Wednesday, February 25, 2015

My Dad

This blog has served as my "memory book" for over six years, and not once did it cross my mind that I'd one day have to write about the death of a parent.  On Saturday, December 20, my dad passed away unexpectedly. 

It has been two months, and I admit -- I'm still somewhat in a state of disbelief. The week it happened was a blur. I felt like I was having a complete out-of-body experience as I watched everyone around me process it in their own ways. I was quick to assure everyone that I was okay.  And I really was, because to me, there was no way my hilarious, always laughing, always joking dad who we were JUST WITH for Morgan's birthday, was gone.  Sure, I'd had tiny, sporadic moments of reality at night (they were always at night), but when the sun rose, it felt like a dream again.

Gradually and naturally, it is becoming a reality, though -- a heartbreak that is indescribable, and a reality I'm still not sure how to process. But along with it, I have become so grateful for time I had with my dad, and for the love he had for my sisters and me.

Anyone who knew knew my dad knows the he LOVED HIS GIRLS.

But no one knew that more than my sisters and me. Our Dad loved us like crazy, and even occasionally showed his crazy. 

This picture of my baby sister and her boyfriend at the time (now husband) is a perfect display of it.

And Dad made sure we knew we were loved. He would call and leave me crazy voice messages about how I never answer my phone (he knew me well), but he always started his messages with "Hey, baby" and ended them with "Love you." Every single message. In fact, I still have over 20 of them on my phone.

And boy, did a new type of love come when I had M -- and when my oldest little sister had her baby boy. He loved his grandbabies

Up in a jungle gym entertaining his "itty bitty."

I took these pictures one day he and my stepmom drove to Birmingham to spend some time with M. I'm so glad I did.  She will always have these, and she can always see how much he loved her.

And many times we'd go to Atlanta, he and my stepmom would keep M while DK and I would go do grownup stuff with friends.

And he loved every minute of it. 

It reminds me so much of my time with him as a child -- summers and holidays.

I would joke with him that now that Morgan was here, he didn't care if he spent time with me - ha! He would be very quick to correct me and tell me that he still gets giddy when he's getting ready to see his "first born," as he always called me.

My dad's memorial service was PERFECT. You're not supposed to cry at these things. While that's much easier said than done, I laughed soooooo much as well. So many people got up and talked about how my dad had an impact on them. Everyone talked about his jokes (he was always crackin'), but they also talked about how he showed a much tender side of himself -- like always offering his home to family/friends who needed it, and always bragging about his girls. It showed me that my dad was a lot of things to a lot of people, and I could not have been more proud. I left my dad's service feeling a sense of peace and love, and I am so grateful to the many family and friends who were kind enough to get up and share their love for Dad. 

I am also grateful to the family and friends of mine who called, texted, dropped everything to be with me, sent cards, traveled with me to Atlanta those days, checked in on me often, attended the memorial service, etc. and made sure that I knew they were there if I needed it. You guys have NO CLUE how grateful I am for that. I needed it, and I didn't even know it.

Today, while I'm heartbroken and probably will be for a long time, I'm also just THANKFUL. I had 32 years with my dad --  many people don't get that. And in those 32 years, my dad loved me and told me OFTEN how proud of me he was. He gave me two beautiful sisters and a sweet stepmom.

My daughter got a chance to know her Big Daddy, and is at an age where she will remember him. He was proud of her, too, and bragged on her just like he used to brag on me.  I will never, ever let her forget how much he loved her.

I love my old man. I miss my old man. His love for us is still alive and well in our hearts. Nothing or no one could ever take it away. And I'm at peace knowing that that's exactly what he would want. 

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