Good Morning Dears,
I realize I have been a bit personal in regard to my posts this week and today’s post is going to be personal as well. Sometimes I post as an outlet for things that I am feeling emotionally and also so you guys can know me on a deeper level. However if you are in it for the fashion, I completely understand and apologize in advance as well as thank you for letting me share this with you all and for your support.
Today is the anniversary of the day my father passed away. I was 16 and in the beginning of the summer before my junior year. I awoke at 7:30am on the sunny June morning to a phone call from my mother. My Dad had not been feeling well and since he appeared so ill she had made him a doctor’s appointment and needed me to give him the time and information. I walked down the hall checking room after room in our quiet house. My Dad was an early riser and morning OCD cleaner so this was weird. When I got to their bedroom at the back of the house he was not there but the bed was left unmade and his clothes for the day were still laid out on the cedar chest at the foot of the bed. I honestly remember thinking to myself that he must be running around the house or backyard somewhere in his underwear and found myself preemptively embarrassed as any teenager would. I doubled back down the hall and as I looked into our computer room I found my Dad on the floor unconscious. 911 was called, my mom rushed home, paramedics arrived and attempted to revive him to no avail. He had died instantly that morning about 30 minutes before I found him of Pulmonary Fibrosis which is essentially a blood clot in the lungs. There was nothing anyone could have done.
That day my life changed. I didn’t feel like a kid anymore. I was extremely disturbed from the experience and found myself in a deep depression for the next couple of years. I spent the rest of high school alternating group therapy with other kids who had lost immediate family members and meeting with a private counselor. I became jaded with high school, stayed home more often than not, gave up on fitting in, stuck close to my Mom and my close friends, and for the most part checked out. I found myself changing my life path in regard to college and decided that all I wanted was to move to the next step and start building a family for myself since such an important part of mine had disappeared. It took me until I was 22, in the end of my first marriage and beginning a new love with my partner and creating our family (read about that here) to truly reach some resolve in my feelings about his passing and released myself from my overwhelming yet unjustified guild taking the steps to being the person I was meant to be.
Today marks 11 years since what I have considered the worst day of my life. While I have grown up and the pain and grief has changed, it is still hard. In the past I have spent this day secluding myself, rehashing the events of that day, what I could have done differently and drowning in my own grief. I decided this year I would rather honor his memory by sharing this story as well as reflecting on the things he taught me in the 16 years of my life that I was lucky enough to have him by my side.
Things My Father Taught Me:
- Don’t Take Yourself So Seriously. My Dad was always outgoing, silly and authentically himself. He was unapologetic about who he was and what he valued and that is a huge part of who I am today.
- It’s Ok To Cry. Whether it was a serious situation or just one of those extremely heartfelt Michael Landon, Little House On The Prairie moments crying is never a weakness but simply a way to release emotions.
- The Clothes Make The Man. My Dad owned suit stores most of his career and I still stand by the fact that if you are a man who lived in Boise in the 80’s and 90’s my father probably dressed you at some point. I attribute this to my passion for fashion.
- It’s Not About Networking, It’s About Connecting. No matter where we went people always came up to us to visit with my Dad. It felt like he must know EVERYONE in the world. He didn’t always remember their names but he could remember things about them and allowed them to connect with him as well. He valued relationships with everyone from the cashier at the grocery store to someone he hadn’t seen in years. Even though his side of family was already deceased over 100 people showed up at his funeral from every different part of his life. They all had amazing stories, kind words and all felt like he was an important person in their life. I find myself living with a focus on building relationships and connections and I think he would feel he contributed to that part of my life.
- Just Call Them Guy. When those people (primarily men) approached him and he couldn’t remember their names he would just call them Guy. “How’s it going Guy?” was a constant phrase in his life. While I pride myself on my ability to learn ones name and remember it, there have been times where I have drawn a complete blank and have played it off just like he did.
- Age Is Just A Number. My mother was 20 years younger than my father. This was a fact but not an issue. It never felt like my Mom and Dad were at a disservice because of their age and because of that I have always been very comfortable with an age difference. My love and I are 10 years apart and I am glad I had good role models that made me feel comfortable with it.
- When You Love Someone, You Make Their Dreams Come True. My Mom was my Dad’s second wife. He and his first wife had a child together and my half brother was practically an adult when my Dad married my Mom. He had been done raising children but he understood that my Mom desperately wanted to be a parent and that it was one of her dreams. Even though he felt he might be too old for a baby, he went ahead and got a reverse vasectomy (a new thing for the 80’s) and they tried for years to conceive me. They called me their miracle baby and I was instantly the apple of his eye and his little princess. He was a great father and together he as well as my wonderful mother taught me as well how to be a good parent.
- Sing It Loud and Proud. Dad was always singing at the top of his lungs. In the shower and especially in the car he was singing along with the radio even making up his own words. I especially remember incidents where to my dismay in front of my friends belted out “I Feel Like A Woman” and “She Bangs”. Now those moments are some of my fondest memories. Music has always been a big part of my life and of my brother’s life as well and I think we have him to thank for that.
- Gender Roles Are For The Birds. My Dad retired when I was 10 and became Mr. Mom. He had always been slightly effeminate and found passion and interest in beautifying our home. He cooked, cleaned, took me to orthodontist appointments, group movie dates, and soccer practice. He never felt like less of a man even though his generation would typically disagree, and made me believe that men and women could do whatever they put their mind to and that roles in the home should be equal and non gender specific.
- Life Always Ends, So Embrace Every Moment Of It. Sometimes I feel like we knew it would happen. The day before he passed my Mom had asked me to stay home and spend some time with my Dad. We hadn’t been connecting as much as we needed to and I spent the day with him just hanging out, running errands and talking openly about all sorts of things. He had told my Mom that night how happy spending the day with me had made him and how special that was to him. Sometimes we need to remember to take a time out and enjoy our families company, to slow down and have a conversation, make time for a vacation and to take as many photos as possible no matter how bad we feel we look. While I am so appreciative of the time I did have with him, I wish I would have realized he wouldn’t be around forever and given him more of my time and would have posed and smiled in photos with him instead of running away. Now I live for each moment, take a ton of photos, spend as much time as I can with the people I love and I can thank him for teaching me that, as bittersweet as it may be.
My Dad was a wonderful person and I am so lucky to have him as a parent. Even though I only had him physically present for 16 years, I wouldn’t trade him for anything. He taught me so much more then just those 10 things and today I am so appreciative of the lessons he taught me in life and death and celebrate his place in the world. Oh and he taught me to be pretty fabulous too!
I love you Dad!