A Tribute To My Father On His 80th Birthday

Dad, today you would have been 80! We would have celebrated YOU with a huge party! You would have started your day with 18 holes of golf first because today is a beautiful, perfect day for it and you'd never waste a perfect golfing day with your buddies. Our family would have celebrated you together; the only way you would have accepted it; and most likely, we would all still be together because you would have had it no other way, but now we are broken.

March 5th of this year marked five years since your passing; nothing has ever been the same. You have and always will be my hero and I know that no one on this earth has ever loved me more. Today, I celebrate your special day, your smile, your giving kindness, your wit, and all your talents, alone, but in my heart and mind, as I have every year since you left us. I still eat all our favorite foods too...that crazy, random stuff that people laughed at us for eating and liking...radishes, watermelon with salt, circus peanuts, dandelions from the yard with oil and vinegar.

I wish you could be here to see your three beautiful great-grandchildren and how wonderful my four kids/your grandkids are all doing. You would be so proud of all of them--lots of military representation too, just like you! I know you probably were less than thrilled to have been drafted for 2 years, but knowing you, you made the best of it as you did with everything.

I was always proud of you and so very happy that you are my Dad. I loved when we played on that softball team together when I was in high school. I loved how you always let me hang out at bowling alley on Monday nights while you bowled on your league when I was in grade school while letting me be up crazy late on a school night to boot. I loved working for Sohio/BP corporate after college and getting to hang out with you as "coworkers" at company functions, and loved it, even more, when folks learned you were my Dad!

Let's not forget that only time I got you out on the dance floor and you were moving it so cool! I think my best memory is when you finally gave in after 17 years of me begging to have a horse. I had found one I wanted and after many "no's", you suddenly changed your mind and made it happen! We spent what I recall being a cold and snowy few days building a little barn and putting up a fence on 1/4 of an acre so I could have her...and I had her until she took her last breath at the age of 30!

I loved it when you would hook up the lawnmower to the sled and pull us up and down the road in the snow. I loved it when you and mom would watch my kids for an overnighter and you always looked for things that were broken at my house to fix and I'd come home to things that had needed repair forever, all done. How about the time you let me shingle the roof with you, knowing full well, my part would be crooked (and it was), or the time you let me eyedropper feed that nest of baby bunnies and we took them out to the woods to set them free and cried like babies. How could I forget when we were chopping firewood across the way and that little kitten followed us home and despite the fact that you hated cats, let us keep him; and in the house no less! I loved that cat (Morris).

When I moved away and started my own career and family, I know you got frustrated with me often because I was always on the go, working long night shifts and running my kids all over creation and I was tough to track down, but it's because I am so much like you. All of my high energy and "busy-ness" came from you. I see myself in you in every photo. I have your eyes, among other features; like the way, one foot slightly juts outward when we walk, and how fast I walk too. People hate that I walk so fast, but folks used to say that was how they could tell we were father & daughter. I have your work ethic, your friendly nature, and your high energy.

I'll always remember when you hugged me so tight when I was about to move to Columbus to start that job. I was 20 and still lived at home; never on campus or with friends, so moving to "the big city" on my own was a bit overwhelming.

Today I celebrate your 80 years as my Dad and I will be forever grateful that I got 74 of those with you, but I wanted many more. In my mind, you were going to live to be 100; but cancer had other ideas.

We didn't take a lot of photos when I was little, but thankfully, we have all of these from some of our best memories. The world became a better place 80 years ago today because of you; your devotion to your family, your loyal friend to all who knew you, your kind heart, and selfless giving of your time wherever and to whoever it was needed.

I love you always and miss you more than I can express.