I’ve looked up to my dad my whole life. He’s consistently taught me things that range from fishing to parenting, listened, held me when I needed to cry, encouraged me to follow my dreams, compared cancer stories, and will always be one of the best examples of faith, family, and love that I will ever know. Tomorrow, he’s having open heart surgery – a double valve replacement needed because of the aggressive radiation that saved his life more than 25 years ago. (Dad beat Hodgkin’s when I was just a toddler.) While I 100% trust the surgeon and I have a good feeling about it, thinking about my dad going through a surgery like this really makes me stop and think.
I think everyone remembers differently. For me, my most beautiful memories are like moments that I can step back into at any time. Some of my favorite memories are with my dad.
I remember going to the lake with you in the fall. I’d sit next to the old stove/heater on that little brick-sized piece of wood covered with that awful green carpet. I was right next to the glass door (where the door to the big bedroom is now) and I can still feel the coolness from the door, the heat from the heater, and the feeling like I was the most special person in the entire world. You and Grandpa Scherrer both took me into that world and even as young as I was, I could still feel what a gift that was.
I remember how we used to read before bed. We made the L shape on your bed so that we could both see the pictures… I think we read every Dr. Seuss book that exists.
I remember listening to you sing in church as a kid. Soft and steady… I still think your voice is way better than you give yourself credit for.
I remember rushing through my bedtime routine so that I could come and sit on your back while we watched Mission Impossible.
I remember you teaching me how to ride the waves at the beach.
I remember riding to school with you. Thank you for not yelling at me when I made you late. Thank you for letting me listen to my music. Thank you for letting me sleep. 🙂
I remember feeling like I got to know you better through Latin School. Being able to talk about having the same teacher and taking some of the same classes… It made me so proud. You are so unbelievably smart and to follow in your footsteps made me feel like graduating from CLS was even more of an accomplishment.
I remember starting my papers at 9pm and having you stand in my doorway and say, “Good luck, we’re all counting on you.” 🙂
I remember getting home from CLEF. My first hug was to you. I missed you so much.
I remember that on my senior retreat they read your letter. I sat there and as I realized it was mine, I just assumed it was from Mom. It was so touching – all things that Mom said to me so often. And then it was yours… It felt so amazing that you not only took the time to write something so beautiful for me, but that you loved me and were proud of me that way. I still have that letter in my nightstand.
I remember learning to drive… How you had that much patience is beyond me. How you even got into the car is beyond me. I’m so grateful for all of that – especially that you didn’t yell at me when I drove into that yard. 🙂
I remember countless games of Euchre.
I remember watching The Great Outdoors… and laughing over and over and over again at phrases like “Big bear chase me!”
I remember the day I said that I hated you. I promise I didn’t. That day I thought you were so incredibly mean and unfair. Now, I hope I have the strength to parent my children even when they “hate” me. Now, I’m just grateful that you didn’t back down.
I remember the really hard months. Thank you for always loving me and supporting me – even when I didn’t even like myself.
I remember all the pictures of your cheesy smile. 🙂
I remember the night before my wedding we all sat and cried listening to the CDs I made for you and Mom.
I remember you walking me down the aisle. I still cry at almost every wedding I photograph when I see a dad give his daughter away. I can still see your eyes welling up. Thank you for that day. You and Mom made it amazing.
I remember flipping out because of that comment you made about me driving. Holy goodness was I ever hormonal. Sorry about my ridiculous pregnant self. 🙂
I remember you holding Emma and Noah when they were tiny… Seeing you with them made me happy in a way I can’t even describe – and it still does.
I remember finding out conversations when I was in the process of being diagnosed. You walked me through everything. Instead of having to research the possibilities, I could just lean on you and know I was asking the right questions. I felt like you were holding my hand through every. single. visit, treatment, and surgery. Daddy, I simply don’t know what I would have done without you. I know that I can be extremely independent, but that 6 months or so, I needed you so much. You were always there – gently encouraging me to stay positive and push on. You inspire me more than I can put into words.
I remember our Thanksgiving prayer the year after I was diagnosed. I am not exaggerating when I say that what you said is one of the highlights of my whole life. I would never have asked for cancer to be a part of either of our lives, but I am so incredibly grateful for how it’s linked us in a way that no one else will ever understand. I am so humbled that you love me the way that you do.
I remember a thousand conversations like the one we had at the Ed Colina Foundation’s event. You are always so supportive of Toby and me.
These are just a few of the hundreds I could recount… I can’t wait to make a million more memories just as amazing. I honestly feel like the love you’ve shown me in my 28 years is the closest to God’s love that I’ve ever come. You are my hero. Your courage, love of family, faith, positive attitude, and peaceful way of living life are all things that I aspire to. Daddy, you’re the rock of our family and I know you’re not going anywhere. I just had to take a moment to share my favorite memories with you before tomorrow. Hopefully it will make you smile and feel how much you’re loved. Because you are. SO loved. I can’t wait until you’re back home with us again and all this surgery stuff is over with.
To all my family and friends – if you could all lift my dad up in prayer tomorrow, I’d really appreciate it… Dad is one of the most amazing people in my life and he deserves nothing but health, happiness, and peace.
I love you so much, Daddy.
I couldn’t post without including a few of Dad with Mom… They love each other so much and I know the next few weeks will be hard for Mom. I just know your love will carry you through.