Ever since I started blogging, I knew this day would come. The day I’d have to share heartbreaking news and somehow sum up a life well lived and a heart full of love in mere paragraphs. Now that it’s here, I know that’s impossible.
My lovely, fun, witty, handsome, generous, loving father passed away peacefully last Wednesday. And over the past couple weeks, I’ve been completely overwhelmed. By a lot of things, honestly, but mostly by love and thanks. For the time I spent learning from and laughing with him. For the memories that others have shared with me. For the friendship and support people have shown my brother and my mom. And the list goes on and on…
In honor of my dad, I wanted to share a letter I wrote him on his birthday a few years ago. (If you haven’t seen Father of the Bride—one of our family favorites—a) how are we friends?, and b) you may not get some of the references.)
Throughout my life, there have been many occasions for you to write me heartfelt letters. But somehow I’m pretty sure I’ve never returned the favor. Until now. On your birthday, I want you to know how much I respect, admire and love you.
To steal a couple lines from a favorite, “You fathers will understand. You have a little girl. An adorable little girl who looks up to you and adores you in ways you could never have imagined…she said I was her hero.” Well, Steve Martin goes on to talk about how things change. And though it’s true, life’s been filled with twists and turns, one thing hasn’t changed. I still look up to you—my hero—and adore you in ways you can never imagine. You’ve taught me how to love, to laugh and so much more. Here are just a few of life’s lessons I’ve learned thanks to you.
Lesson #1: Find humor in every situation. I don’t think many families spend nearly as much time laughing together as we do. Sure, there’s the obvious fun: vacations (with smoking seat belts, no less!), hootenannies, eating chocolate chip cookie dough, etc. But somehow you taught us to see the humor in the every day—even on not-so-funny days. A simple family dinner ends up being negative calories half the time because of how funny each and every story becomes. Tense moments are quickly diffused with a witty comment or inside joke. When I think of you, I can’t help but smile. And when I talk to you, I can’t help but laugh.
Lesson #2: Enjoy every meal as if it’s the best ever. Your positive attitude has been such a shining example of how to approach life. You always see the good in people and appreciate all that life has to offer.
Lesson #3: End each day with a beer and a chocolate chip cookie. You’re such a hard worker, but you also reward yourself. Whether you went for a 3-mile jog (and pushed my bike all the way up the steepest hills), played tennis for hours or drove half of California during the day, the night was time to relax and enjoy the fruits of your labor. As were our yearly family vacations. That balance and respect for yourself is a very admirable trait.
Lesson #4: Don’t just listen to people, hear them. It’s no surprise friends flock to you. Not only are you charming, you truly care about other people and what they have to say. Because you listen and respond with your witty sense of humor and positive attitude, people can’t help but love you. You are a loyal, compassionate and true friend.
Lesson #5: You gotta believe. From religion to people to politics, you are a true believer in the things that are important to you. You have a pure, unwavering faith that can’t be defined in a word or limited by a church. Your quiet peacefulness in hard times shows that there’s a stronger force guiding you through life. You’ve also always believed in our family—as individuals and a whole. You’ve encouraged us to be our best and cheered us all along the way. You’re also true red, white and blue. A patriot and a believer in all that our country is and can be.
Lesson #6: Generosity is huge. You have a big heart and you’ve always done all you can to give us not only what we need, but what we want. You never ask us to get the ‘chipper chicken’—even when we probably should. You’ve shared all you have with us to show us the finer things in life.
Lesson #7: Family comes first. In the good times and the bad, you’re there to support and love family through it all. You have a wonderful sense of tradition that brings us together over and over. From the holiday tree lighting to monkey bread to grace at dinnertime, there are things I can always count on to feel like a part of something special. I often think about the collages you made for Grandmom to remind her of her blessings of love and family as she was passing. It was a beautiful example of how proud you are of the people you love and that family really is what matters most. I also think of the way you love and cherish Big. You’re as thrilled by every little thing that he does as I am, and you share in my joy. You make him as happy as you make me, and for that I thank you.
So what I’m saying is I pretty much have the greatest father on the planet. I love you and am blessed to call you my dad!