The things he has taught me, you can not place a price on. This is a tribute to my Dad. We just celebrated his 60th birthday last night. He cried after we left for a long time, as he reflected on his life and all that 60 years have held and where his life is now. A father of 5, grandfather to 8 his home was full of laughter and love last night. The rowdy chaos, just a reflection of children who are comfortable and excited to be at Papaw's house and with each other.
If you are within 2 feet of my Dad you will get wrapped up in a hug and told how much you are loved. Eyes that shed tears at the drop of a hat. A heart that is worn on a sleeve. What makes a man so affectionate and so vulnerable?
From a very early age my father found out that you have to love people while you have them. He lost his mother at the age of 9... the first of many losses. At the age of seventeen my father was in a accident that nearly took his life and after being electrocuted, he had to have his arm amputated. Two years later his father died. Around this time he met my mom and they were married and had me... We lost my mother when I was only 1 and my father all to familiar with loss experienced another tragedy at the tender age of 21.
Through the years many have had there opinions about how my father has lived his life, but when I think of all the heartache he has endured and can still smile and face each new day with joy, I admire him. What would destroy most and make them cold and bitter has done the opposite for my Dad. Now that I'm an adult I can see that every time he draws me into his arms and every time his heart pours out of his eyes and every time he says "I love you with all of my heart", he's remembering how precious life is, how you never know when you could lose someone, and you need to tell them every single time you have a chance.
I grew up knowing that I was deeply loved. What a precious gift. He has no idea how that has affected my life. Showing affection and loving my children, a learned behavior, I picked up from my dad.
He taught me that you can get back up again. Life can be more tragic that a person can imagine, but we can endure. We can keep going. We can turn tragedy into perspective... We can decide to treat life as precious and to focus on what really matters... the people you love.
He taught me to turn the music up, to grab somebody and whirl them around the kitchen floor, to sing at the top your lungs and to laugh until you cry... to love with all my heart.
I've watched him open doors, smile and talk to everyone 8 to 80, he's going to notice you. You will be his new best friend. You will feel like you were somebody special.
I remember when I was in high school and my girl friends would want to come over and hang out with my Dad. I thought how crazy, until one night my friend said, "I wish my Dad loved me like your Dad does." In that moment I realized not every one has what I have. Not everyone has a person in their life who loves them, the way my dad has loves me and I realized how blessed I am to have him.
Dad, thanks for teaching me how to love. It is life's greatest gift. A person can endure anything if they know they are truly loved by someone. Thank you for allowing life's hardships to soften you and thank you for loving all of us with all your heart. Thank you for making sure we all know that we are precious and loved.
I love you with all my heart.