To My Father, With Love

Me and my Dad on his 80th Birthday in 2017

It’s been three years since my father passed away and there truly isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t think of him and miss him. Yesterday, February 5, 2021 marked his third heavenly birthday. I spent most of the day – in between my work – living in my head and conjuring up all of the memories I could about the man whom I first loved in this life and who sacrificed so much of his to ensure we always had what we needed. Over the past three years the pain of losing him in the way we did, suddenly and unexpectedly, has begun to subside but the emotions of wishing he were still here will never go away.

This year, in honor of him and his legacy, I wanted to express my love for him in a way that means the most to me and that connects me to him in a way that continues to help me push through the grief and cherish the memories we created together and as a family. This is my letter to my Dad. This is my heart, opening up and breaking simultaneously. This is how I grieve – and process – and move forward.

To my father, with love.

My Dad and I in the Spring of 2015 during Family Pictures on the farm where he worked for 29 years…Gainesway Farm – Lexington, KY

Dad,

It’s hard to believe it’s been three years since you passed. Three years. In so many ways it feels like yesterday and in others it feels like a lifetime. So much life has happened since you went to be with our Lord and I have to believe that you also have played a part in some of our adventures, being right there with us every step of the way.

For starters, we moved again! Dan was promoted and we moved to South Florida. I know, the state we swore we’d never move to and crazily now we have plans to stay here – for good. Within the first few weeks living here I drove past Hialeah and it reminded me of all the stories you used to tell us of your time on the racetrack down there – and Mom visiting you once when you were working. How ironic is that? Your risk at coming to this country and paving the way for a new life for yourself, experiencing all that life has to offer and creating adventures at every turn, was most assuredly captured in my DNA. I’m so grateful that it was because it has opened my eyes to an incredible world and has allowed me to see and experience things that have shaped my perspective – all for the better. Thank you for that, Dad.

I miss you the most when I look at Miriam, Luke, and Jude. Dad, you would be so proud of them as they are all growing up to be the most wonderful versions of themselves.

Miriam is thirteen now and Dan and I are still baffled at how it is possible that we have a teenager living under our roof. We laughed the other morning at how Miriam definitely got all the ‘grandparent genes’ from both sides. She has your spirit; the determination to do what she wants – and she knows how to get it, to her tenacity and zest for life yet her stubborn unwillingness at times to deviate from her plan and try things a different way. She’s going to make one hell of an adult when she’s able to call her own shots and run her life. We do our best to allow for that while tempering it with what needs to be done now to teach her how to be a good human and the best Miriam she can be. She’s chosen ballet and pointe as her focus and has done remarkably well this year but theatre and singing will always be her first loves.

Luke the Duke is just as funny and loving and kind as ever. This son of ours was just awarded Kid of the Month for his class at school and they made the announcement over the loud speakers, which made him feel so good about himself. I see so much of you in him. He has your knack for lengthy storytelling which I do too so… He has your sensitivity and tenderness when it comes to caring for others and his family. He loves his Grandma Carol something fierce and enjoys FaceTime with Granny Di frequently. He’s oh so witty and I remember you saying he’d grow up to be a comedian. He’s only eleven – and time will tell – but he’d make a great, and funny one. He’s still playing the piano and I wish you could be here to watch and listen but I have a feeling you are. He started golf when we moved here and he is liking it a lot. He loves our pool and South Florida living but he misses Nashville a lot.

And then there’s Baby Jude. My heart breaks every time I think about the amount of time you will never have with him. He’s a firecracker. So freaking wild yet he centers all of us and keeps us on our toes. He’s so smart and is obsessed with trucks of all kinds. He never misses a garbage or recycle day and his ability to sit and watch TV for hours on end rivals yours. Well, in your retirement years. 😉 He is in school at Montessori and he loves learning about the continents which he affectionately calls, ‘contibents’. Our assumption is that because he is learning from all Spanish speaking teachers that soon we’ll have to help him understand the difference between certain letters in the English language that are pronounced differently. For the time being – we just love hearing him marvel over Africa, Asia, Europe, Antarctica, Australia, South America and North America, and how he wants to go there – and does in his class lessons. The imagination and creativity of this kid would blow you away. He’s going to be our world traveler and adventurer for sure and in that way he reminds me of you so much.

I have no clue how you and Mom did it with the three of us but somehow – we all turned out all right.

And then there’s me – and Dan. Dad, we are thriving and I am so thankful for the love you displayed to Mom because I have found a man who shows the same kind of adoration to me as you did her. He picks the best cards that encompass everything he wants to say and that I want to hear which reminds me so much of you because Mom always said you were the best. I’m so grateful I married a man who loves his family just like you did because he is our center and so were you. He puts us first and ensures our happiness over everything. We are both loving South Florida. We wish so much that you could have seen our home and visited with us – pretty sure you could have convinced Mom to move because you would love life in this tropical climate.

But I see you. I’ve seen you in the signs you’ve sent along our journey the past three years since you’ve been gone. And those signs are always the reminder that I need to comfort me and make me realize that you are alright. I‘ll never not miss you but as each year passes so does the pain of losing you, replacing with it the cherished and treasured memories of your love and our life. Thank you for being the best father you could be and for always loving me.

Hope you’re singing and dancing with St. Peter and the angles in Heaven and having a blast catching up with your Mom and Dad. Keep looking out for us down here and we’ll keep your legacy and memory alive by always celebrating the beautiful and wonderful life you lived.

~Bunny

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