One year ago - on this day - my Dad passed away. It was, without a doubt, a day that buckled the collective knees of those who knew him. And it crushed those of us who loved him deeply. This past year has taught me a lot about death - about life - about gratitude - about faith.
I realized this year that the bond that I had with my Dad while he was physically here has really not changed. I still talk to him every day. I still ask him for guidance. I still brag about him just as he bragged about me. My Dad was a wonderful listener. I could go to him about anything - and I often did. If I joked that now he is an even better listener - that I could go on and on and on - that would be terribly inappropriate, wouldn't it. Too soon? Well, he did have a great sense of humor. I think he'd approve.
I know for sure that he is around us. His spirit has been in my home, in my car, in Gavin and Brian's rooms and in their playroom. He would never leave any of us behind. His presence is so comforting to me and each and every little "sign" that I see (even if it's just me projecting my hopes and wishes onto what I think is a "sign") make me feel so close to him.
My Dad and I share a love of writing. I have mentioned before that I have a stack of letters from him that I've saved over the years. I decided to share some of these personal notes today. I'm so grateful that he showed me he loved me in this way. Thinking of him sitting down and taking the time to write these for me - it's unbelievable. He always made me feel so special. And having his handwriting forever is something I will treasure. I always loved his handwriting.
This first letter was delivered to me at my 8th grade retreat in 1984. It would be just a few months before I graduated and would head off to high school.
(Clicking the picture will make it bigger so you can read it!)
When I graduated high school, I started college immediately that summer. It was a hot, hot summer and I was very homesick. One of my Dad's many letters arrived before I did - it was waiting for me in my brand new mailbox. And they continued to arrive. This was one little piece of home that I'm particularly fond of...
This one he wrote to me after I was offered a flight attendant position with USAir! He and my mom ended up traveling the world on my benefits... and I landed a husband!!
My Dad often ended his letters, his conversations and his phone calls with "Keep the Faith." I want him to know that I have. Many times I have to "fake it until I make it" - and that's okay. But because of his example of positive thinking, persistence and faith - I have been able to keep my head above water and overcome a lot of adversity.
A year goes by quickly. So does a lifetime. Treasure every moment with the ones you love. And remember that making time for someone - to talk, to listen, to compose a note - could be the very best legacy you can leave behind.
I love you, Dad.