Do you remember where you were 19 years ago today?
I do. And it is a day that I will never forget. It was November 28th, 1992 and it was just two days after Thanksgiving. What started out as a normal Saturday eventually ended as a very life changing day. That day became the day that my Dad passed away. He died suddenly of a heart attack at 32 years of age. I was 13, my brother was 10 and my Mom was 33. And our lives and many others were forever changed.
As much as this day and this time of the year pains me, I make a conscious effort to not let that day overshadow all of the great memories I have of my Dad. Today I choose to celebrate my Dad and the time that I had with him. And to keep his memory alive, I am going to share some of my favorite memories and stories of him with you.
My Dad was a guys guy. He loved sports, cars, hunting, fishing, country music, and beer. And above all, he loved his family. I have had many family members mention that he was the glue that held everyone together.
My Dad was the oldest of his siblings and perhaps due to being the oldest he had a very protective nature about him. My Uncle Greg said that when he went hunting with my Dad, my Dad would always make sure that he was in a safe spot where my Dad could see him at all times. My Uncle Greg said that my Dad always made him feel safe when he was around. I know I certainly felt safe and secure when I was with my Dad.
Although my Dad was the protective one in the family, he was also highly competitive, especially when it came to sports. My Uncle Ray told me a story about a basketball game when he was in the 7th grade and my Dad was in the 8th grade. The 7th graders played their game first and my Uncle Ray scored 22 points. Not to be outdone, when my Dad played he scored 23 points! Let’s just say no one let my Uncle Ray live that down!
My Dad’s love of sports got him into trouble at times when he was younger. My Grandma did not want him to play football because she felt it was too dangerous. One day my Dad came home from school complaining of chest pains and was having difficulty breathing. After a trip to the emergency room determined that there was nothing physically wrong with my Dad, my Dad fessed up and told my Grandma that he was playing football behind her back and he was worried that she would find out. She eventually decided to let him play once she realized how important it was to him. I guess I get my persistence from my Dad!
Throughout his life my Dad had many “toys.” From cars to motorcycles to snowmobiles. But perhaps the one that he loved the most was his boat. We went out on the boat all of the time. Most of the time we spent on the boat was spent fishing. I remember being squeamish about touching the worms and the fish that I caught, so my Dad would always do that part for me. It was very calming being out on the water surrounded by the people I loved.
As you might imagine, my love of country music came from my Dad. I have fond memories of waking up in the morning to the sound of country music playing on the radio. My Dad was a huge Garth Brooks fan. He owned every tape that Garth made. I am thankful that just listening to a Garth song can automatically make me feel reconnected with my Dad. Music certainly has the power to take me back to a simpler time and for that I am grateful.
I am grateful for many things about my time with my Dad. But most importantly I am grateful I got to experience those 13 years with him. It would be easy for me to dwell on the experiences that I didn’t get to have with him. Afterall , most of my friends got to have their Dad walk them down the aisle on their wedding day and introduce their child to their Grandpa. But dwelling on what could have been will not bring my Dad back and living anything but a full life would not do my Dad’s memory any justice. So to honor my Dad, I choose to live. And not just live, but to experience a happy and full life. I am not perfect in my quest. But I do my best to remember that life is short and that we only get one chance to live it. I try to always be grateful for the time that I have with my loved ones and most importantly I try to tell those who are close to me how much I love them and how much I care about them. And for that, I think my Dad would be proud!
If you were lucky enough to know my Dad, I would love for you to share your favorite memory of him!