father by kerry pane


by Kerry Payne


I adored you.


Fiery red hair, flashing blue eyes, and a laugh that engaged your every cell.

You were electric.


I feared you and your heart that moved from tender to cruel with each drink you took; learning early to tiptoe through eggshells, not knowing when they’d crack, only sure that they would.


Twelve when you became the man of your house; your own special dreams withered on the vine.  Like your father before, you were no match for family life.


Is that why you drank?  To remember, to forget?

Is that why you roamed, your spirit restless, always searching, always searching?


The fights, the tears, the sacrifice, the life I vowed I would never repeat.

Dreams set aside for the sensible path; my head faced one direction and my heart in another.


Your suicide ripped my heart into a thousand tiny pieces I stuffed deep into my pockets and never examined, for fear it would undo me.


For seven years, your photos hidden so they wouldn’t mock me, I did not mourn you.  To do so then would be to admit we’d failed, both you and me.


You jarred me into awareness of the passing of time, of the danger of living with untested dreams.


I see you now.  You were brave and vulnerable, certain and confused and filled with hopes and regrets.  The best of you is what I like most in me and I wish I had not wasted a moment angry with you, in your life or after you died.


Your gypsy ways turned me from my camera, and your death brought me back to it. What a gift you left behind.


Now when I learn somebody chooses to live because of the stories I’ve shared, it gives meaning to the journey we’ve traveled together.


I could not save you, but you may have saved me.  With your picture in my camera bag, and your lessons in my heart, together we’re saving others.


Kerry Payne, June 12, 2011.

27 Responses to “father by kerry pane”

  • Hmmmm… how do I start… this comment… this thought ..
    Hmmm.. Let me think…I’ll wait.. I don’t know.. I’ve no idea…

    Kerry thank you so very much for your precious support this last week …


    we are the survivers. much love to you and your father

  • For the last week or so I’ve been wondering a lot about suicide and the whole concept of why people take this step. Of course this all started with “tushikur rahman’s – fatalistic tendency” and then I found out that Marc Davidson’s incredible heart breaking sculptures which I very frequently view dedicated to his wife are also due to her suicide and that hit me very hard because I’m a great admirer of those sculptures. So I felt very guilty, bad about my comments on suicide no doubt I now could put a name and a face in this whole subject. I really wanted to write a letter to Marc expressing my sincere apologies for my harshness and lack of knowledge towards the whole subject of suicide, but now with this essay I’ve decided to apologise to both Marc – (publicly) and Kerry and whoever else is a survivor of such a sad experience, as I am now beginning to understand that nothing on this subject is black or white.
    Much love to both Kerry and Marc, both of you are helping people break the social stigmas involved in suicide which all survivors suffer.


    thank you for this gorgeous photo-painting on father’s day and also the the poem and the love. i see him (though i never met him) in you and in this fiery-red golden landscape…..and in your fiery-red hair and moon-blue eyes as well and gypsy heart of song and passing…..

    love, inimitable and inextinguishable…



  • Thank you, dear Kerry, for your courage to face the pain and reach out your hand to those who have felt alone. Your Dad’s fiery passion lives on in you but brings life instead of death. May your healing continue to show you the way to help others find their way to life.


  • a civilian-mass audience

    KERRY,my KERRY,my red hair BURNING Aussie…
    I wanna hug you and tell you…
    it’s gonna be all right…I know,it won’t change a thing
    have this in your mind…YOU are a BRAVE soul
    we love you!

    “Live or die, But don’t poison everything.”
    that’s my mantra these days…oime…I am simple kinda human…

    KERRY and all of you…who are in pain…I am bringing ouzo,olives and chickens
    and as long as I live…your civilian’s house will be here…for you


  • huge heart kerry..
    your courage….
    for them…
    for us……
    your writing is beautiful..
    such important work you are doing…
    i thank you again…..
    and again….
    from my

  • Kerry, many thanks for sharing this, and thanks to DAH for choosing to post this at a time when we’ll all stop and think on it even more than usual. Brave but wise choice, I reckon.

    I don’t know you well, but the dialogue we have with our parents and our coming to terms with the changes time brings (like this) is probably the hardest or one of the hardest dialogues we ever have. But one worth doing. And you’ve done it so well here. It’s a testament to all of us.

    I’m sorry for your loss, and I wish you well in your life. Keep your heart as strong as it here, and I’m sure you’ll do some really amazing things for years to come. And thanks again for being brave enough to share this.


  • Thank you Kerry for reminding me to remember my own father, who took his life when I was 12. Because of those long ago scars I never thought I would be celebrating this day as a father myself – yet here I am. Here’s to father’s everywhere, and fathers past and those yet to come. May their hearts be soft and bodies strong and their mistakes forgiven.

    Off to Felix’s first baseball game with one of my oldest pals and his one year old (and the Mom’s too!). Happy Father’s Day to all.


  • KERRY…thank you for this….what a beautiful tribute to the realities of this human who was also your father. yes he lives on in you…in both spirit and memory. my mother attempted suicide when i was a wee one of five…i found her, she survived, but suffers still with the demons that called her to that edge in the first place. my life is in many ways lived in reaction to this narrowly missed tragedy in our lives – i work hard to find the light that she cannot…

    love you, brave woman…xo

  • KERRY,

    Thanks for sharing this with us…. a beautiful tribute to your father…. your words really touched me today… I have a little daughter as you may know… Being a father is not an easy talk… You are a very special and strong person Kerry…. Your father must be very proud from where ever he is looking….


  • kerry, i see so clearly your father walking alongside you these days. You seem to have come full circle. First, pushing it down, then reaching out to others to make sense through their stories, and now coming back to the story of your own heart. All the while reminding us of the fragility of human spirit. The importance of acceptance and listening to the heart. Perhaps something your father couldn’t do, but now burns on in your fiery spirit. Light speed my dear friend, and poignant for burn to publish today. Sometimes it is only in loss that we remember what we have. Off to call my pops now…


    The joys that we have and the burdens that we bear, are the things that make us beautiful rich deep strong…

    I see that in you my dear every time i meet you, don’t ever lose that… thank you for your words today



  • Kerry, this is one of the greatest tributes your father could ever have hoped for
    and all I can say is that you did see him, you do see him for who he is/was….but these words
    are some of the most poignant i’ve ever read anywhere about anything…..they come from so deep
    within you that it feels like someone stuck their hand way down inside you and brought them up,
    dripping with blood and honey and tears and laughter and all sorts of things that are intimate to you.

    but he sure did give you a gift and in turn, you have given him one.

    thank you for sharing, for those of us who never had fathers at all, thank you for sharing. maggie

  • Kerry,

    Thank you for sharing.

    There is something in your thoughtfulness and beautiful words that is meaningful to each and every one of us – no doubt.

    I have read it many times and I am still finding inspiration….. as a son and as a father.


  • Thank you, Kerry.

    You have written as beautifully as you have photographed and combined, your photo and your writing comprise a complete novel. Indeed, I have read many novels that did not tell so complete as story as the one you have told above.

    Well done. May the memory of your dad and the good that he did even in the sorrow he left behind linger throughout the duration of humanity.

  • Hi Kerry. Excellent photograph. Stands very well on its own. Then the words give it so much power.

    I was hoping to write something significantly more substantial, but the day has gotten away from me. Another time, perhaps…

    Wishing you the best….


  • Kerry…beautiful, poignant and eloquent. Thank you for bearing your soul once again so that we can better understand our fathers, the responsibility that comes of being one and in particular yours and the life and loss of whom has made you who you are, a beautiful and courageous human being.



    From the bottom of a heart that feels more open than ever, I thank you for the depth and truth and sensitivity in your comments today. I have read and re-read each of your words and wanted to allow them to sink below the surface, to distill a little, before responding.

    There is such beauty in this comment thread; the very best of human nature, of human nurture, and of love, is laid out here for us all to share in.

    David, I will say it again; you have created magic in this place. magic.

    Thank you for allowing my voice and the whispers of my dad to be heard today. Thank you for hearing them.


  • Kerry…heart-rending, beautiful picture and prose. Such a sweet dedication to your Dad and to all affected by suicide. Your work and words bring comfort, light and love to so many…what a wonderful gift to your Dad and the rest of the world.



  • Very, very moving. Thank you for sharing so much of yourself, Kerry.

    I have never known anyone who has taken his or her life, and do not (first-hand) know any survivors – I have much to learn…

  • Beautiful and very sad, thank you kerry for sharing something so personnal and difficult.
    Your words went straight to my heart.

  • I’ve lost the count of how many times I’ve opened this post.. would like to write something.. cannot.. better not.. sending hugs over though, that I can :)

  • Kerry,

    Your courage and honesty is beautiful and real. I can’t empathize with your loss or the struggle with your healing, but what I do know is that the world is a better place because of your willingness to share your experience. Brava, my dear, dear other half of Red Squared. Much love and art to you and thank you for letting your talent reveal it’s rawness and take flight…


  • It’s a great tribute. Sad, violent but full of life…

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