The first first

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Today is our first first without my dad.

As you may or may not know, my dad died a little over a month ago. It was very unexpected. The simple explanation is his heart stopped and never started back again. He lived his last day here on earth as a normal day. He took my mom to the doctor, they went out to lunch, he filed his taxes…and then his heart stopped. Its been quite difficult to come to terms with him not being here because we had no notice. He played 18 holes of golf that weekend, he had started back working out at the gym, and he’s one of the few people I know who could say he lost weight during the pandemic.

People have said that the first of everything (holidays/birthdays) will be the most difficult and today is our first first…and maybe the most difficult of them all—Father’s Day.

Oh, he was an amazing father! And he loved his family fiercely. He lived a life in which he showed up for people. Everyone who spoke at his funeral told stories of him showing up for them in ways that went far beyond any expectations.

I chose to go pretty far geographically for college—from Chicago to San Antonio. In a very interesting turn of events, my dad ended up with a client in San Antonio during my first year of school there. I ended up seeing him about every two months. He would take me out to dinner, let me do laundry at his hotel, go shopping together, and bring a little of home to me on the other side of the country. It was an amazing opportunity to get to know and spend time with my dad as I was becoming an adult and grappling with my own beliefs and ideas learning all I was in college. He showed up at a time when I didn’t even know how much I would need him.

A picture of my dad and me in the lobby of a hotel in San Antonio.
My dad and me in the hotel lobby of the Hyatt Hotel in San Antonio

Even when we wasn’t near, he showed up. He got many a phone call right before he was going to bed while I was in college saying he should be expecting a paper to proofread in the morning. I would finish papers in the middle of the night and send them off to my dad, who would then read them over his coffee in the morning and call me with his suggested edits. He didn’t have to and I’m pretty sure it made him late to work on more than one occasion, but he would never had said no.

So many more things I could share (and might in the future) about him showing up to volleyball games, choir concerts, driving cross country, helping me settle into new homes and more.

This past year, in a way, I had the opportunity to show up for him. It wasn’t a year that I would have chosen for myself, but I’m so thankful that we have had this time together. From trips to Costco, to rides to get coffee, picking up Annie from her various camps and appointments, as well as having breakfast together almost every morning. We were company for each other (and my mom) in a time when in person interaction was few and far between.

I’ve gotten to spend the day going through his many collections of coins with my nephew. There’s been something comforting about getting to touch something that I know he had touched.

I hope you will humor me as I continue to share memories of my dad and a little about my journey through grief as well as some details that might be important if you ever have to face a similar situation yourself.

Lots of coins
Sorting coins

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