Friday, July 24, 2015

My Dad

On July 14th, 2015, Heaven gained one of its brightest angels. My Dad was one of the most wonderful people I will ever know. No one can say they didn’t like Rex. He was kind, generous, compassionate, and very passionate about so many things. He was hard not to love.

To say I am devastated just doesn’t cover it. No one can possibly prepare you for the death of a parent, especially at 31 years old. Even on my last day with him, I was still in such denial that he might not make it through his illness because I always, always thought Dad would be a centenarian. I never imagined my Dad wouldn't be here for me and with me.

Many of us spend our entire lives saying we don’t want to end up like our parents, or at least don’t want to be just like our parents, but as I have reflected on my Dad’s life and legacy, I have been blindsided by how many lessons, blessings and happy moments in my life have been and will be directly orchestrated by this wonderful man.

His obituary captured his life so well, but I want to take a few minutes to share some of the hundreds of things I loved most about my Dad.

He was adventurous. I climbed mountains and hiked trails and camped in more campsites by the age of 12 than most people will in their entire lives. Now make no mistake, I am not an outdoor girl, as anyone who knows me knows that my idea of “roughing it” these days is staying at a Best Western, but what his adventurous spirit stirred in me was a love and appreciation for nature and all things beautiful. And yes, that is a photo of him swinging from a vine in the middle of the woods at age 77.

He was protective. He did some crazy stuff in his day, but when it came to his kids, he always played it safe. We wore helmets and seatbelts. He didn’t let us drink pop and always made sure we had each food group covered in every meal. He taught me to drive with expert skill. He wouldn’t let a boy honk the horn and have me run out. That little sh*thead had to pick me up at the door thank you very much. I was Daddy's little girl and no one was allowed to disrespect me in any way, ever. I guarantee he is the reason I didn't settle for some loser and waited until I found the man my Dad could trust with my heart. 

He made sure to always capture the moment, and I am so grateful he was our family photographer. Even though we teased him relentlessly for not making the switch to digital (yes, he still had his film processed at CVS), he always said it was important to keep every memory, every picture, even the less than flattering ones because it was a part of your life that you can't ever get back.

He always did the right thing. He took us to church every Sunday. He picked up litter. He helped little old ladies with their groceries. He donated to so many types of charities. He never raised his voice. He didn’t let us get away with things we shouldn’t get away with. He absolutely showed me the difference between right and wrong, but also knowing when to live a little.

He had a passion for food that is rivaled only by me. Rex and I lived and breathed for food. It’s at the forefront of our minds at all times, and every meal we eat is THE BEST EVER. It makes me smile that I inherited that critical aspect of life from him :-) The only difference is that he chewed each bite 60 times and was always the last one to leave the table, whereas I inhale my food in 60 seconds or less. But maybe I’ll try eating slower in his memory…. maybe.

He never missed a holiday or occasion. He showed up to everything. My first half marathon? He was waiting there at the finish line. He sent me birthday cards three days in advance, always with a lottery ticket inside, and always with a message of “I love you Audra, and I will always be your friend.” My heart breaks thinking that I'll never get one of those cards again </3

For the rest of my life, I'm going to have to live with a series of "shoulds." I should have called him more. I should have written him more letters and sent him more cards. I should have been a better daughter. But that is my cross to bear, because I know that is he in Heaven and is not suffering, not sad, and not resentful. His last (very weak) words to me were "I Love You" and I will never, ever forget that moment for the rest of my life. Even in his final hours he showed his love to me. I will miss him every single day.

To be with family and to be outside were Dad's favorite things. I'd like to believe he's relaxing by the mountains up there, taking in the beauty and spending time with his grandson Jack. That is an image I can live with.

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Friday, July 10, 2015

29 Kisses

Every night, we tuck the girls into bed. And every night, they go through the same routine. 

  Anna wants to read evvvvvvery book in her room.We usually settle on 3 or 4. But it's never enough. The girl loves her books. So when we finally say "Ok Anna, it's time for night night!" she loses it. LOSES it. Cries so hard.

But then, we turn on her noise machine and start singing "Twinkle Twinkle" to her, and she drops the act. She lays her head on my shoulder and twirls her hair. I sing it three times so I can have that head on my shoulder just a little longer. 

With Emerson, after bargaining and pleading and making excuses, we finally get her in bed and I blow her kisses. We've made a game out of it. I ask her every night how many kisses she wants, and she counts to 29. For some reason, she has landed on 29 as the ideal number of kisses. So, in rapid succession, I kiss my hand 29 times, take a huge breath in, and blow 29 air kisses to my sweet girl. Sometimes she asks for one more for good luck.

Very small, insignificant moments to anyone else, but as their mother who knows I won't get to read to them or blow them kisses every night before bed forever, I live for these moments. 

I am the first to admit that I'm tired at the end of the night, and that it's nice to have them go to bed so I can get things done, clean, work out, etc. But I wouldn't trade that hair twirl or those 29 kisses for anything in the entire world.

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