Day 606 – Thankful for The Last Hug From Dad

Exactly one year ago today it was a pretty sweet Friday. I was pretty swamped at work and had a couple of calls scheduled that I needed to be focused on and I had my day worked out to almost the minute to make sure I was able to accomplish everything that needed to be done.

Out of the blue I received a text from my dad. He’d just spent a week in Rochester with a friend of his and was on his way back home. Seeing as he’d be driving by he wanted to stop in to see me. I almost said no due to how much I had going on but figured I could find a way to make it work. After a couple of quick calls and emails I was able to squeeze in some time to hang out with Dad, but it wasn’t going to be much time.

It never occurred to me that Dad had never been to our new building. While on his way he didn’t quite understand my directions (probably a mix up on both of our parts) and it took longer than expected for him to arrive. At this point I was getting nervous thinking about how much time I’d have with him before I had my other calls.

Something inside me told me to relax and everything would work itself out. Once Dad got there he got to meet the team, see my office, and we spent time in my office shooting the bull. He told me some stories about the week he’d just had, the chair he’d just bought, and things along those lines. We had a great time, but in the back of my head I kept thinking back to all the things that were piled up for me to accomplish.

At some point I must not have been hiding that nervousness very well and Dad picked up on it. After a little while he said it was about time for him to head out. We wrapped up the conversation and he said good bye to the team and we walked out to the hallway together. Wrapping up our time together we did what we always did when we first saw each other and when we said good bye. We shook hands, pulled each other in for a huge hug, and said either “Love you dude” or “Love you bud” to each other. As per the norm we exchanged the hug and love you’s and then I followed him out to his truck.

Once he got in and started to drive away I waved and smiled. Something deep in my head asked a weird question, “what if that was the last time you saw him?” I knew I’d been distracted with work stress, but we’d spent time together, laughed and smiled together, said “love you,” and ended with a hug… all the way we’d done so many times in the past. I smiled to myself and thought about how if it was the last time of course I’d have wanted to spend more time, but it was a pretty awesome time together just like normal.

As it happened, that truly was the last time I ever got a hug from my dad.

After we realized he wasn’t going to make it I’d thought about this moment a lot and thought about how much I wish I would’ve spent more time with him. I’d wished I’d taken more time with him and cancelled everything on my calendar to spend more time with him. For a little while I beat myself up over this. Not in a horrible way, but in that “what if” kind of way.

One day shortly after he’d passed I heard Pastor Reiff’s voice in my head. “Don’t be sad he’s gone, be glad for the time you had together.” That’s when it hit me. How awesome that we always shared that welcome and goodbye… How awesome that I still remember that last hug, the toughness of his hand, the strength of his other arm around me… How awesome that I still have that moment burned into my brain… How awesome that we had that last opportunity to spend time together in person… How awesome that Dad and I had so much time together…

Of course, I wish Dad was still here and I totally understand now when he’d tell Nick and I that he’d give almost anything for just one more day with his dad. That said, talk about ending on a high note. The last time that Dad and I spent together effort his stroke was an awesomely ordinary visit in which we did the things that we always did. I am so thankful for that last hug, I will carry that moment in my heart and soul for eternity. Whenever I think of that moment I no longer feel sadness over missing my dad. Rather, I feel extreme joy because it reminds me of the love we shared.

Dad, I wish we could’ve had so many more of those moments. How cool that we were able to wrap up our time together on Earth in such an epically ordinary way for us? Love you bud and am looking forward to the day we can hug again!

Thanks!!!

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Day 605 – Thankful for Storms and Beautiful Clouds

This morning on my drive into work there were some blue skies as well as cloudy pre-storm gray.  When I first started working in my office it was bright and sunny, but within a couple of hours the office had darkened significantly.  Shortly after a wonderful storm rolled in and the sounds of the heavy rain was so soothing and pleasant.

As the day went on it was sunny for a while, then cloudy, then lighter, then darker, and then light again.  Within one day it felt like a handful of trips around the sun had happened.  On my way home I was greeted with one of the most beautiful things there are (in my humble opinion)…  Dark bluish slate clouds contrasted against fresh bright green leaves being hit by the sun just right.  Those two colors contrast and pop in an incredible way!  Every time I see it I am struck with the beauty of those two colors side by side.  It’s not every time that there’s a cloudy sky, the conditions have to be just right to really bring it to life.  Today the conditions were right and it was a wonderful drive home.

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After supper we headed out on some errands.  On our way home the clouds had transformed into some pretty gnarly new formations.  Not only were they a bit strange, but there were several distinct types of different that made it even more cool!

Today was a crazy busy day filled with some very interesting twists and turns.  A little bit of both good and challenging.  Being able to set that all aside and just soak in the beauty of the natural world was the music my soul needed to hear today.

Thanks!!!

Day 604 – Thankful for a Backlog of Things That I’m Thankful For

While driving today I had an idea in my head and I started chuckling out loud. I had no idea what I was going to blog about today and it was for a pretty awesome reason… I’ve got a backlog of thins I’m thankful for!

On each of the past several days I’ve had several things that I was grateful for but I tried to stay focused on just one each time. After I’d type my blog I’d stop and think about how I’d use that idea for the next day only to find myself having a day in which there were even more tough choices.

Here are a few of the things I’ve been thankful for:

  • A team member really stepping up to live our values and offer up a “Do Right” that helped the team at her expense. She didn’t even hesitate, spoke right up and threw the idea out there knowing full well what it would mean for her. In the end we were able to help the team without that solution, but her willingness to offer up what she felt was right was nothing short of inspirational and awesome. I’m so very thankful to have someone like that on our team.
  • There was a very excellent gift I received from a significant event that is one that I will cherish forever. It’s funny how there are certain things we know will be with us forever, this is one of them and will elicit big dreams and smiles every time I see it.
  • I’m thankful that Becky is forgiving. I was super frustrated for no good reason yesterday morning and I took it out on her instead of taking a deep breath. Once I’d calmed down I apologized and felt like a giant ass and she forgave me and moved on. I’m thinking that’s where Dominic gets it from 😁. That morning she was an inspiration for me to remember to quickly forgive and let go the next time something small happens outside of my control.
  • It was really awesome just being home last night. Almost every night we’ve had something going on and it felt wonderful to fire up the grill, blog from the deck and do a little work in the backyard.
  • There was a fantastic and heartfelt thank you card and gift from completely out of the blue. The words she shared were heartfelt and appreciated and her action left a huge smile on the face of our entire family!
  • Isn’t it awesome when you happen to hang out with the right person at the right time and it puts you in an excellent mood? After a long day of work and driving I had just that with Kathy and it made my day!
  • Sharing parenting stories with my brother always leaves me smiling, but he had some absolute winners this week that have me still laughing!
  • We all have ups and downs in our work life, but mine don’t seem to be too bad when I see so many wonderful teammates all around me. Over the past few days they’ve continued to impress me, motivate me, inspire me, and bring joy to my life in so many wonderful ways. I’m thankful for each and every single one of them.
  • So many scouting memories all coming back, I’d forgotten just how many moments of my childhood were tied to scouting and brought me such joy and life lessons!
  • Spending time with my boys while doing something as basic as riding home from haircuts cracks me up. The entire ride was spent joking around, giving each other hell, and trying to ruin Dominic’s iPod game 😁. I am so thankful for them moments like that we have together.

Gavin decided to add a little fun with the signature... an ongoing tradition 😉

  • Every night I come home to the best wife ever. We crash next to each other on the couch, catch up quickly, go brain dead for a couple of minutes and then head off to bed, only to wake up we’ll before 5am and head out for our run… our time to reconnect, chill, and just be together. I can’t think of a better way to start the day!

See what I mean? Each of these could have been their own blog, but I only have so much time to type in my life. Thank you to all of you who’ve made my week awesome, I appreciate each of you!

Thanks!!!

Day 603 – Thankful for a New Father and Son Tradition, Order of the Arrow

We got news a couple of days ago that Dominic would be entering into a Scouting organization that I knew well when I was a Scout.  It is an organization that you must be voted into by your fellow troop mates as Scouts who best exemplify living the Scout Oath and Law in their daily lives.  Being elected to become a member of OA is a big honor and it was awesome to see that Dominic was selected for it!

Reading his letter brought back a flood of memories for me.  When I was selected I still remember being pulled out of the crowd at the Camp Tesomas firebowl to go up to stand in front of the Chief.  He said something to me that I will never forget and proceeded to “tap” me on the shoulder three times.  I sat from behind the fire for the rest of the event and was told to stay silent.  That night I slept in my sleeping bag under the stars where they left me and it was one of the coolest experiences of camping I’ve ever had.  The next day was spent doing some manual labor while maintaining a vow of silence.  Throughout the whole experience I was given a small booklet to read and consider while working in the quiet.  Funny thing is that almost 30 years later I still have those books!

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I’m so excited to think that Dominic will now have the same opportunity!  While it sounds like my “Ordeal” and his may be different I am hopeful it will be something that he holds near and dear to his heart for the rest of his life.  Through that experience I learned so much about leadership, living the Scout Oath and Law, and about myself.

When I think back to the experience I had I still remember the huge smiles of pride on the faces of my parents.  They were there for the event and I remember how happy I was for them to be there.  At the time I wasn’t sure why they were so proud, but now, as a dad, I totally understand.

Congrats on this incredible honor bud!!!  I can’t wait to see your new patch on your pocket flap.  You’re doing things right and your mom and I are so proud of the man you are already becoming.  Keep up the awesomeness, soak up the experience, and enjoy this next Scouting adventure.  Love you dude!!!

Thanks!!!

Day 602 – Thankful for Getting Out on the Water

Today’s been pretty solid all the way around.  Many great conversations, celebrating of successes, spending time with friends and mentors, hearing of others accomplishing goals, an awesome gift, the boys being fine on their own at home, Becky joining us in Lake City, and so many other wonderful moments.  It hasn’t all been perfect, but it’s been very full of joy regardless.  My heart is warmed as I pause and think of all that I am thankful for today.

There were a couple of moments though in which my head was filled with childlike wonder and they involved being on the river.  On a few days week my view of the river looks like this, a sunrise over the Black River yesterday morning:

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This evening it was a very different view as we went on a pontoon ride to wrap up the day with a few of my mentors.  As we were cruising on the Mississippi River there were so many views like this:

With the wind blowing in my face it just felt great to get lost in the beauty of the river and the bluffs it lies between.  The moon was out and bright and added a little extra to the view.  At one point an eagle flew close overhead, at another point and eagle took a stab at a fish.  I was able to see a significant portion of my Ragnar run segment heading north from Maiden Rock.  In another spot I was dreaming of having a house on top of the bluffs overlooking the Mississippi River Valley.  The sun was beating down and it felt glorious!

There was just a magic to being on the water that caused all stress to melt away and let me mind focus on the surroundings around me, and it felt great!

Thanks!!!

Day 601 – Thankful for a Great Kid’s Cup

Today was our annual Kid’s Cup event and it was a huge success!  Over $80,000 was raised to help kids and families at a couple of local hospitals.  All the money raised goes specifically to helping improve the comfort of children and their families in all types of medical situations.

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In addition to being a part of an event with a fantastic purpose I also very much enjoyed the time I had golfing and hanging out with some work friends.  Being able to spend time picking their brains about work while also having more time to talk with them about home life.

The event was a huge success and I’m so appreciative of the event itself, for everyone who donated to this great cause, and for all of the work family I was able to spend time with today.  My heart is full tonight thanks to all of you!

Thanks!!!

Day 600 – Thankful for Signs of Summer – Grills and Boats

Today I am thankful for a couple of wonderful signs of summer…  grills and boats.  After getting home from hanging with the guys this weekend it was time to bounce right back into reality.  Checking the grocery store off the list is pretty much par for the course on on Sunday, but the other couple of Must Do’s were things that don’t happen often.

Earlier this afternoon we finally got our boat on the water and into our slip.  The ride was a pretty efficient from A to B run but that didn’t reduce the happy feelings of summer as we were on the water.  The sun even started to bust out for us as we wrapped up and got back to the slip.  It’s a little late this year but better late than never!

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Our grill finally bit the dust a couple of weeks ago so we bought a new one.  I’d completely forgotten how much work is involved in putting one of them together…  and they haven’t gotten any easier over the years!  Thank goodness I had an awesome work partner with me today, Gavin.  He helped me out with screws, grabbing parts, installing parts, and cleaning.  I was very thankful for his help, there were more than a few times in which he saved me a lot of time and frustration.

Once the grill was complete it was a little too late to give it a test run, but just getting it put together reminded me of summer.  Just looking at it had me thinking of so many great meals we will grill up this summer.

The first day of putting the boat on the water is always magical.  It’s like the day after Thanksgiving when you realize Christmas is coming soon.  Throw in firing up a new grill on the same day and it was like Christmas came twice!

Thanks!!!