooting stars,
And all the worth of heaven’s store
To my wide and fearful eyes.
And journeys mild –
For in my fright he took the care
To ease the flow of Nature’s gifts,
Which else would sure have overwhelmed
My shocked and awe-struck mind.

Thus on morning walks through sandy dunes
In fits and starts – but more than that
My bare and buckling legs could never take –
The world he introduced to me.
And year by year my place grew strong
Until at last the world could speak
To me alone. And though alone
I often walk the shores these days,
When in the deepest thoughts of life
And all its chores – I must recall
My father, as he was when I was young,
Knee-deep in salty waves as he stood before the sun,
And began, when least I knew, the learning of my life.

He was a great teacher and mentor. And although 80 years is a long life, I wish it could have been longer.