So, for Mother’s Day, my husband got me a beautiful Pandora charm in honor of my father. On Mother’s Day, I cried. At some point, every day, I cry. Just for a moment, but I do. I miss my Dad. Living four states away, I didn’t see him as often as I would like, but he was there. He was there to make me smile when I needed it, to pick me up when I fell and to love me unconditionally. He fought a 4 year battle with cancer with a grace that I have never seen and he always had a smile for you. He was my dad and I miss him terribly.
I have had a lot of time to think about him and the events that occurred right after his death. I am definitely spending some moments sitting in my sadness and others, I have been awe struck by the outpouring of support.
You spend your life loving and learning from your dad but you never take the time to see him through other people’s eyes. That week, I was able to do that and am so thankful I could. Man, did he leave us with so, so many blessings.
I always thought my dad was a great man. I knew he did a lot to help kids and others in our community. I knew I was a better person because I was raised by him. I knew he loved me. He worked hard and played harder. He taught the value of a day spent getting your hands dirty. He always made us laugh, and whistled so we didn’t lose him. He tried to win every claw machine animal for every kid he saw. There was always a bag in his trunk to put a smile on a child’s face. Man, he was so good at those games. Material items were not important to him. People’s happiness was.
He loved to fish. He fished in streams and lakes and ponds and oceans. He fished on land and boat and from the side of the road. He fished on Tuesday and Easter and Christmas. If there was water, he fished. He hunted for turkey and grouse and deer and whatever else he was allowed to. He loved the great outdoors.
He was hilarious. He was generous. He was kind and most of all he was humble. So humble that I didn’t know how much he did, how many people he touched, how many lives he made better. How could I know.? My father had a quiet faith and he lived his life the way God wanted. He put others first and even through his pain, he smiled, he laughed, he showed grace, he showed kindness and he made the lives of others better.
I learned, this man, my Dad, touched so many lives. As I stood by his casket, I was in awe at the number of people that came, the line out the funeral home door and down the block was just a part of the testimony to my father. There was so much more, the number of grown men shedding tears in his honor, the high school friends, the work friends, the fishing friends, the hunting friends, the church friends, the beer drinking friends, the card playing friends, the young kids, the college kids, the random guy on the street, the friends that seemed like family and of course, the family. So many stories, so many lives and so many people. So, so many. Each one, touched in some way by my Dad. Each one sharing their story with us. Each one paying their final respects to a man that made a difference in their corner of the world.
As I said, I grew up thinking my Dad was a great man, but every little girl does. What I know, now, is that he was a great man who through his quiet faith, walked with God. He lived not only for his family but for others, he lived the way God wants us to live. He left a mark on this world. He left a piece of him with everyone he came in contact with. He left behind a legacy and a reminder that through kindness and generosity, we can make this world a better place. It only takes one small act of kindness to start a wave and I only pray his keeps rolling on.
Over two days, well over 350 people came to pay their respects. I didn’t even know my dad knew that many people. But they came and they cried and the laughed and they shared. They shared funny stories, crazy stories (maybe that’s where I get it from) and sweet stories. They shared stories of my fathers compassion and kindness. The shared amazing moments that my dad was to humble to boost about. They came and they shared and they helped us heal.
I just never knew how far his reach was. So many lives touched. In addition to those that came, the outpouring of support for my mom and our family through flowers and food and cards and hugs was amazing. When my father passed, he knew we would be taken care of by those he helped along they way and they did not disappoint. I can hear him say “Told you so kiddo, kindness always comes back to you.” We have been blessed beyond measure and there is no way to express our gratitude.
Today, I know, my dad left this world a better place. Through his legacy of kindness, he left behind so many people to care for us in our time of need. I only hope that someday, I can do the same. Someday, I will see him again, I will hug him again, I will fish with him again, we will clink beers and laugh about the good old days. I will tell him I wished I knew this all when he was with us, but then again…maybe, just maybe, he planned it this way. He was a sneaky guy. I guess I am not meant to know, so for now, I will miss him and be at peace knowing that he is with our Heavenly Father watching over us and smiling knowing, we will be okay.
It was nearly 7 weeks ago that we said goodbye. 7 long, hard weeks. I’m not sure you ever get over it. One minute you‘re happy and the next you’re broken. Just last week, I was driving to work and saw something. I picked up my phone to call him but…. so I sat in my car on the side of the road and cried. I cried because I missed him. I cried because he would not answer that phone. I cried because I don’t have a Dad. I don’t know when this stops but I know that I must go on.
I know that I want to be a better person. I want to make him proud. I want to see his smile and hear his laugh. I know that I will get that chance one day but for now I’ll work on picking up the peices and finding my sparkle. I’m pretty sure he had to leave a flashlight in one his tackle boxes, because he fished at night.
So, in his honor, we will be kind and will try to walk in his shoes and one day, we will leave this world a better place. Life is hard. This was the hardest. Rest In Peace Daddy! I love you. I’ll see you someday, but until then, in the midst of chaos sparkle. Don’t let life dull your shine.
The Manicured Mom