I spoke at my dad's funeral. Well, I tried, at least. I got up there with all of these thoughts in my head, but when the words started coming out, everything was garbled. I didn't say everything I wanted to say. It was all so overwhelming. So on this Father's Day, I want to share with you all some things about my dad.
I want to start with a story. This is one of my favorite childhood memories. You see, I was a total Daddy's girl. There wasn't anything my dad wouldn't do for me. One night shortly before Christmas when I was maybe 8 or 9 years old, we were out at the toy store. I saw a Cabbage Patch Kid named Janeva LeeAnn, and I just had to have her. I begged and pleaded with my dad to buy her for me, but he said that Christmas was coming, and I would get plenty then. I'm sure I left the store in tears. When we got home, my dad told my mom he had to run out for a bit. I knew exactly where he was going. He was going back to the store to get Janeva LeeAnn for me. I even wrote it in my diary. On Christmas morning after I opened that special gift from him, I was so excited to show my dad what I wrote in my diary. I just KNEW my dad wouldn't let me down.
He never let me down. He was always there for me. Every dance recital and every softball game, he was there. He took us on vacations every summer and rode all of the roller coasters with my brother and me. He always said yes when my mom said no.
My dad was always so proud of me. From the moment he held me in the hospital, he was proud. I lived my life to make him proud, too. When I thought I couldn't do something, if my dad wasn't around, I always imagined him there, cheering me on. I wanted to excel in school so I could see the pride in his eyes when he saw my report card. I wanted to hit that home run so I could hear him cheer me around the bases. When I was at basic training and got discouraged because I didn't think I could complete the run in the required time, I envisioned my dad at the finish line, ready to give me a high five. Guess what? Not only did I complete the run in the required time, I ran it fast enough to give me the points I needed to finish basic training as an honor grad. I did it all for him.
I think one of the proudest moments of his life was when he walked me down the aisle at my wedding. He had a smile from ear to ear. He once told me "whatever happens to me, I know you will be OK." He was proud of my career success, and the home and family I was building. I saw that smile again and again on the days my children were born. A few months ago he told me what a great mom I am, and that is all I needed to hear to know I was doing a good job.
My dad was a very considerate man. He was always willing to help others. He would loan the neighbors tools and help them fix things. He would help my mom's single friends buy cars and perform maintenance on them. If someone needed something, my dad was always there to help.
Not only was my dad a good dad to my brother and me, he also treated my husband like a son. They bonded quickly over their need for speed and fast cars. They spent time together going to car races. I would hear Brian talking on the phone and when he would hang up and I asked him who he was talking to, he would say "your dad". He would call just to talk to Brian sometimes. He was always willing to help us with things around the house, and often was upset that his disabilities prevented him from doing more.
My dad was the best grandfather ever! He loved my kids more than anything! He loved playing with them and watching them grow up. He loved listening to Rylie's songs, and enjoyed reading books to her. He couldn't wait for them to get older so he could do more with them. He was looking forward to taking them for rides in his fast car...he couldn't wait!
That is one of the hardest parts of all of this. My kids won't get to grow up with their Papa. Rylie will have faint memories of him, I'm sure, but Bryce won't remember him at all. My dad and Rylie had a bond that may have even been stronger than the bond we had. He would always tell my mom "if something happens to me, please don't ever let Rylie forget me." And we won't. We still talk about Papa all the time, and we will continue to do so. Rylie has an angel now.
For those of you that are fortunate enough to spend this Father's Day with your dads, give him an extra hug today. I would do anything to hug my dad just one more time.
Happy Father's Day Dad. I love you more than words can express, and I miss you terribly.
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