June 18, 2018

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

Happy Father’s Day Dad!

It just dawned on me. I don’t think that I have ever written to you. If I have somewhere in the past I certainly do not recall. Starting this Father’s Day, I am going to start a new “tradition”. A tradition in which I catch you up on my life and write you a letter. You know, something similar to those holiday newsletters some families send out… but cooler.

A lot has happened since I last saw you. I don’t remember when I actually saw you last. I remember you going to work one day and never coming home, I was pulled from school, and knowing that you were very ill. Then one day mom woke me and Patrick up and told us that you had died almost a month later. I remember crying but also remember not entirely sure why. As you can guess it was a bit hard growing up without you. I was so confused and lost what it meant by your passing. I remember a lot of instability and chaos in the years after… and can you believe that I also remember being picked on by the neighborhood kids because I didn’t have a dad? Seriously. It probably started to hit me that you were gone forever in my very early teens. Something started to shift in me and I remember being so angry and so scared all the time. I started to withdraw from social activities and kind of stuck to myself.

We moved a couple times and it was hard to move from the home I grew up in with you but mom knew it was for the best. She met a wonderful man named Jim and they married about 6 years after you died. He’s a great man and I’m so happy and grateful he’s in our lives. I bet you two would have gotten along well.

Growing up I was a big kid and had a lot of older friends which meant I did a lot of things the older kids did… like drink and do drugs. I’m sure you wouldn’t have been happy with this part of my life and I’m sure it may have gone differently if you were around but that experience I had during that time was a hidden gift. It led to me getting sober later on which laid the foundation for the amazing life I have today. High school went off essentially without a hitch. I had some fights, got arrested a couple times, had my heart broken and broke some hearts. I was kind of an outcast and hung around a rough crowd but during my senior year, I started to come into my own. Mom was ecstatic when I won prom king. She cried saying how I “showed them all” and was a good kid deep down. That goodness came from you.

College was awful. I think I got kicked out and dropped out at least a half a dozen times before I found my niche in the nursing program at Purdue. All of a sudden, I went from failing to exceeding. I finally felt like I had a purpose and that I was good at something. The Dean even invited me to the house for dinner. I was the “Outstanding Student of the Year!” My nursing career was wonderful and I truly loved helping people. Especially helping the men that almost died how you died. I would get chills seeing how they would survive. It would fill my heart with both joy and sadness. Joy for those that lived, and sadness that the lifesaving opportunities available now weren’t available when you needed them most. I wish I could’ve helped you when you needed it most, but I helped some other little boy get to have more time with his dad. That’s not too bad.

I met Marsha, my first wife, just before getting into nursing school. Do you remember meeting her? We came by after the wedding to visit you in the cemetery. It was such an exciting time but also a time of challenges. Well, although things didn’t work out for us, …phew we were so young… she is doing well and we are on good terms. One thing that I hear often that I got from you was my easy-going nature. It’s helped when times have been hard both with myself and when it’s been hard with others.

I’m sure you also remember when times got really tough for me. I was so scared and confused dad. I was terrified and so close to dying and so ashamed that I couldn’t ask for help. I can’t help to wonder what you would have said to me when it got so dark. If it would have even got that dark with you here. However, I know one hundred percent that you were there helping as hard as you could to have me get help. The help I so desperately needed. I don’t know if I’ve ever thanked you for that. So, thanks dad. Thanks for being there when I have needed you the most. I did get the help I needed and my life for the past 10 years has been a fairy tale. I’m so grateful how it’s turned out and I do not wish to deny my past or shut the door on it.

I went back to college and finished my bachelor’s in nursing and even went on to get a masters in business. Me in business? Yep. Hilarious right? Your blue-collar blood runs deep in your son dad but I went on to wear white collars. Suits! Can you believe it? I have oversight for a multi-million-dollar regional business for one of the largest healthcare companies in the state. Me! I can imagine you and me sitting on the back porch in Glenwood just laughing over it. I can’t help but laugh sometimes.

I also started my own business and it is going through the roof! I essentially help people get connected to their hearts, have them live life preciously and urgently because as you know it can end in an instant. I truly feel helping people is my life’s purpose and I love that “heart”, the very thing that failed you is the thing I support in others.

Well, remember when I was on that 4th date with that woman named Shona? You know… when you whispered in my ear, “You are going to marry her”? Well dad, I did. We married almost a year ago. Thanks for the nudge. She is the best thing that has ever happened to me and she has been so excited to get to know you through the picture and stories. We stopped by the cemetery last summer some time too If you remember. We’re even talking about starting a family. Me a dad!? I can’t even imagine. I know that I will give that little baby everything that you would have wanted to give me and more.

There are a gazillion other memories and events I want to share with you and part of me knows that you know already, and have always been there, so I’d be kind of silly to do so. I love you dad. I love that we are getting to spend more time “together” and I want to wish you a Happy Father’s Day. Every time there is a thunderstorm I think of us sitting on that back porch, watching the lightning, hearing the thunder, smelling the fresh rain, and feeling together. Father and son.

I love you