The Dad She Never Knew

For my Media Writing course, I was assigned the task of writing a feature story about a person who has an interesting story. I chose my friend Liz, as I have known her for fourteen years and think that she has had an especially interesting life. Below is the story I wrote which I wanted to share for those who sometimes need inspiration or a different perspective about life in general.

On a warm Memorial Day in the Washington D.C. area, Elizabeth Trundy walks gingerly through the lush and freshly cut grass. It’s the kind of day where the sun sparkles in the sky and a light breeze dances through the trees. She wanders through perfectly synchronized dots of marble that stretch as far as the eye can see, clutching a piece of paper that simply reads “149-9.” Close to her heart, it’s a number that will lead her to hallowed ground. Upon arriving, she stops and exhales, wiping off a thin layer of dirt from the white marble and sweeping away the blades of grass. “I miss you dad,” she whispers.

David Trundy, a Marine Corps helicopter pilot, died during a routine training exercise when his daughter was only eighteen months old. Trundy struggled with not having her Dad as she grew up, keeping her questions to a minimum because she feared they would be too painful for her Mom to discuss. Kim Elliott, Trundy’s mother, says, “If a topic made me sad, she would not bring it up again. Then she believed that she really had not lost anything since she did not know her Dad.”

Trundy spent her adolescence deflecting questions and resisting the volcano of anger that had built up inside of her. “I especially hated when people would ask me about what my Dad did for a living, or if my parents were divorced. It was so uncomfortable to have to tell everyone that he died, and then of course, they all wanted to know how he died. I started to remove myself emotionally from the story. I never wanted anyone to feel sorry for me, so I acted tough and like it was no big deal,” Trundy explains. “But it was a huge deal.”

When Trundy was in her early twenties, she was inspired to learn more about her Dad.

She moved to a sleepy beach town in South Carolina for a period of time to help take care of her Dad’s ailing mother. She lived in the house in which her Dad was raised, read letters he had written, and tended to her ill grandmother. Trundy, her grandmother, and aunts would gather around the kitchen table, talking about the son, brother, and father they had all lost. They shared stories over warm cups of coffee, a salty breeze, and views of the inter-coastal waterway, allowing Trundy to connect with her dad in new and different ways.

“I think the best thing was reading about how much he loved my mom and his relationship with God,” Trundy says. “When I was younger my dad was more of a legend or myth to me because I didn’t allow him to be real. But now, after learning so much about him, I feel like I know who he was and what he stood for. This pushes me to be a better person and to make him proud of the woman I am becoming.”

“I think there is a hole in her heart that is ‘dad’ shaped. The only person who can fill this hole is our Lord Jesus Christ,” Elliott says.

Trundy echoes that sentiment. “I think above all things, I’ve been influenced by my dad’s relationship with Jesus Christ. I have gained more self-esteem and confidence through knowing how much my God in Heaven loves me and gives me the strength to go forward. Both my father and mother held fast to those same beliefs.”

Trundy’s close friend, Alyssa Hayes says “I have, as of late, seen more maturity in her relationship with her dad. I see her entering an adult relationship with him where she can respect him for who he was as a man.”

Trundy has taken a journey that has led her through pain, anger, and ultimately peace in her relationship with the father she never knew. “Some days I specifically think about him, and some days I don’t. But I believe that since I’ve taken this journey to know him, I’ve bettered myself and changed. Therefore, in that way, he’s with me everyday,” says Trundy. “The next time I visit his grave in Arlington National Cemetery, it won’t just be honoring the loss of him in my life, it will be honoring his memory and the person he was.”


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