Happy Birthday Dad

It’s not true, it really doesn’t get easier with time. All time does is remind me that my dad is really gone and he’s not coming back. Time will eventually try to fade my memories of him but time will never lessen the pain of not having him here.

Today my dad would have turned 67.

He needed more time. WE needed more time. I needed more time.

Some of my earliest memories of him include fishing, the lake and camping but some of my favorite memories of him now that he is gone are just the days we spent sitting doing nothing. The things I miss most are all those moments that when you are in them, you really don’t pay much attention to. I miss seeing him walk across the lawn, I miss the sound of him snoring in his recliner, I miss his annoying coughing in the morning, I miss his weird faces, I miss being able to call him up to ask him who someone is because he knew EVERYONE.

My dad loved that people’s initial reaction to him was usually fear. He was a big guy with a hairy face and always dressed in his dirty work clothes. About 15 years ago or so, I was working at a printing company in Fargo when my dad had to come and fix my car. He walked in the front door and rather than our receptionist greeting him, she snuck to the back and asked that one of the guys go out to see what the “scary homeless guy” wanted before she called the cops. He got a kick out of that but his tough scary dude persona ended the minute you really got to know him. When you really got to know him, you would find out that he was just a teddy bear with a heart of gold. And he was….if there is one thing I hope to have gotten from my dad….it’s his heart. He was a people person. He knew everyone and everyone knew him. While preparing for his benefit back in May, I went around to area businesses to pick up their donations for the benefit. Thinking I was just going to go in and out of all the businesses to grab their donations….I was tears as each person stopped to tell me something about how great of a guy my dad was and what he meant to them. I soaked in each word they spoke.

Dad was our hero. All three of his girls will tell you, he was always there…no matter what, when, where or why. He would drive in actual blizzards to pick us up or get us where we needed to be. When our cars broke down, he was always our first call. When my sister wanted to put her house up for sale, he drove to Colorado to help her get it ready to sell. He showed his love by doing. Perhaps one of my most treasured memories is leading up to my wedding day. He wasn’t much on hugging (unless it was my mom) and really never said I love you (unless mom forced him to) but he ran himself ragged preparing the farm for my wedding. The day before the wedding, I remember stopping to watch him as he buzzed between things, making sure they were exactly as I wanted. Seeing how hard he worked to make my wedding day perfect has been one of my favorite memories since that day.

Five years ago, my dad finally got a son when I met my now husband, Jesse. Apparently Jesse didn’t like my dad at first. As I mentioned, my dad loved intimidating people by his size and looks. Fairly early on in our relationship though my dad and my husband became the best of friends. He had his boy to buy tools for, go fishing and hunting with and do all the things he dreamed of getting to do with a son having had three girls. I secretly loved that those two would gang up on my mom and I. I loved that my dad would ditch me to take Jesse fishing or that he would only want Jesse to come into town with him from the farm. I loved that while I was gone all day to photograph a wedding, Jesse chose to spend the day with my dad. Without question, one of the hardest parts of losing my dad is that Jesse lost his best friend. I’m angry that Jesse only got five years with him. I got 38 and that wasn’t enough. They had so many more years of hunting and fishing to do.

My husband tells me often that I am a “mini Mike”. I’m not sure he always meant it to be a positive thing. haha! To me though, it is a compliment. My dad was SUCH a good man. When you die, people don’t remember what your job title was, how much money you made or how many trophies or promotions you got. People remember your heart. They remember that you were a good person. They remember that you loved even if you didn’t show it the way a person typically would. My dad was one of the best people I will ever know. His death will always leave a giant void in my life but how lucky am I to have had a dad that I can say that about?

Dad….I hope you are always going to “haunt” me from Heaven. I’ve always needed you and that doesn’t stop now. Giant hugs, birthday kisses and messy head rubs to say I love you. You were my photography muse and my favorite guy. I hate not having you here.

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    Fargo, North Dakota