Saturday morning my dad finally got an answer to his prayers: He went to be with the Lord.
In his honor, I'm reposting this letter I wrote to him here a few years ago...
All of my life, you've been right here, holding my hand - loose when I needed loose, tight when I needed tight - but never letting go.
I disappointed you at times over the years (Oh, yes I did and you know it!) but you never stopped believing in me, never stopped wanting the best for me or wanting me to be the best I could be.
You believed in me even when I stopped believing in myself.
You taught me what unconditional love really means. Even when I knew I had disappointed you...
(Remember when I hit that parked truck with my brand new Toyota Celica, my graduation present from you and Mama? Remember when I decided to flush my scholarship down the drain and drop out of college to work in a chemical plant?)
...I never once, not once, doubted your love.
You never said a word, never chewed me out for being stupid and irresponsible (even though I deserved it) but just kept holding my hand, offering whatever help and support I would accept.
Like you, I love reading, watching a good Western, history, traveling, kitschy tourist spots, pecans, rocks, and sweating in the sun. I inherited your silliness, impulsiveness, teasing/mean streak, and flash-fire temper.
I hope I also inherited your generosity, loyalty, and tenderness.
With Mama, you raised me to be confident, courageous and independent, willing to test myself, push myself, try new things, truly believing I could do anything I wanted to do because you believed it.
You raised me the same as you raised the boys, with no discernible difference related to gender. No matter what I did, or still do, your pride is palpable. It's a fuel that keeps me chasing my old dreams and discovering new ones.
Memories tied to you are the treasure of my life...
...Thank you for my sunflower garden, my orange and green painted bedroom, introducing me to ping-pong, Black Beauty, Leon Uris, James Michener and National Geographic.
Thank you for taking beginner square dance lessons with me and letting me chop down that tree when I was sixteen.
Thanks for teaching me to drive, to play tennis, and for trying to teach me to bowl and play golf. Thanks for shuttling me and my friends to the movies and basketball tournaments, and for finding some of them jobs at your chemical plant.
You never thought you were special - you still don't - but let me assure you, you are, and I thank God every day for making you my Daddy and giving me (and now my kids) so much time here on Earth with you.
I look forward to the day I again feel your hug and see the twinkle in your eye, but for now, I carry them in my heart.
Rest in peace, dear Daddy. You deserve it.
I love you.
He didn't tell me how to live; he lived, and let me watch him do it.
~Clarence Budington Kelland
Sometimes the poorest man leaves his children the richest inheritance.
~Ruth E. Renkel
I love my father as the stars — he's a bright shining example and a happy twinkling in my heart.
Thank you all for the many prayers you've offered for him and my family this past year. Now please continue to keep my mom in your prayers as she faces life without him by her side after almost 64 years together.
I'm grateful I've been able to spend so much time with Daddy this past year, even if a lot of it was in ERs, hospital rooms, and doctor's offices.
I'm especially grateful that I was able to tell him I love him (and hear him say it back to me) on the telephone Friday.
Don't ever take the time you have with loved ones for granted or miss a chance to say "I love you!"
Old as she was, she still missed her daddy sometimes. ~Gloria Naylor