Day 15: The best kind of goodbyes (Remembering Dad)
Today, September 12, is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 64.
Those of you who knew him understand why I want to remember his goodness.
To be fair, he was also humble and flawed and probably would have squirmed under this spotlight. He may have protested that he had many faults, and I would have agreed. Yes, we all do, because we are real. And somehow we still love each other anyway. (I’ll give you one guess – who taught me to think like that…)
Leaving you now with a little story. I hope it makes you smile.
It was Halloween night, the year 2000. I was living in Iowa, but spending a few nights in Nebraska for work. My parents, who were in Kansas, agreed to split the distance and meet me at the halfway point for dinner.
Little did we know that a storm was brewing. I was well on my way when the winds picked up and rain began dumping so heavily that I could barely see. Tornado warnings began broadcasting on the radio and suddenly I realized the situation was bad. I still had a distance to go, and I had come too far to go back. I clutched the wheel and prayed.
Forty five harried minutes later, I arrived at the Pizza Hut to find my parents in an exceptional moment of enjoying each other’s company. Mom laughed as she described the Halloween costume she wore to work, Dad’s eyes sparkled as explained how he’d helped. As we ate, they both cracked jokes, we laughed and loved. In the safety of that little restaurant booth, it was hard to believe how alone and frightened I had been only moments before.
When it was time to leave, I hugged my mom, hugged my dad, told them I loved them. Then I hopped into my car and pulled out of the lot. Instantly, had the overwhelming urge to go back. Without a thinking twice, I looped the car around and pulled back in.
I got out, gave Dad another giant bear hug, told him again that I loved him. Them we headed our separate ways, happy in the heart.
That was the last time I ever saw him. Less than a month later he was gone.
After braving a tornado to make an unlikely dinner date in the middle of nowhere, we said good-bye with great love… not just once, but twice!
I offer this as a reminder that each moment with a loved one is a gift: it pays to be thankful for every hello, and intentional with each good-bye.
Happy Birthday Dad. I’m thankful for the time you were here.