Today, only a few words are needed. Words like . . .
I miss you. I honor you. I realize you are proud of me. I will see you again. I am so lucky to know you. I respect all you gave. I could not ask for a better father. I love you. I hope to be like you.
God bless and keep you.
Always your Ace,
Oh a smile has so many stories to tell. My dad’s grin was, by far, full of tales and light.
My father’s smile . . . remarkable but humble. His teeth were oddly strong, but weathered by time and chewing tobacco. His eyes always twinkled in unison with his grin—a mischievous, dancing smirk. When more serene, he merely let the creases gather at the edges and cast a friendly glow of inviting grace.
In league with his smile was his wit. It ebbed forth like the steady percussion of feet on a hardwood floor. It lashed in banter—never too harsh or too scathing. It elicited groans of, “Ooooh dad,” and playful eye rolls from us kids more times than I can count. In awe at the stealthy backdoor approaches and barrage of jest, I listened. I laughed. I often replayed it in my mind . . . as I do now.
Look around to your friends, family and even yourself. Make note of that smile, and see how you can make it do somersaults with giggles and witty exercise.
In the world of grief recovery and the journey to healing, there is an awareness: the loss of one person is not a singular loss but the loss of many roles one person plays in your life.
Now, I do not want to frame this as a melancholy or morose statement. Instead, I prefer to celebrate the many facets and blessings that one person can shine on your life.
For instance, when I think of my dad, here are just a dozen of the “hats” he wore:
- Highly competitive Yahtzee champion with a knack for rolling the perfect dice
- Small engine aircraft pilot who took me flying in my carseat . . . in a doorless plane
- Car whisperer who could decipher clangs, thunks, whirs and screeches
- One-handed baseball hitting machine who helped me practice my outfield skills
- Dollhouse master architect with floor plans, wall angles and space for vehicles
- Swoop and cast fishing dynamo with the ability to bait fish . . . and me with jokes
- Smorgasbord master chef with an art for crafting dinner from random ingredients
- Spiritual seeker who welcomed questions, challenges and Biblical banter
- Last-minute Christmas shopping faux Scrooge who pretended to despise holidays
- Copy and laminating crafter who shrank, sealed and created memorable tokens
- Bestest and most timely voicemail offender with hilarious messages
- Loudest and proudest cheering section in both small and large venues
I invite you to write down the roles of those you love, or loved and lost. And if you knew Big Mike (my father), feel free to share other memories of him in the Comments below.
Today, I feel called to share a deep and flowing tribute that I wrote not long after my father’s passing. See if you can find the heart and hope tucked in between the words.
A Titan of Humble Scale
My father is the summer breeze
warmly cradling my cheek,
brushing back my hair.
My dad is my humble confidant
keeping me racing forward,
readying a dreamsicle parachute.
My daddy is beyond compare
offering airplane rides,
stealing good-night kisses.
My friend is keeper of smiles
teasing me into smirks,
laughing at his own jokes.
My mentor is a steady rock
guiding me on an upward climb,
holding me as I search for stability.
My world is built from him
meshing man with hero,
giving all to his princess.
What is a legacy? Some might say money, property or customs handed down. I prefer to think of legacy as the indelible mark an influential person makes on their family, their friends, their community and their world. So, here is my father’s legacy, may it be fuel for hope for generations to come:
- Giving with selfless abandon. Whether it was help with auto repairs, a few extra bucks, sound advice or a willing hand, my father was a profound giver. He often gave to, what some might call, a fault. However, it is this example of giving that showed me how richly the spirit receives by looking beyond itself to the needs of others. I am still in awe.
- A quirky and playful sense of humor. Always having a joke, a witty reply or a funny story at the ready, my dad could certainly amuse anyone who walked through his office door. I have seen the transformation from grumble to giggle of many of his customers over the years, several returning to the seat across his desk purely for the joy of his company. And, as close friends know, being awarded a funny nickname by Big Mike was like gold—it meant you achieved “in” status . . . although it also came with heaps of extra sarcasm.
- Family first and always. The eldest of his siblings and a man of the Word, he put an immense value on family. I recall many instances of helping family, loving family unconditionally and guiding family through tough obstacles. I know how much his folks meant to him and am proud to keep that tradition going strong.
- A work ethic that rivals Atlas. It was only as I grew up that I truly understood how much of the world he carried on his shoulders. Still, dawn to sunset (or later), he worked diligently to provide for his family, keep his commitments to customers and show us that work is only a bother if you don’t bother to put your all into it. Not a perfectionist but certainly a details man, I marveled at his thorough nature and integrity.
- A big kid at heart. My dear mom has been in the front row for many of my dad’s goofy voices, whimsical adventures and silly games. He loved to laugh and felt it his mission to make others do the same. Belly laughs, guffaws, chuckles and mischievous snickers (one of my favorites) all echoed from the deep lungs of this big kid. He enlightened us and lightened our days.
So, as you consider the legacy you wish to maintain for your loved ones or the one you intend to build within your life’s journey, know that the impact is not always monetary or material . . . the most valuable legacy is time, love and the ability to hope.