As I began writing Christmas cards, tears began to flow freely as I inserted photos from this year to family members and friends. So much of what I pass along to you readers came directly from Dad's life lessons. If I'm half as wise as he when I reach my golden years, it will be a true miracle.
The last time we spoke on the phone, it was my birthday. Part of me wishes I'd let him go to voice mail so I'd have his voice singing Happy Birthday to me forevermore. When he told me "I'll wait for you," I didn't realize how prophetic that was. He died later the day I arrived at his bedside.
His memory is, and will remain, strong. His blood runs through my veins, his musical voice rings true within my soul. His humor, decency and dedication to having fun every day, will remain with me as long as I tread upon our Earth. If you see me and I tell you a joke, it's Dad's influence which makes me strive to help you smile. Our job is hard, and so is life sometimes. He taught me it's important to find the good which shines, even in the shadows of grief.
Earlier this year, I had the most wonderful dream come true. I read parts of JUST DRIVE - Life in the Bus Lane aloud to my blind father. An avid reader his entire life, what pained him most in old age was his inability to read. He enjoyed my writing, and for 20 minutes, I read passages from a book I had written to his loving delight. It was easily the highlight of my writing career to read my work to one of the two who made it possible. Any accolades from this point will fade in comparison to that moment in time.
If not for my parents, I would not be writing this. My book certainly would never have seen creation if not for their fierce dedication to each of their four sons. Their grit, humor and intelligence drove me to heights not possible without them. To read Dad passages of my book was pure elation; it was done with carefully deliberate calm in the presence of incredible emotion. I actually practiced reading aloud before I flew to see him. Fearing emotion would cloud my performance, I firmly set my jaw and refused to be anything but strong. For him. Judging the look on his face, my father was both proud and entertained. He was my biggest fan, and for that I feel the most intense pride.
Rest in peace, Dad. Thanks for teaching me parking lots are among the most dangerous places to drive. Whenever I roll through a mall parking lot in my Beast, my eyes dart constantly in search for the errant fool who doesn't see my 20 tons bearing down upon them. Mostly, thank you for your dedication and for teaching me that dreams are the product of hard work and diligence.
To those of you who still have your parents near, cherish them. They adore you. When they pass from this world, their memory will be the strength which guides you forevermore.
Merry Christmas, Daddy. I miss you.