This past month, my mind has been a mess of memories, thoughts, and feelings. I feel like I am in sensory overload. Three years ago today, my dad passed away and I can still remember every day he spent in the hospital, his last month with us. I wonder if that will ever go away or if will just fade into the back of my memories.
The day that he passed away, I made myself a little note on my phone, just moments after. It seems like an odd thing to do, but it was important to me to do at the time. And now, it’s one of the few things I have left on my phone from that very moment. It simply reads….
1:53pm 12/04/10 Goodbye Daddy… I love you so much and can’t believe you’re gone. My heart is broken.
And even still, as heartbreaking as that moment was, there was no where else I ever could have been. I needed to be there, with my family, holding his hand.
I think of my dad every single day, sometimes many times a day. A song, a movie, a memory, wanting or needing to talk to him, a meal…. Or it could be my wonder in seeing my niece and nephews and knowing that he would be amazed at how much they’ve grown. It could be anything. We talked about him on Thanksgiving, laughing about what he would be doing if he were there with us, sharing memories that we as a family have of him. The holidays will never be the same without him, as hard as I try. I have our Christmas tree up and it’s beautiful. I am hoping that the spirit he enjoyed at this time of year will somehow find it’s way to me this month.
If I could sit with him just one more time and talk with him, I often wonder what I would say. I need help solving some problems and more than ever need his guidance, but that seems selfish. I could share my excitement with him about losing weight. Or how proud I am of myself for running half marathons, something he never knew I could do. I could tell him about our crazy dogs – he knew Blue, but he never got to meet Ozzie and we’re sure they would be best buddies. We could share a favorite meal and a bottle of ice cold Peroni beer, his with a straw in it, his preferred way to drink it. Or we could listen to his favorite Big Band music….
But mostly, what I think I would say to him is how very much he is missed and how his life left such an impression on this family – his family – that anyone who knew him could easily see. I would tell him how different life is without him here to guide us along. I would share with him how he is with me everywhere I go and that we watch the sunset at Crystal Beach every month in honor of him. And most of all, I would tell him how very much I love him, how very much I miss him, and how he will always be my hero.
Today, my dad would be 80 years old. This is almost hard to fathom. He was 77 when he passed, and his last year was probably the slowest and worn down I had ever seen him in my whole life. Growing up, I never thought my dad looked his age. He had a youthful appearance that I attribute to being so active and always on the go, despite that wheelchair he sat in for 55 years.
My dad was fiercely loyal and faithful. He had a silly side. He was very set in his ways and felt strongly in the things he believed in. He was the epitome of a family man and wanted nothing more than to be with his family. He was always determined to take care of us and would do everything in his power to do just that. He was strong, had an amazingly big heart, and would cry at sad movies. He was my hero.
This is the third birthday of his that we have celebrated without him. And like every other day, I will think about him, and miss him, and wish that he were still here.
He is still very much a part of our lives. We talk about him often and I am convinced that I have turned into him with his little quirks, such as constant note-taking and list-making at work. I used to tease for making notes to read his notes and when he would re-write all his notes. I do the same thing now and it makes me smile every time.
We go to Crystal Beach every single month on the 4th, and will be there tonight (please don’t rain!). It’s slightly ironic that he passed away on the 4th of December and his birthday is on the 4th. Every single month my mom and I go up there for sunset. We’ve only been rained out once. It gets more and more beautiful every month and it’s very comforting to be there, knowing how much he enjoyed it.
So today, on your 80th birthday, Daddy, I hope you have one heck of get-together up in heaven with our other loved ones. You are in good company up there. We will be thinking about you. I hope you know how much we all still miss you.
Happy birthday, Daddy…. I love you very much.
It’s impossible to pick just one photo of my dad to share today, so I picked a handful…
Two years ago today, at 1:53pm, we said goodbye to Daddy. There isn’t a day that passes that I don’t think of him and wish he were still here with us.
After four weeks in the hospital, the last two in ICU, we had to make a very difficult decision to let him go. While it was very hard to so, I still believe it was the right decision. How quickly he passed was proof of that.
Two weeks after his passing, I made a memory book that I still look at often. I took all the beach photos in it – this is the true meaning of the sunset pictures I post every month on the 4th. I thought today would be a good day to share it again. For my dear family and friends, this will be a reminder of those special days. For those of you who didn’t know him, this is a small glimpse into the love that my family had for the most amazing man and father ever.
Today we will go to Crystal Beach for sunset and to Ozona Pig for dinner, just as we did the day he passed away. These were two of his favorite places to go and it is just one of the many ways I keep his memory alive.
I love you Daddy, and I miss you always. You are my hero, my guardian angel, always just a thought away…
We are 2 months shy of 2 years since you passed. I don’t know how that is possible.
Tonight will be 23 months of sunsets at Crystal Beach, including the very first one we watched as a family, just hours after we said goodbye to you.
Every sunset is unique and beautiful in it’s own way and I know that you have something to do with that.
Every sunset is a representation of you, of an amazing life that left us, on a beautiful, cold winter day. The most amazing of all sunsets was the day we said goodbye. It was breathtaking.
I think of you – and miss you – every single day. My heart will always be filled with love for you, the best Daddy ever.
One of many beautiful sunsets, this one was on August 4th, 2012.
I can’t believe another Father’s Day is here, the second since we said goodbye to Daddy. It seems that time is passing so quickly. Last year on Father’s Day, I bought a card for Daddy. I did the same this year. It doesn’t matter that he isn’t here… It is important to me that he is honored on such an important day, one that recognizes the amazing man that he was. Just because he isn’t here, doesn’t mean I can’t thank him for everything he was - and is - to me, and for everything he did for me. It wouldn’t seem right.
This morning, we went to Bay Pines VA to place flowers by Daddy’s memorial. It is always overwhelming to see his name there. I believe he is everywhere, but seeing his name there always make it seem even more real that he is gone.
I’ve always thought that my dad was an incredible man. He was injured and in a wheelchair before he married my mom and before I was born. I never knew him any other way. The wheelchair never mattered, though, and it certainly never affected his ability to be a good father. He did everything he could to take care of his family. If anything, the wheelchair he sat in for 55 years made him work harder. I would often say that he did more from that wheelchair than many people did up on their feet. And that is the truth.
When you spend 12+ hours a day in the hospital with your dad over the last four weeks of his life (whether you realize it or not at the time), you do a lot of thinking. The 38 years and 8 months I had with him seemed much too short. I am fortunate that there were not things left unsaid and that we were very close up until the last time we spoke. If I was unable to say that, I would be even sadder. To be able to say goodbye to him and know that all was good between us was very important to me. He knew how much we all loved him. That I am sure of.
Happy Father’s Day, Daddy. You may not be here with us physically, but your presence is obvious in my world every day. You always were, and still are, a great influence on me and my life. I like to think I am a strong and determined person because of both you and Mommy. You will be with us today as we celebrate as a family. I miss you every single day, and even more so on these days we would have spent together as a family. You were the best father in the whole world. I love you and miss you so very much.
I’d like to think, I’ll always be Daddy’s little girl…
A very proud Daddy, with Mommy, Mike, and me in 2003
Our last family portrait taken in 2007
My all-time favorite photo of Daddy and I, April 2007