Happy 80th, Dad

Dear Dad,

Today would have been your 80th birthday. I've thought about you all day. We would have had the biggest party for you today, but I know you've been celebrating since you arrived in heaven.

I wouldn't wish you back. I know you are free from pain, free from cancer, and you are in the presence of our Lord. But I miss you--especially on days like today. I've been working today, and have been pretty busy, but you've been on my mind. I've had to swallow hard a few times today and kept pushing back down the sad feelings that were creeping up in my heart, but now I can't supress it any longer. I've been looking at pictures of you and the tears continue to puddle, even now as I type this.

It's so weird, Dad. In some ways it feels like you've been gone a long time...I can't believe it's only been a little over a year...but in other ways, it seems like it was just yesterday I heard you laugh and call me "sweety heart". I dream about you so much. Sometimes they're so real, that when I wake up, it's almost as if I've been talking with you and it takes me a moment to realize it was just a dream.

So much has happened in the past year---it seems like a lifetime of things and you weren't there with us for any of them. If I think on it too long, the sadness is overwhelming, so I shut it out. As hard as it has been for me, I think it's been harder on Terri. She and Taylor both miss you more than words can express. You know how she is, Dad. She beats herself up. She is so much like you---a "tough as nails" exterior, but a heart of gold. We all wish we would have spent more time with you and told you we loved you more often.

I remember as a teenager, in the mornings you would come downstairs to the kitchen, pat me on the head or brush your hand up and down on my cheek, and I would pull away. I'm so sorry Dad. I was a stupid teenager. What I wouldn't give to feel your soft hands again. I loved you so much but didn't show it, and I knew you loved me. I have never doubted your unconditional love for me. As much as I probably hurt you in my teenage years, you loved me through it and held on as tight as you could. Thank you Dad, for not letting go.

I hope you know how much I loved you and still love and miss you. We all miss you terribly. There's a void, the empty place at the holiday table and the emptiness in our hearts---we all feel it at each birthday celebration or holiday gathering. Things just aren't the same. You always provided the comic relief...whether you meant to or not!

I wonder if you are keeping up with what each of us are doing. Sometimes I wish I could ask you if I'm making the right decisions or what something in the Bible means, or where is that verse...etc. I know it may sound silly, but sometimes when I pray, I ask the Lord to tell you how much I love and miss you. I wonder if you know that.

I thought I would post some pictures of what we've been doing, as well as some of my favorites from when you were still with us.

Remember this? This was our first Thanksgiving together after Gary and I got married. Look how young we all look!

This is one of my most favorite pictures! I can't believe you agreed to pose for a Christmas picture with Zack and Draven in your boxers! You were a good sport, Dad!

This is another cherished photo. I think this was the last time our entire family was all together at the same time and able to pose for a family photo (summer 2005).

This was Zack's 16th birthday (July 1st), just a few months before you went to be with the Lord. It seems like you declined so quickly. I think July was the last time you were able to get up and come eat dinner and socialize.

I love how you are cracking up---and look at Zack...he was laughing so hard, his eyes were all teary---just like you used to do!

This was just two weeks before you passed away and the last time all four of us kids were together with you.

This was the worst day of my life. I haven't been back to Mom's church since your funeral. I'm not sure I could. Such overwhelming, indescribable grief.

Thanksgiving, just a few short weeks had passed, but it seemed like time was standing still. Everything was a blur that Thanksgiving. This is evidence that we had a turkey...but I don't remember much else. I know you would have given Gary a hard time about his shirt.

Christmas was even harder. We all were still numb. You know how mom takes a picture each Christmas of the kids and puts it in that big frame...look at their little eyes. All we did was cry--we missed you so much--no one sat in your chair.

This was downtown at Atlantic Station. Honestly, I can't remember if this was during the Thanksgiving holidays or Christmas...but look at Zack in your Yankees jacket! And look at Mom--her smile has not been the same since you've been gone. It's so different---there's even something missing in her eyes.

You missed Draven's first "double digit" birthday (January 6), he turned 10. You would have laughed and teased him about how they mispelled his name on his cookie cake. They put "Craven"!

We took Mom to "Fire of Brazil" for what would have been your 50th wedding anniversary. We all typed up memory cards and gave her a memory box full of our memories of you. It was rough---especially for mom.

Here's Taylor at one of her many volleyball tournaments. She's on a traveling team and she's quite the player, just like her mom! Thumper, Jr.! I know you would have been hollering "let's go tay-tay!"

Here is Zack's very last high school performance as Drum Major. He loved every minute of it and was so passionate about it---putting his whole heart and soul into each performance. You taught him that passion, drive and determination.

...not to mention...INTENSITY!

Mom and Taylor got to come see his last performance. Taylor actually took the pictures of Zack from the field. She has quite the eye for photography. Do you see how Mom's smile has changed?

This is the most recent photo of Zack. This was taken exactly one year after you passed away. I couldn't help but think of you all that day, remembering how much you kept asking mom to put in the video of "that boy" (Zack conducting)---and here he was, one year later, making one of the most important decisions of his life. The three of us had such peace and clarity that day. We know the Lord was looking out for us in a very special way, and I'd like to think you were too.

In closing, I just want you to know that we are doing our best to live happy, healthy, fulfilled lives. You taught each one of us, from your kids to your grandkids and your son and daughter in-laws. You trained us up, Dad...and even though we may stray a bit from the path, we will never depart from it.

I love you. I miss you, and I look forward with great anticipation our reunion in heaven one day.

Your brown-eyed girl,


12 sweet friends had to say...:

Dianne said...

Tracey, this is a very sweet post and I LOVE all the pictures. I wish I knew what to say...life isn't the same for any of you, but what a blessing to have a Dad who was as loved and as valued by so many people as he was. I was totally blown away by the outpouring and respect that so many people had for him. I trust you got the message I left for you a couple of weeks ago...know that I care.

Musicaljean said...

Tracey, that is such a wonderful tribute to your dad. I enjoyed every memory and picture, even tho I never knew him.

LivingTheLife said...

What a lovely, lovely tribute to your dad...I know how hard it is to loose a dad...but know this...I believe with all my heart...He KNOWS everything that you want him to know...my dad died in 1998 at the age of 65...suddenly...I will never stop missing him or loving him...but I do know this...I, just as you; ask God to tell him and my mom everyday...that I love them, both...and I know he does.

One day I would love to share a dream with you that I had shortly after my father died...it was all about him...and he told me many things in this dream...that I cherish to this day...honestly, it is one of the ways I've managed to cope...it was a God send of a dream! The odd thing about this dream (which I know and believe came straight from the Lord, is that my sister...had the same exact dream...on the same night...the only thing different was he was talking to her in her dream). We discovered this blessing only by mistake...I wasn't sure I wanted to share the dream w/anyone (except my husband) so I didn't discuss it for days...but suddenly one day on the phone w/my sister...I told her I needed to share something w/her...and she said...yes, and I need to share something w/you...then we started talking almost at the same time...describing the dream we each had...we were stunned...but we found a lot of comfort in the fact that God knew how to reach us. My son put it best...He said,
"Mom, who is one of the persons on earth that you trusted most besides dad?" To which I replied..."my dad"...he said,..."yeah and what better person for God to send to you with a message you needed to hear! You would NEVER question what your own father had to say...and God knew that!"...Wow...makes me cry thinking of it...I don't tell you this to make you sad, either...I want you to know...per my dad...your dad knows! Everyone does! It was a simple message...but oh...so perfect!

Please know I am thinking of you, praying for you and that I ask our Lord and Saviour to give you and your family the peace that each of you need to deal with the loss of a man that most surely was an awesome person!


Profbaugh said...

I tagged you :-) See my blog.


justabeachkat said...

Oh Tracey...what a beautifully written tribute to your beloved Dad! So touching, so sweet, so moving! I loved seeing the photos too. I know today was hard.


chrome dome said...

I loved "Papa" so much! I'm reading this through the tears. I am truly blessed to have known your father. I, too, look forward to seeing him again one day.
I love you.

Mindy said...

SO sweet.
What love you show to your father who obviously was a wonderful dad to you!

Tonja said...

I am so moved by your sweet tribute to your Dad. He sounds like quite quite a special man. He must have been to inspire such beautiful rememberences from his daughter. The older I get, the more I recognize that dreams can be a direct gift from God. I've found that when someone I have loved seems so far away....I will soon dream of them. It's like a love video message...straight from heaven. You are so blessed to have precious memories, and I, for one, believe those in heaven keep an eye on their loved ones. And, I am also sure that God has passed on your message. Enjoy it when you find little pieces of your Dad in Zach...let it make you even more thankful for his legacy. God bless...


Jungle Mom said...

I was crying. Right up to the picture of him in his boxers!!!! That gave me a laugh! Thanks!

The Preacher's Wife said...

What a wonderful tribute...How wonderful you were blessed with such a great father.

Melody said...

What a great tribute to what seems like a great man. I will pray for the "peace that passes understanding" to fall on your family today.

Love you girl!

joan said...

What a wonderful tribute to your Dad! He sounds like he was a great dad. It also sounds like he was so loved by all that knew him. Take care.

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