It feels very awkward as you try to sort through the thoughts and stages of grief after someone passes. I had sixteen hours in the car to work on mine. 

Dad, where do I start?

Let’s start at the end….or what I hope to be your brand new beginning. 

Our dad worked 38 1/2 years for the same company. Last month, after almost two years of talking about it, he decided to retire. He called me after he finished his last physical day of work and said he hadn’t slept that well in years. I know what an amazing feeling that must have been for him, the man didn’t sleep at night. 

Two years ago, he got a special gift, a grandson on his birthday. I’m so very grateful that my son will forever share that special day with his papa D and that my sister and I were able to give him four grandchildren that he knew and had the chance to love. 

Five years ago, he took turns walking my sister and I down the aisle. The year before, he was skeptical, but supportive, when I told him I was moving to Texas. 

Before that, my sister and I had first jobs, graduations, proms, first driving experiences, first boyfriends, soccer games, cheer practice, dance recitals, first days of school, first steps,and first words. Our dad was there. He was there for all of those things. 

Our dad was so many things to so many people, strangers included.  I remember one day, we were riding in his truck and we came to an intersection were a man’s car was stalled. Dad pulled into the nearest parking lot and got out and helped the man push his car. My 7 year-old self sat watching from behind the dash. When the car was moved out of the way and the man had more help, dad returned to the truck and got in. Once we started moving again, I asked my Dad, “Did you know that man?” 

Of course he didn’t. 

Confused by this, I followed up, 

“then why did you help him?”

His response? 

“Because one day, that could be you, and I would want someone to help you if I wasn’t there.”

Dad loved to laugh, he loved to make others laugh. 

Once, my dad said he was going to the store and asked if my sister and I wanted to go. Both Caitlyn and I said we did. I was downstairs waiting (if you ever went somewhere with dad, let’s be honest, you were going to be waiting) and here comes my sister skipping into the room wearing his  Beevis and Butthead T-shirt that went to her knees, with no pants,  water balloons stuffed into one of mom’s bras, a pair of reading glasses and a long stragley looking wig. I took one look at her and said, “you aren’t wearing that.” My sister looked immediately hurt and turned to my dad. 

“Dad, do I have to change?”

Dad, without skipping a beat said, “Nope, you don’t have to change.” 

One of the greatest things about our father is that although he is no longer with us, he will always live in spirit through the stories we all have. Everyone has witnessed him do something crazy ridiculous or they have seen him do something kind. I encourage you all to share those stories as much as you can, because it’s the laughter and smiles that will forever make him present.

And, I would just like to end by saying something that dad always told us. 

“Hey, it’s going to be okay.”