Day 266 – Thankful for a Normal Day, with an Unexpected Reminder of Dad

Everything was almost back to normal today.  The normal car passed Becky and I and we traded waves as we went for our regular run.  I got back into the regular routine of getting ready for work and heading in to the office.  At the office I got back into the usual Monday morning meetings, one after another with just a couple of exceptions.  After the standard Monday work I headed home.  Just like normal I called my mom and we talked while I headed home.  We ate dinner in a hurry as per the norm and then headed out to logrolling.  We went out for a quick drink afterwards and then headed back home to get into our typical Monday routine.

Today was ordinary, standard, regular, basic, the usual, typical, and exactly what I needed.  It was a chance to get back into the normalcy of every day life.  No worries, no sadness, no loss, a chance to lose myself in routine…  something I’ve been longing for over the past couple of weeks.

As I realized just how much I was appreciating this basic day it made me smile.  There’ve been many days when I get frustrated at living the same old same old.  I’ve wanted a break, something different, some excitement.  Extra time to relax, more time to try something else, just a change of pace.  Contrast that with today as I am soaking in the awesomeness of the mundane.  Today I am thankful for have the regular day of life to get back to feeling normal.  It just feels right, and I am very appreciative of that.

There was one point of the day in which reality hit me hard.  It was an unexpected reminder of my dad that brought on a case of the feels.  When I pulled up my Facebook for a moment I saw the reminder of last year’s blog post

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This was my post from Father’s Day last year, when Dad was still alive and there wasn’t a hint of a clue that it would be the last Father’s Day he would celebrate.  We were able to talk about the post, bond over it, and share our love for each other.  I’m thankful to have written it while he was alive to read it.  It helped me share and express my love and appreciation of him in a different way.

Reading this post brought back memories and feelings.  Mainly it was an appreciation for what an awesome father I was fortunate to have.  It also seemed fitting to have used the line “He’s one of my best friends and talking with him always puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart.”  Even though he’s gone I still talk with him and it always puts a huge smile on my face and in my heart.

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Day 265 – Thankful for a Father’s Day Gift from My Dad, a Better Understanding

Over the past few days (and couple of weeks) my dad has given me quite the unexpected Father’s Day gift.  As I’ve rekindled many relationships and built others there’s been an ongoing theme…  Many stories about Dad and the impact that he’s had on so many people.

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When we talked and got together we were always talking, sharing stories and updates of what we were up to.  Somehow in my brain I was kind of focused on the dad that I knew and assumed that was all there was to know about him.  Seriously, I’ve known the guy for 40 years, how could there be any surprises, right?  Over the past couple of weeks I’ve learned just how naive a thought that was.

Between time in the hospital, messages on Facebook, conversations at the funeral, in cards, and everywhere in between I’ve heard more stories about my dad than ever.  Dad was a very proud man and liked to keep somethings private, I will respect that by speaking in generalities.  Also know that as I share, there are so many more stories that I would love to share, but I can’t find a way to do it without sharing more than he would like.  Here’s a short list of some of the things I’ve learned about my dad or seen much more clearly from these stories:

  • His inventing skills were top notch!  One of his most recent creations still has me smiling from ear to ear.  It was an incredible example of Dad’s ingenuity, attention to detail, and focus on quality execution.
  • In an incredibly heartwarming letter I learned about ways my dad had been known to go out of his way to cheer up a friend.  It was something that was way out of his comfort zone, but that didn’t stop him from doing it.  I teared up while reading it and was so proud of Dad for doing it.
  • The number of lives he brightened still blows my mind.  In one example that particularly touched me Dad went out of his way to have a conversation with someone who was in a really tough spot, brought happiness to them, and moved them to happy tears.  I heard this story right before the funeral and knew that if I was going to break down emotionally during his eulogy it was going to be due to this story being that fresh in my mind.
  • Hearing stories of ways Dad has given of himself have been coming non-stop.  From financial, time, skills, emotions, and smiles there’ve been many examples of how he’s helped other.  He’d shared a few of these with me as they happened, but I had no idea the extreme depth of his generosity.

Over the years I’ve shared my passion of the analogy of a shoebox diorama (Day 332 of last year).  When making them as a kid I’d make a scene in the box close it up, and then look in through an eyehole.  If I cut a new hole in the box I’d see the same thing, but from a different direction.  The same details, but with a different meaning due to the change in perspective.  The more holes I looked through the better the understanding one would get.  This Father’s Day my dad gave me the gift of several new vantages to see his life from.  He punched new holes in the shoebox diorama that was his life and opened it up to view him differently, to get a more complete picture of who he really was in total, not just “the dad” role that I saw him from.

I’d give most anything to have him back with me, to be able to hop on the phone and wish him a happy Father’s Day, to have some fun texts between the two of us and my brother, and have life go back to normal.  All that being said, I can’t imagine going back to not seeing all of these great things about him.  As big of a hero as he already was for me, his legacy continues to grow, my respect for him increases, and I’m even more proud of him.  Each story reminds me of ways that I need to be better in order to follow in his footsteps, and help raise my boys to do the same.

Dad, thank you for this awesome Father’s Day gift, the ability to see your life from new perspectives and angles.  I’m more proud of you than I’ve ever been.  Happy Father’s Day Dad – Love you!

Thanks!!!

Day 264 – Thankful for Planting Trees, Paintball Chicken, Picking Rocks, and Bonding Time with Dominic

There’s still a big hole in my life today…  There’ve been several times in which I was about to call Dad but then realized that he’s not around.  While I still talk to him it’s just not the same and there’s a feeling of loss every time I think of calling.  That’s why I’m thankful for some pretty awesome distractions that helped me out a lot today.

The day started off with a couple of my uncles coming over to help move some small trees to a new location near the house.  There was something therapeutic about planting those trees, it was something that we can look back to and remember fondly.  It also provided some quality time with my uncles, brother, and Dominic.  As we wrapped up I had the opportunity to see my dad’s most recent shed and it left me smiling.

Later in the day Nancy, her sister Patsy, Becky, the boys, and I pulled out the paintball guns and played the game they loved with Grandpa Pete, Paintball Chicken.  We laughed, giggled, had a great time, and had a brief respite from grief.

Before heading out we spent time picking rocks in the pit.  This was one of Dad’s favorite hobbies and we always had fun doing that with him.  I felt close to him while searching out the best rocks.  Over the course of the week I ended up with a 5 gallon bucket full of rocks. 🙂

On the way home Becky and I drove separately (a result of timing for Thursday) so Dominic rode with me.  The ride started with Dominic playing his iPod and me listening to an audiobook.  After a while he put his iPod down and I turned off the book.  We were quiet, then started chatting, and then proceeded to rock out to the tunes he had on his iPod.  We jammed out, did some car dancing, sang loud, and laughed a lot.  Next thing I knew we were back home, but both smiling.  Dad would have been proud (of the time together, not the musical choices!).

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To be clear, we took this once we were parked in our driveway 🙂

I have a sneaking suspicion that it’ll be a long road until life starts to feel normal again, but as long as I can keep finding moments like there were today I know that I’ll be alright.

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Day 263 – Thankful for Dad’s Funeral

Tonight I’ve got to start off with a warning…  I’m emotionally exhausted and am not quite sure where this is going to end up.  Often times I have a somewhat preset direction that I’m going to go, but tonight I’m shooting from the hip a la Dad’s favorite football player ever, Brett Favre.   There were so many reasons I am thankful for Dad’s funeral, when I try to pinpoint a few I’m completely overwhelmed with so many thoughts and emotions.  I’m going to try to go chronologically in order to not miss anything.

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If a picture of Dad would sum him up, this would possibly be it.  Helping others smile while staying in the background, watching with love, big smile of happiness, pride and love on his face.  Love you Dad!

I’m thankful for the huge numbers of people who came in to pay their respects to Dad.  It warmed my heart to see just a fraction of the people he’s impacted in his life.  There was constantly a line of people coming in, the church was packed, and there were even a few friends from out of town that had to listen from the basement due to the upstairs being filled.

Seeing so many people from my childhood, my past, dad’s friends, high school acquaintances, and other people from around town that I haven’t seen in a very long time.  I’m very thankful for seeing so many familiar faces.

There were so many friends from out of town, in town and all around that came in. There were some that I knew were coming and there was a handful of surprises that left me choked up.  Having that much support and love all around me was nothing short of awesome and greatly appreciated!

During the funeral I spoke for my dad.  It was one of the most difficult things I’ve done in my life.  My hope was to put myself in Dad’s shoes and share what he would want to be said at his funeral.  (I’ll copy the speech down below as I had a handful of requests for it)  Knowing that I was about to address many people about a very emotional topic I was very nervous about my ability to make it through without breaking down.  During one of our car conversations Dad made it clear to me that he would give me strength.  As I spoke I felt his hand on my shoulder and it wasn’t until the last couple of sentences that I struggled.  After the dust of the funeral settled I had a moment of silence that I filled by talking with Dad.  In my head (and in my heart) I heard him tell me he was “proud of you bud!”

There were so many stories of my dad shared that I struggled to keep them all in my memory.  Most of them involved Dad cheering someone up, helping someone out, or helping others appreciate each day of their life.  It was awesome!  I always knew my dad was a super hero, but this just added to his legacy.

So many hugs, cries, and expressions of love were shared.  While my heart hurts from missing my dad, my heart was filled with all of the love today.  I could feel him jumping in on the hugs from time to time.

After the funeral Nick and I spent some quiet time with just the two of us drinking beers while sitting on the rock wall talking about the day, Dad, and life without Dad.  The bonding that was done was priceless and will always be remembered.

Becky’s been watching all over me today, taking care of me, holding me up, and making sure that I keep making it through.  I’m so thankful for having her in my life!

There were a couple of other moments that I am thankful for, but they’ll either have to wait or are a little more private.  

One last one to share, I’m thankful for this day to end.  I’m emotionally exhausted, in a weird mix of sad yet very happy…  maybe satisfied is the better description?  Regardless, I also feel an overwhelming sense of love and a great deal of pride for my dad.  There’s also some nervousness as I realize just how big of shoes he’s left for me to fill.  That said, I’m ready for bed.  I’m ready to start a new day.  I’ll hold this one in my head and heart for eternity, and am very thankful for it, but it is time to rest.

Thank you again to everyone for the hugs well wishes, prayers, and so on.  Whether you were here or not I know so many were with us in spirit today to celebrate my dad.  Thank you all for the love, it is greatly appreciated!!!

Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

Reflection of Dad at His Funeral:

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

That’s really it, isn’t it?  The whole story of my dad in a nutshell.  In just one sentence you probably have a flood of fond memories of him.  Let me re-read that sentence…  Take time to smile about the memories that come to mind…

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who had met him, and his name was Pete.  

For me this brings back memories of building a treehouse with Dad and his grandsons.  It reminds me of putting in a ceiling light with Dad and my brother.  I remember the smile and giddiness of my dad as we happened to drive past his old bible camp on a trip into the UP.

Those memories are the ones that will bring us happiness in this time of sadness.  Dad gave us all a great gift, those memories and we need to hold on to them tightly.

We also owe it to Dad to not only keep those memories alive in our hearts, but also to create more memories like them for others.  If Dad had one wish it wasn’t for a huge crowd or a fancy funeral, it was for all of us to help each other.  To create more happiness for each of us. 

Each and every day of his life Dad lived to his set of core values.  As we continue to live our lives we may think of him and smile as we live those values.  For instance, when you start a conversation with a stranger and they walk away smiling, Dad was with you.  

Dad was a family man.  Living his Christian ideals this meant that the word family wasn’t limited to just blood, it was inclusive of everyone.  Whether son, spouse, brother, friend, or stranger he loved you and you could feel it.  

There was an appreciation for life Dad Pete had that inspired each of us.  He was present in each moment and every conversation.  Always playful, he could always find the way to bring a smile to anyone at any time.

The harder the work the greater the reward for Dad.  In the woods, in his workshop, at a friend’s house, or wherever his help was needed he enjoyed the pleasure that comes from hard work.

Most importantly, Dad’s focus was on helping anyone who needed help.  He was always giving of his time, skills, and anything that was ever needed.  Whether taking time to sit with a friend, help with his church, listen to a friend, coach a little league team, bring a smile to someone who’s hurting or answer one of about a thousand home improvement questions for his sons, he was always there to help.  His generosity and love of helping others will continue through all of us.

If we wish to honor Dad’s legacy and help it continue here are three ways he would like us to do that.

1. Start a conversation with a stranger and leave them smiling, maybe buy lunch for someone you don’t know in a diner, but help a stranger smile

2. Be willing to make a gift of ourselves and help someone who needs it, there’s always a way if you are willing

3. Appreciate every day God grants us.  Love your family (& all of mankind) and share that love with them.  Stay positive, smile, and be thankful for what you have.  Be present.  That’s how we show appreciation for each day.

The biggest tribute we can give him is to live those values and help others smile.  Dad may have passed away, but his legacy will live on through many for generations.

There was a man who brightened the lives of all who’d met him, and his name was Pete.  We’re all better having known him…  and I incredibly fortunate and proud to have been able to call him Dad. 

I love you Dad.

Day 262 – Thankful for Dad’s Gift of Extra Time

What I am thankful for today is something that has been running through my head on a regular basis over the past few days, but I’m especially thankful for it.  As I continue to process everything it keeps looping over and over in my head…  Dad gave us the gift of extra time to prepare ourselves.  I’m not sure if it was God’s plan to work out this way or if Dad did some negotiating for a little extra time, but either way, I’m thankful we had extra time.

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When the call came that Dad had a stroke I was nervous but assumed it would be okay.  I’ve known many people who’ve had a stroke and while of course it is a big deal, it is something that can be recovered from.  Plus, maybe it isn’t really that bad, maybe it was something else, maybe he’s going to be fine in a days.  Those were all thoughts running through my head.

After Nick called the second time to let me know Dad was being air lifted to Marshfield I became more nervous.  It must be serious for the chopper to get him, but I’m sure he’ll be okay.  There was fear, but manageable fear.  At this point I had still planned on joking with Dad about how “if you really wanted a helicopter ride that bad…” I was becoming more scared, but I was still optimistic.

When I saw Dad in the hospital for the first time I was scared.  He just wasn’t right and he was unconscious.  When the neurologist was explaining his situation and mentioned “die” I quickly drifted into another world.  This one had stopped spinning and completely thrown me off of it.  As I started to come back to reality the neurosurgeon told us that Dad would die if there wasn’t a surgery and possibly wouldn’t survive the surgery I was shaken to the core.

Once surgery was complete I was still petrified, but was optimistic.  Over the next handful of days I started to come to grips with the fact that I may never talk with my dad again.  On Saturday morning I dealt with knowing that I would never talk with my dad again (at least physically).  I shared the news with Becky while at a soccer tournament and then with my boys that night at home.  We all dealt with it on Sunday and started to really picture what the world without Dad would be like.

Monday I thought I’d have more time with him.  Maybe a miracle would occur and he’d be okay I kept thinking.  While that thought resonated I kept realizing he would be gone, but not for a long while.  When the nurse let us know he was struggling that afternoon it started to loom over me, the specter of his death.  As I stood by him as he faded I kept hoping for a different conclusion, but it kept sinking in.  Upon his last breath I still held on to some crazy hop.  When his heart stopped I realized he was gone.  Over the next few hours I slowly came to grips with life without Dad.

There was a really high probability that Dad would’ve been gone right away on the first Monday (6/5), but he didn’t, he survived.  By staying for another week he gave all of us the gift of more time.  To be sure, I’m not thinking it was just for me or anything crazy like that.  I’m thinking there were many many reasons he hung for a week.  Maybe there were things people had to say.  Maybe there were things to fixed.  Maybe there were things to be learned.  Maybe we needed time to prepare.

That’s why I am so thankful for the extra time that Dad gave us (or the Big Guy Upstairs gave us).  I have learned so much more about myself, my faith, my family, and my ability to live without my dad.  Had Dad been gone right away there were many things that would’ve been missed, unsaid, undiscovered.  I also know that I wouldn’t have been able to deal with losing one of the most important people in my entire life in the blink of an eye.  While maybe I was strong enough I’m thinking I would have crumbled.  By having Dad give us all extra time I was able to better prepare, stay stronger, focus, and learn many lessons from this situation.  I still don’t like the outcome, but I’m glad Dad gave us one final gift, some extra time to prepare ourselves.  Thanks Dad!!!

Thanks!!!

 

Day 261 – Thankful for Talking with Dad

Day 261 – Thankful for Talking with Dad

Over the past 48 hours or so I’ve started doing something that I used to do every few days, but in a very different way.  I’ve been talking with Dad.  He hasn’t directly answered or talked back or anything, but I just have this gut feel that he’s hearing me and often times smiling or laughing from up above.

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When my grandpa passed away almost 30 years ago  my dad told me that he was going for a walk in the woods to spend some time with Grandpa and talk with him.  As a kid this sounded all types of weird, but in this gut feeling kind of way it seemed right.  He seemed to feel better afterwards and somehow I remembered that.

With Dad’s passing I’ve had a lot of time alone, most of it driving.  After taking a deep breath I started talking with Dad.  It felt really awkward on Monday night, driving home a few hours after he had taken his last breath.  I wasn’t quite sure what to say and I kind of struggled.  Then it started flowing a little bit, but then there was a torrent of emotions that tore through me.  Finally, after the “feels” were past I started to talk with him as normal.

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Yesterday morning it just felt right to talk with him while I drove up north.  The radio was off, no one was calling, and it was just my voice talking to him.  It felt natural.  I shared how things were going with the boys, how proud he would be of their understanding of his soul leaving last weekend (our very tough conversation with the boys on Saturday) as compared to his body finally stopping on Monday (“Dad, I’m not sad because that was just his body, an empty shell…  The important part of him was already gone.”).  I shared how much I appreciated the way Becky was taking care of me.  We talked about how cool it was for him to be back with his family.  It seemed right on a very deep level.

As I headed north into Thorpe there was a sign that said “BUMP” and I thought nothing of it and hit it going about 60.  Much to my surprise it was much deeper and sharper than expected and it jarred both me and the car.  I just started laughing, and without thinking for a second I looked towards the passenger seat and said, “Dad?  Seriously?  We’ve got to talk about this guardian angle stuff…  You really suck at it!”  I’m sure it was just in my head, but I know I heard him laughing and could see him in a full body laugh sitting next to me.  I laughed and just enjoyed the moment.

Further up the road I had this slight feeling to slow as I crested a hill so I touched the brake.  As I got to the top of the hill a deer slowly crossed in front of me.  “That was much better Dad!  Thanks for having my back like that!”  Again I could hear the laughter of my dad.

When I got home later last night Dominic was still awake so I asked him what was wrong.  He told me he was super sad about not being able to see Grandpa one last time.  We talked about memories of him, thinking of the happy stuff, but I just couldn’t quite help him feel better.  Feeling a slight spiritual tap on the shoulder and had an idea.  “Hey Bud, I started feeling a lot better when I started talking with Grandpa Pete.  Have you tried that yet?  It feels weird at first but it’s helped me a lot.”  I then told Dominic the story of the bump and the deer.  He smiled and went to bed.

About thirty minutes later he came back upstairs.  “Thanks Dad,” said Dominic.  When I asked why he was thankful he responded with, “I talked with Grandpa like you suggested and it really helped.”  He smiled.  I smiled.  We hugged, and he went to bed.

 

DSCN2427 2.jpgDad, I know that you’re not here physically, but thanks for always being close to me and ready to listen.  I’d really like to hear your voice and feedback, but knowing that you’re at least hearing me makes me feel much better.  Love you Dad!

Thanks!!!

 

Day 260 – Thankful for My Brother Being Alongside Me on This Journey

Dad’s been gone for less than 32 hours as I type this I’m still struggling to get used to this new version of life.  While I can’t pick up the phone and have our normal every few day conversations I’m finding that it’s very easy for me to still talk with him and feel his presence, just in a different way.

In this new “regular” I’ve got someone who’s side by side with me that understands almost exactly what I’m going through.  Everyone had a slightly different relationship with Dad.  He was a spouse, a brother, a friend, and a helper as he was known to others.  I could guess at how they are feeling, but it’s different than how I feel.  Not better, worse, harder or easier, just different.  Then we all have different family dynamics, support structures, and the like.  Except for one person who’s the son of Dad and has much of the same family…  My little brother Nick.

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Depending on the day and which of us you ask we’d tell you just how similar we are or how opposite of each other we are.  Regardless, we have many common traits.  We also have many strengths that offset the other’s weaknesses.  We also “get” each other and help to raise each other up when needed.

Losing Dad has absolutely sucked.  That said, there’ve been a handful of positives that have come from his passing.  One of them is that Nick and I are closer now than we’ve ever been before.  We’re helping each other more, talking more, and becoming better friends.  Our relationship has always been pretty solid, but it just keeps getting better.

As we worked through the planning details and whatnot we both hit the point that we needed to power down for a while.  We went out to the gravel pit and started looking for rocks.  This quickly escalated into throwing and breaking rocks, and then was a full on, two little boys playing in the mud event.  It was awesome.  We were giggling, giving each other a hard time, having fun, sharing stories, and enjoying the moment.  Even when a sandal was lost in 15-ish inches of quicksand we continued to have a blast before going back to reality.

 

After our does of reality was over we headed out to Stoney Pub for dinner (got the chimi for you Dad!) and a few beers before heading home.  Those two moments today were the first we’ve had for just the two of us in a very long time and it was exactly what we needed to keep working through the healing process together.

Knowing that I have Nick alongside me I know that we will both be alright.  Nick, thanks for being there to stand with me as we overcome the greatest challenge we’ve had as a family.  I couldn’t do it without you.

Thanks!!!

Day 259 – Thankful for 40+ Years with the Greatest Man I’ve Ever Known, My Dad

Dad passed away today.  My emotions range from joy for him being able to spend time with his parents, family, and friends already in heaven to the stinging sadness of realizing that I won’t be able to physically hug him again.  Just when I start to feel sad I remember that Dad’s in a place with all the wood he wants, free of charge, and in the greatest workshop ever. 🙂

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While I’ve struggled to think up the right things to write tonight I’m going to fall back on a beautiful Bruce Springsteen song that I’ve sang well over a dozen times today.  While the name of it is “Terry’s Song” it could have easily been “Pete’s Song.”  You can check it out here…

Well they built the Titanic to be one of a kind, but many ships have ruled the seas
They built the Eiffel Tower to stand alone, but they could build another if they please
Taj Mahal, the pyramids of Egypt, are unique I suppose
But when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

Now the world is filled with many wonders under the passing sun
And sometimes something comes along and you know it’s for sure the only one
The Mona Lisa, the David, the Sistine Chapel, Jesus, Mary, and Joe
And when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

When they built you, brother, they turned dust into gold
When they built you, brother, they broke the mold

They say you can’t take it with you, but I think that they’re wrong
‘Cause all I know is I woke up this morning, and something big was gone
Gone into that dark ether where you’re still young and hard and cold
Just like when they built you, brother, they broke the mold

Now your death is upon us and we’ll return your ashes to the earth
And I know you’ll take comfort in knowing you’ve been roundly blessed and cursed
But love is a power greater than death, just like the songs and stories told
And when she built you, brother, she broke the mold

That attitude’s a power stronger than death, alive and burning her stone cold
When they built you, brother

Dad is the greatest man I’ve ever known, he’s truly one of a kind.  I am so thankful to have spent 40+ years with him and I am honored to be able to call him Dad.

I love you Dad.

Thanks!!!

Day 258 – Thankful for the Time That I’ve Had with My Dad

I had the opportunity to talk with my dad’s previous pastor of three decades and change today.  While we were discussing how I was doing and what I was feeling he mentioned something that was terribly obvious, fitting, and surprising for me to miss…  “Be thankful for the time that you’ve had with him instead of wanting more.” 

Seriously, how did I miss that for a while?  Over the past 24 hours or so I’ve wanted more time with him.  I’ve wanted to create more memories with him.  I’ve wanted to learn more from him.  I’ve wanted more experiences with my family and him.  I’ve wanted and wanted and wanted.

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As I typed a couple of days ago, I have no regrets with my dad.  I know he loves me and is proud of me just as he knows I love him and am proud of him.  This is a great thing, but that doesn’t mean that all is well.  My desire for more has been a huge source of pain for me over the past week.

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Many months ago I mentioned that happiness is wanting what I have, not having what I want.  Pastor’s words are still sinking in and I’m very much struggling to live them, but he was 100% correct.  As opposed to wanting more time, more hugs, more experiences, and more memories with Dad, I need to stay focused on what I have.  When I consider what I have from Dad it blows my mind and I struggle with where to start.

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Dad gave me 40+ years of love, 14,686 spins around the Earth counting.  During each and every single one of those days I’ve known that he loves me and he’s proud of me. Each and every day I knew he was in my corner, one of my biggest fans and coaches, protecting me from everything that he could.

My values and outlook on life come from a combination of many people, and my dad was one of the biggest contributors to them.  He taught me to stay happy, positive, upbeat.  Following his example I learned the beauty of helping others when I can.  To give, give, and give more.  To make a gift of himself for the sake of helping others.

The love I have for the outdoors was fostered by his love of the outdoors.  Some of my favorite memories with him include hunting, trapping, cutting brush, and just walking outside.  He was always in awe of the natural world and would spend hours of time looking at rocks to see the beauty that God had created, the miracle it took for the rock to be where it was.

His hands were always creating.  Usually it was creating something with wood in his workshop, building houses, or helping people with projects.  It was through my experiences with him that I learned to enjoy the wonder that is creating something using my hands and God’s gifts.

As my father he showed me how to raise my children.  How to help build their work ethic.  How to appreciate and encourage their gifts.  How to push them to dream bigger and work harder.  How to show the love that he has for us.  Even as I talked with our boys last night I followed his lead.

In watching him smile and laugh I was given an appreciation for each day, each moment of life that God gives us.  This was reinforced through many conversations focused on reminding me to appreciate every single day.  He did his best to live by this credo and passed it on.

When I was struggling to find my way in college my dad wrote me a letter while he was in a hotel room for work.  If you know my dad you know what he was not someone who liked writing.  He struggled with it and wasn’t a fan (LOL – I just remembered that I also got my horrible penmanship from him!).  That said, he wrote me a letter that I still have saved that explained how much he loved me, how much he believed in me, how proud he was of me, and how he would always support me.  To this day that letter holds a very special place in my heart for two reasons.  The emotions it conveyed were incredible and helped to shape me.  The second part is that it almost read as one of my blog posts.  It was this letter from him that showed me just how you could help someone, touch someone, with words or a letter.  Taking the time to write about and for a person is an incredibly moving thing, both for the person writing and the person receiving the letter.  His letter to me opened my heart to this concept.

In writing the points above I’d be remiss to mention one of the best gifts he gave me – how to be an incredible dad.  I’m not patting myself on the back and saying that I am, it’s just that he showed me the path to fatherly greatness.  I had the best dad in the world, one who always loved me and will always love me.  Dad is nothing short of awesome, and he showed me how to share that awesomeness with my boys.  I’ll screw it up in some ways and that’s okay, just as I’ll find ways to learn from mistakes he made.  Regardless, he showed what being an excellent father really looks like.

While these words spill forth from my brain, heart, soul, and fingertips it’s funny how my attitude has already changed.  Of course I will always want more, who wouldn’t?  But when I can shut that off and really appreciate what I’ve had…  How can I do anything but smile, be happy, and be thankful to have so much?  I’ve had Dad around for so long, I’ve learned so much from him, been touched in so many ways by him, been molded into who I am by him, and have him help me mold my boys.  I am so thankful for my the time I’ve had with Dad.

Dad, I love you so much.  Thank you!

Thanks!!!

Day 257 – Thankful for Getting Away for the Day

Day 257 – Thankful for Getting Away for the Day

Today I just want to pull the covers over my eyes and be a little kid again.  I want my parents to wake me up in the morning.  I want to be oblivious to stress, bad news, and the outside world.  I want to hide from anything scary.  I want my dad to protect me from the boogie man.  I want my dad to be coaching me from the sidelines during a little league game, where my biggest concern is making the contact between bat and ball.  I want to be following in the footsteps of my dad in the snow as we go hunting.  I want to be frustrated with my dad for making me wake up early (at like 8am) on a Saturday to stack logs and clear brush.  I want my dad standing behind me, tussling my hair.  I want these things and so much more, so many of the things that makes being a kid being a kid.

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Today I am nowhere near the hospital, but Dad has been with me the entire time.  During the last pose of yoga I slipped into a beautiful state of flow and had a touching conversation with Dad.  As we loaded up and headed out to soccer I’ve told many stories involving Dad.  On the drive we saw an albino bird that looked like a dove flying alongside of us, and I thought of Dad.  At the soccer game as I saw Dominic hustle I knew Dad would be proud.  As Gavin climbed the tree I know it made my dad smile.  As the boys ran around chasing each other with squirt guns after the game (great call Becky!) I know he was giggling and would have loved to have jumped in.  As I type this while I take a quiet moment as everyone else is eating lunch I feel his presence with me.

The reason that I am not with Dad today is that I know he wants me to be with my family right now.  At first I thought it was for the boys and Becky, but something is helping me realize that it’s also for me.  I’m watching the boys play and have fun.  Dominic playing hard in his soccer game.  Gavin climbing a tree.  Both of them smiling and enjoying a squirt gun fight.  I’m watching the parents play with their kids, spending time with them, playing with the squirt guns and giggling like little kids.  It’s an oasis of happiness, of life, and of enjoying the moment.  As this is all going on there is no stress, no fear, no responsibility, just life being enjoyed.  This is the life that my dad wants me to live.

Several times today I’ve said that I just want to be a kid again.  I want the playfulness, the love of life, the complete disregard of anything serious.  But as I watch the boys play and enjoy the moment with them, as I am present with them, I know that I can be a kid again.  Some of the bad stuff can and will still happen, but it’s up to me to decide how I will take it.  In some cases I will have to man up and be an adult to do adulting, but, more often, I can choose to be a kid.  I can choose to play, stay happy, and stay upbeat.

My dad has always done such a great job of living life like a child, high energy, upbeat, positive, and happy.  He’s always been playful, joking, and inquisitive.  He loves life and it shows in his smile and attitude.  What he wanted me to see today was a reminder of that, a reminder of the life he wants me to lead, enjoying every moment of my life.  He led me to get away so I see this, I remember this, and I share this with my family.

Dad, I love you and am so thankful for the gift you’ve given me today.  I promise I will remember it and live it.

Thanks!!!