Saturday, February 10, 2007 was the longest, hardest day of my life. It began the night before. I had gone to bed at a fairly decent hour, only to be awoken by my mom calling sometime around midnight. My daddy had been progressively getting worse and he said it was time to go. I got to his side only minutes later and 2 hours later he was gone. The rest of the wee hours of the morning and the entire next day I was on auto-pilot. Do what needed to be done: tell my kids, reach out to friends and family, take care of the business end of everything. I didn't grieve until late that night, when all my bottled-up emotions came bursting forth in one horrific waterfall of putrid anger, that I spewed onto Jake. After that came the tears. It was not pretty.
Every year on February 10 I write about my daddy. It's cathartic and has become a special way for me to remember him and all the good times we had. It's a way to honor him and let others know what an amazing man he was. This day is never easy for me, and I'm usually a little down or moody.
Today marks 11 years without my daddy. It's hard to believe it's been that long, and it also seems like a lifetime ago--so much has transpired since then, so much that I wish he had been here for.
This 10th hasn't been as bad as the previous ones; I'm able to remember more easily, with smiles instead of tears. I think he would be proud of me, I know he would be proud of Jake and the kids. He would be out here as often as he could, cheering JD on in rugby and taking Cora shopping and spending special time with her. He loved being a grandaddy more than anything I think.
His fourth great-grandchild was born a month ago, I have no doubt he would be the most amazing great-grandaddy, spoiling those kids rotten.
Today my sister sent me a video of Ray Steven's "The Mississippi Squirrel Revival" (If you don't know it, I highly suggest youtubing it). Ray Stevens was one of daddy's favorites. It was the absolute perfect way to remember him today. I remember when I was a kid and he and I were alone in the car he would put in a Ray Steven's tape and the two of us would belt out the outrageously funny songs. He took me to one of his concerts in Branson one year. I watched the video and smiled, then laughed to myself, remembering those precious times that didn't seem like much of anything at the time. I smile now just thinking about all the silly things we would say and do, just the two of us. He was always so serious and stoic, but when we had our daddy-daughter days every week a different daddy would come out, one that was just for me.
If you're a dad reading this, know that those little, simple moments with your kids are so important. They may not seem like much at the time, but they will be treasured for a life-time and leave a permanent mark on their lives.
So as I contemplated today on what I would write I mostly smiled inside, knowing that he has had 11 beyond-amazing years in the presence of His Savior and that one day I will be there with him, worshiping together. So I can't help but smile and press on and press in to Jesus.
Happy 11th homecoming day, daddy. I love you!