We were eating a late dinner last Monday evening. The kids were in bed and we were winding down after a long day. Then, the text came from my youngest brother.
He wanted to know if I had heard from our Dad during the day. Our other brother was also unable to reach him for a better part of the afternoon – which was definitely not normal. The last I spoke with my father was the previous evening.
We had our normal Sunday evening chat – we talked about the kids, politics, the upcoming holidays and the weather – nothing too spectacular or to lead me to believe anything was wrong.
In the span of 20 minutes from that original text, the suspicions grew to fear and the fear to reality – my dad was gone. He was found at home by a family friend having died unexpectedly.
While he had health concerns, his passing was and still is a surprise not to mention horribly jarring. He visited us just 2 ½ weeks prior for Thanksgiving, a time I am now incredibly thankful for; little did I realize that would be the last time I’d see him or watch him enjoy his grandchildren.
The next few hours, and this week really, were a complete blur. I left for Bozeman, Montana (where he lived) at 5:00 a.m. the next morning, spent 11 hours at the airport in Kansas City thanks to a major winter storm in Denver, and arrived in Bozeman the next day. My brothers and I have spent the past week here in Montana handling his burial arrangements and taking care of all his matters.
As I wind down this week and head back home, the reality of my Father’s passing looms large. In short, it’s realizing my father is gone.
He was the first person I’d call when I had a question about pretty much anything.
He was the one who taught me that so much of life comes down to giving it your all and never giving up.
He was the one who showed me that your word is your bond and to stick by it.
He was the one who taught me that life comes down not to how much money you have but your relationships.
He was the one who helped me understand that mistakes can be a good thing when you use them to learn and grow.
He was the one who taught me that life is at its richest when you continue to learn new things.
He was the one who impressed upon me that anything worth having is worth working for.
He was and is the kind of father anyone would be blessed to have. He’s the kind of father I hope and desire to be to my children.
As we head into this holiday season, please take time to tell those who are special in your life how much you love them. Be intentional about it. Give them one extra hug. Turn off the TV or put down the smartphone and spend quality time with them. Simply let them know you care as so much truly comes down to that.
As I have learned again, we are only truly guaranteed today. Take today and tell your loved ones just how much they matter to you. With raw emotion I long to tell my Dad “I love you.” Since I can’t do that, I plan to remind everyone I love by telling them as often as I can.