Lessons From My Dad...On Love & Letting Go
Some days a random memory of my dad will just pop up out of nowhere, and that happened today. I don’t know if it’s this cold, dreary weather, which is sadly reminiscent of the day we laid him to rest. Perhaps it's the fact that fall is upon us, and along with it, Dad's love of the changing leaves. Or maybe it's the feeling that as the days, weeks, and months pass by, it becomes more and more real that he truly isn’t here. Maybe it’s all of those things combined. Regardless of the reason, I’m thankful for this sweet memory today, as it reminded of what a great love my dad had for his kids.
Back in 2003, my younger brother and I had (very suddenly and without much thought) decided we were going to up and move to Washington state. Because we were moving and at least one of us needed a car, we had to actually drive there – a two- to three-day drive from Illinois. We were 18 and 20 years old, and certainly didn't have any 'navigating-a-30-hour-road-trip' experience. I don't know why we thought this was a good idea, except that we were young and fearless and up for an adventure. Although I didn’t know it at the time, I later found out that it pretty much broke my dad’s heart to see us leave. 💔 In spite of that, though, Dad rose to the occasion. Back then (wow that makes me sound old), we didn’t have smartphones with Google Maps on them or even GPS for that matter. We had good ol’ paper maps and road atlases. So Dad pulled out the giant road atlas and mapped out our entire journey from start to finish. He talked us through which highways would be the best ones to take for the time of year (January 😳), how one of us needed to navigate for the other one (and that we needed to work together 😉), and where good stopping points would be overnight.
Looking back now, I think about just how extremely difficult that must have been for him – to literally help us figure out the best way to leave him and Mom and the comfort and familiarity of our home and family. I imagine that's how most parents feel when their kids are leaving the nest and setting off into adulthood. But what stands out to me the most today is how big my dad's love was for us. He put his feelings and wishes for us aside to help us go. I miss him so much every single day, and I wish he was here so I could tell him how much I appreciated his help and support and guidance as we struck out on our own. I hope he knows. All I can do now is ensure his legacy lives on – to take that lesson and learn from his example when, one day, I have kids and it’s my turn to let them go.