The Secret Life of Richie Stanulwich

Filed under: Family, Pondering, Running

Today it’s 9 years since my dad died. Every New Year’s Eve, after watching the ball drop, I sit down and write a post for him. This year I knew I wanted to include a certain song in the post, so I toyed for weeks with the idea of writing it down ahead of time. No matter what I did,  I couldn’t quite make the words come together the way I wanted them to. I didn’t know exactly what I was supposed to say–until I went to the movies tonight and saw The Secret Life of Walter Mitty. It was amazing. And it brought it all together for me.

First the song…

It’s a Miracle by Barry Manilow

I keep this song on my run list and whenever it comes up I yell “Hey Daddy” at the top of my lungs and point to the sky. I’m embarrassingly loud but not really embarrassed at all. Of course, when I’m at the gym I give it up with a whisper, but he still gets a fist pump. It just feels right.

But why does this song remind me of him so much? Why does it pump me up every time I hear it? I think it’s because I’ve always thought of my Dad as having a secret life like Walter Mitty.

My dad was a gentle, complex and wonderful man who had all these crazy wants and dreams tucked away at his core, but he buried those wants and dreams  because he didn’t know how to balance them with being a good husband or a good father. He was responsible and obligated. He just did his jobs. He led his life the best way he knew how. Sometimes he zoned out.



Just like Walter Mitty, my dad was a “ghost cat.”

(I won’t spoil it for you with an explanation of what that means–go see the movie.)

My world was a really good place because of all the choices my dad made and all the things he did for me, but I often wonder what he would have been like if he would have allowed himself more of the real life magic while he was here. But despite that, I’ve stopped thinking of him as having missed out. Now when I hear that song, I always get the strangest feeling he’s off having adventures and he doesn’t have to zone out to do it. I have an overwhelming sense he’s now joyful and he’s doing all the things  he never did before. He’s going to the most amazing places. This is how I picture him when we’re running together.



When I hear that song, I know he HAS found his way home and I am always thankful that it’s still right next to me.

Happy 9th Anniversary Daddy. I heard you tonight…

“But the message here was plain to see
Believe me…”

Love’s Divine.

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  1. I love this post. I love the thought that your dad is off on his postponed adventures and that they run with us every day (or in my mom’s case, shops with us 😉 Happy 2014, Kim <3

    • Ahhhh I can picture her. ((((hugs))))) Happy New Year. <3

  2. I wish I had known your dad. He sounds like the kind of guy that I would have had a lot to share dreams with!

    • You would of had lots of fun hanging out with him. <3 Happy New Year.

  3. Thinking of you and your dad today, Kim. As always, you have written another wonderful tribute to him. I love the sense that he is having amazing adventures, and that he’s also adventuring beside you and inspiring you in your own adventures.

    I’ve always loved James Thurber’s “Walter Mitty” story, and have always related to it, as I’ve always had the tendency to zone out into the worlds inside my head. Can’t wait to see the new movie. I’m sure that it will inspire me, as this post has, to commit more fully to putting my secret-life adventures into my writing this year. And hopefully those adventures on the page will lead to some real-life adventures as well.

    Thanks, always, for sharing your inspiring thoughts and words in your blog. I hope you and your family will have amazing adventures in 2014 – Happy New Year! ♥

    • Happy New Year Linda! Write all the words!!!! I believe in you. <3

  4. Your dad rocked! Knowing you and then meeting your parents it was easy to see how fortunate you were to have them as parenrs. YOUR DAD WAS THE STANDARD … I try to reach as a father. EB

  5. Your Dad was a WONDERFUL,DOWN-TO-EARTH GUY that we all loved!!!!We all miss him, but know that he’s looking down on us. I’m glad we could all remember him today at mass…I’m sure he was watching all of us. You know, we both talked very frankly because we were both battling cancer & he told me that he felt so blessed with his life & was so thankful for his wonderful family!…………….Love, Joan

    • Thanks for all you did for him and us–I miss him every day. <3

  6. To my niece Kim,
    Tommy told me about your article and that I should read it. I loved it!! My brother was a wonderful man and we all really miss him. I’m sure he is watching over all of us but especially his children and grandchildren. Now I’ll have to go see that movie.
    Love, Aunt Karin

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