I’m missing my Dad today. It’s his birthday and he would have been 80. Since my birthday is also this month, Dad and I used to celebrate our birthdays together in family gatherings that eventually included adding my middle daughter Jen, whose birthday is in April. We are the only ones with spring birthdays; everyone else in the extended families have birthdays in January, and summer and fall months.
My Dad, my Hero.
My Dad passed away at the age of 69, on September 2, 2002, to the insidious disease of lymphoma. He had been married to my Mom for over 45 years at the time, had raised four children, and eventually welcomed our spouses along with 11 grandchildren into the family.
He was a kind, compassionate, unselfish man who put his God, his wife, his family, and his church family and friends ahead of himself and his needs and wants. He didn’t just “talk the talk” of a Christian – he “walked the walk” and powerfully demonstrated the love of God to all who knew him. He was well-known for his bear hugs and his unconditional love.
There was standing room only at his memorial service. My sisters and I struggled through singing one of his favorite songs at the service, and various family members shared fond memories of him. Many friends also shared – or attempted to share, as even grown men broke down crying, talking about the influence of this great man of God, whom I’m proud to call my Dad.
Last June, in time for Father’s Day, God put it on my heart to write a book in Dad’s honor, as a tribute to him and to fatherhood in general. Many family members and friends contributed to it discussing favorite memories and lessons learned, and a few other people also contributed stories of their own fathers. My twin nieces contributed many of their amazing artwork, a talent they attribute to having learned from their Grampy.
The compilation is called Fatherly Reflections, available at Amazon in both ebook and print format (only $2.99 and $5.99, respectively).
The cover represents many fond memories. The silhouetted images are my Dad and my oldest daughter, Shara, on one of their many camping trips, which always included fishing; my Mom took this picture at dusk that particular evening. The background sunset picture was taken by my sister Kris at Gilford Beach in Gilford, New Hampshire, the site of many family beach days and cookouts. My son Andy created the cover and added his own artistic flair.
I love what Shara said about that event pictured on the cover; her words are also featured on the back cover:
“Grampy and I sat there for a good two hours, with our lines cast, anticipating the first nibble of some unsuspecting fish.
We didn’t talk; we didn’t have to.
The thoughts in our minds were too great, yet too simple for words.
This was our special place, a place where we didn’t have to talk to communicate, where people weren’t bothering us, where we could just sit and bask in the simplicity of it all.”
Even writing this blog post brings tears and overwhelming emotions. I was blessed to have a very close “Daddy-daughter” relationship with this wonderful man and I miss him terribly. There are days, such as today, when I could really use one of his great bear hugs and long to hear his reassuring voice.
If you have never listened to Justin Moore’s song, If Heaven Wasn’t So Far Away … well, it describes how we all feel, who knew and loved my Dad.
How about you? Do you have someone you’re missing today and everyday since he or she has been gone?