DAD

On behalf of my brother and I, I want to thank each and every one of you who came out to celebrate our dad. You all know he’s bummed he missing the party... 

I could introduce myself but if you knew my dad then chances are you know everything there is to know about me and my brother. Birth weight, Zach’s little league batting average, the time I scored off a corner kick TWICE in the same game, how he somehow convinced himself that I’m friends with Best Buy’s CEO or how smart his Masters-degree-medical-professional son is. 

If he were here, he would have greeted each of you with a slap on the back and a bear hug, while making some sort of wise crack. 

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The relationship between a father and daughter is a sacred thing. My dad and I have always been close. Same goes for him and Zach. Every morning before he would leave for work, he’d sneak into our rooms, kiss us on the cheek and whisper “Daddy loves you” in our ear. Every year on Valentine’s Day, he’d embarrass me by showing up at school to give me roses in front of my entire class and whenever I would bring boyfriends around, he’d whip out a naked baby picture and ask them if they knew about my "checkered past.” 

There were a few summers that he and Zach worked together at United Glass. He was filled with pride when the guys would say Zach was a spitting image of him. In recent years whenever we’d be out to lunch he’d always get the cute waitress’s attention, point to Zach and say “Ya know, I used to look JUST like him...” 

He sure was handsome. My all time favorite story of his was when he first met my mom. He’d say "First time I met your mom, I knew I was going to marry her. She was dating a buddy of mine at the time but I was better looking and made her laugh." 

He was more than his looks though. He was kind and patient. He had a huge heart and a sense of humor that goes unmatched. Zach has a great laugh; an uncontrollable one. His face turns red, shoulders start to shake and he puts his hand up to his face to wipe the tears. I think that was one of dad’s favorite things, making Zach laugh.

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People used to stop our dad and ask for his autograph because they thought he was Jesse Ventura (circa 1999). He may have looked tough but he was a big softy. All I had to do was sign a card “your little girl” and he’d be a complete puddle. 

Our dad was a proud son. He loved both his parents very much and same goes for his step-parents. He’d brag about how active our Grandpa is, he'd laugh about the time Grandpa called him a wimp because our dad used a wood splitter when they chopped wood together. Ok, maybe he didn’t use the word “wimp” but you get the point...

My dad was a simple man. And by that I mean he didn’t need much to be happy. He had his kids, his motorcycle, Saturday SportTalk on 1500 AM KSTP and his music. Man, did he love his music. 

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That’s something we really bonded over. One of my favorite memories is from last summer. I drove up to spend the day with him and we cruised the country roads with all the windows down and the Eagles blaring through the speakers. The car was shaking it was so loud. We both sat there with our arm out the window - so content, so happy. We looked over at one another and just smirked. Life was good. 

Dad would always text us songs to download. Every time he did, I’d put it on my “Dad” playlist - there are over 70 songs on there, everything from Little Miss Magic by Jimmy Buffett to Clapton, Zeppelin, Leonard Cohen, The Stones, Bobby Bare, Fleetwood Mac, and the Eagles, of course...I could go on and on. That playlist is now one of my most prized possession. That and his record collection, the mix-tapes he made in high school and his wedding band. 

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He would always say “you and your brother won’t be able to comprehend how much I love you until you have kids of your own.” And when I say “always” I mean ALLLWAYS. Like ok Dad, we get it, you want grandkids.  

The Friday night before he passed, I was sitting on the porch with my two uncles, two uncles who considered my dad their brother. It was late and we were taking turns playing our favorite songs when my Uncle Jeff goes, “let’s play a game, if Brad were here, what song would he play?” And while my Uncle Pat INSISTED that he’d play Redneck Mother by Jerry Jeff Walker, I knew he’d play Soulshine by The Allman Brothers Band. Soulshine is one of the last songs he told us to download. A song I think he really believed in. 

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We are completely devastated that he went on ahead so soon and so suddenly. But both my brother and I were overwhelmed with peace shortly after receiving the news because we both knew our dad loved Jesus. We know we’ll see him again and are looking forward to our reunion in heaven. 

It’s said that no one is old in heaven. That you’re your best, most able self. I picture my dad in heaven happy...big...strong...able. Walking straight up, tall...big smirk on his face, full head of hair and that dark tan of his. Pretty much exactly how he looked when he landed our mom. 

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The reality of the situation is that my dad was here one day and gone the next. Just like that. It’s a heavy concept to wrap our heads around and a weird sentence to write. Its harsh reality really freaking sucks and amplifies just how little control we have in this life.

James 4:13-14 says “Now listen, you who say “Tomorrow I will do this or that” when you don’t even know what tomorrow brings. What is your life but a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.”

So, so true.

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His passing makes me want to take more risks, love harder, show up bigger, leave nothing unsaid, live fully and selflessly; live like a mist. My prayer for you is that you have the wisdom and awareness to cherish every second with the ones you love. May you make time for what really matters, may you snap out of autopilot and be fully present to the gift of today. May you leave it all out on the field. May you live and love like my dad did. 

I want to thank each and every one of you who has supported me and my family over that last several days. Thank you to all who stocked our fridges and cut our grass. Those who sent flowers and showed up when I asked you not to. Thank you for continuing to check in even when I left your texts unanswered. Thank you for your strength when we had none. We really needed you. Still do.

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Dad, thank you for loving us. Thank you for always guiding us. Thank you for all of your sacrifices. We know it took a lot of selflessness to love us so deeply. 

But most of all — thank you for showing us how to love unconditionally. Thank you for making us who we are today. You have made us stronger, softer, wiser. We are so very proud to call you ours. 

Daddy, you left us too soon. We will love you forever. Keep your hand on us, we’ll be seeing you. 

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