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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  1. I have tears in my eyes and goosebumps on my arms. What a beautiful tribute. I feel so privileged that I was able to know Rex in my life. Such a gentle, compassionate, and caring man... You all have so many great stories and memories that you'll be sharing for years to come. Truly Heaven's brightest star, watching over you always.

  2. I am so sorry for your loss. Your post really resonated with me. Since starting a family of my own it's hard not to think about our mortality or that of our parents. Your dad sounds like an amazing man and I am sorry he was taken far too early from such an amazing life.

  3. I wasn't prepared for that. Thought I was, but I wasn't. I am so sorry you are going through this too. You are totally right that losing a parent at this age just flat out isn't fair. There was so much more to do together. So many things to witness. I also thought my dad would be 100. Wish I had anything helpful to say?? This was a beautiful post and a tribute to a GOOD man who I did not know but it is not hard to see from the obituary and this post:) I hope you are healing a teeny bit each day.

  4. Audra,
    I know that there is nothing that can be said to take this kind of pain and sadness away, but this is a wonderful, absolutely beautiful post full of happy memories. Hold tight to those they will help you through some of those very hard times. I lost my dad suddenly a few years ago and some days/weeks are harder than others but you get to live every day knowing that you knew and loved this wonderful man and that you get to pass on those memories to your family now.
    Thank you for making me think of my father and what he means (meant) to me, sometimes I need those little reminders.

  5. This is a lovely, heartbreaking, wonderful post. The notes in the birthday cards, what a guy.

  6. Just beautiful Audra. So heartbreaking. So sorry. Love the image of him enjoying time in the mountains in heaven with Jack. Hugs friend.😘

  7. Continuing to keep you and your family in my prayers Audra. Love you.

  8. Thinking of you Audra. Losing a father is so incredibly hard. My Dad passed away in December 2013 and it was one of the hardest things I have ever gone through. What a beautifully written post for your Dad, thank you for sharing your heart.