My Dad left us 22 years ago today.
Looking back, the one thing I know for sure is that for 24 years I had the incredible gift of, quite simply, the most wonderful father ever.
I must confess that I have written and rewritten this blog post half a dozen times over the last few days. There are so many things I want the world to know about my father.
I wrote and rewrote stories from my past. Tales of memories that I have of him that I think of as "standout moments" in time. Moments when my father's true character came shining through bright as the sun. Simple, everyday minutes that carried important messages. Stories of times when it was apparent that my father had lived a hard life when he was young. Things that I know of his brave military service in World War II. Stories of my father's generous soul. How my father took every opportunity to help others. If the Lord loves a cheerful giver, then he loved my father very much.
I typed each story out and then deleted them. There were just too many.
I think the times I miss most are the ordinary moments we spent together. Watching cartoons and laughing. Taking his pickup truck to the local dump and singing along to a Marty Robins eight-track tape all the way there and all the way back. Picking out gifts for my mother. For any occasion, he always bought her the largest Hallmark card he could find. I guess the larger the card was, the more love it could hold.
My father was a common man. He never amassed great wealth. He was not famous. He had a hard childhood with an abusive father. He fought in a war and saw terrible things. He was human and imperfect. But he was a man of steadfast faith. A man who did everything that was asked of him if it was possible. A man who worked hard and chose to live in a positive way. A man who taught me to help others and to do everything the very best way that I could.
I still have gifts that my father gave me - a Hummel music box, a tiny pin that is shaped like a fighting lion, among other things. They are my "Zuzu's petals". They hold memories of a different time - my former life when my father was alive. For me, these things are symbols of what is really important in life - what really matters. My father's success was not in accomplishing great things, but in the people whom he impacted. Loving and cherishing the little things are what mattered. And his success was simply that he impacted others for good.
His memory is with me always. And on this day and every day of every year to come, I will miss the man whose laugh I can still hear and who never leaves my heart.
"Strange, isn't it? Each man's life touches so many other lives. When he isn't around he leaves an awful hole, doesn't he?" Clarence the angel to George Bailey in "It's a Wonderful Life".