Today, in most ways, is a normal day. I woke up this morning, took care of the animals, got myself ready and drove to work. On the outside, just another day. But May 31 will always be significant to me. Never just another day.
I’m concluding my musical story telling today, on this, the 10 year anniversary of my father’s final heartbeat. He passed May 31, 2006.
Over the last nine days I’ve shared nine songs that were, for one reason or another, special for me and him in trying to honor his memory and tell our story all the same. Truth is, we shared so many songs that I could write a couple hundred more of these, using different songs each time that represent a particular favorite of his or mine or a meaningful moment or lesson. There are so many thoughts to share and so many songs that provided the musical score for our relationship.
However today, for song ten, I will keep it simple with a very simple song which is actually written from a son’s perspective. However it describes my sentiment toward my own dad succinctly and accurately. “My Dad,” by Paul Petersen tells the story the best with his lyrics, “He isn’t much in the eyes of the world, he’ll never make history, he isn’t much in the eyes of the world, but he is the world to me, my dad.”
No matter about his life choices or mistakes, no matter the challenges and difficulties we had within our relationship, he still was my dad. As his little girl, I will always think of him as my hero. He will always be the first man I loved and who, in his own way, loved me back. I was, and am still, very proud to be his daughter. My only hope now is that he knew how I felt about him. That he knew how precious he was to me and how impressed I was by everything he did because to me, everything he did was unmatched by anyone. I hope that he understood that no matter how weak his body became, he was still one of the strongest men I’ve ever known. But I feel like he often thought of himself as inadequate in many ways.
This smart, funny, talented man who could not express love well and carried sickness and pain like no other I’ve ever known, he taught me more about life, love, relationships, work ethic, compassion, and God than any other person in my life. It was our relationship that shaped me into who I am, it was his hard work that paved the way for my own, it was his life that taught me lessons I couldn’t have learned any other way.
It’s been ten years. It’s hard to comprehend that ten years have gone by since I’ve heard him sing or seen his smiling face. Since we’ve danced to a fun song while I stepped on his toes, played our infamous piano duet or chatted away about sports or politics or the weather. Or, if we are to truly keep this real, that it’s been ten years since we’ve argued with each other or given each other nothing but silence. Because there were those times too. However, as only God can, it was those moments where my greatest lessons were found…
Ten years. In the ten years since his passing I’ve been promoted twice at work, I’ve started a nonprofit organization, sold a house (my first home that he guided me through purchasing and came to visit), and I bought a new home and then moved, added to my furry family, I’ve rediscovered another love – horses, I’ve even added two of those to my family (a dream my father always hoped would come true for me). I’ve lost friendships and relationships, I’ve lost other family members, I’ve been engaged to marry and then had that engagement broken, I’ve fallen apart under the weight of some very heavy burdens I had carried for too long and only through God’s strength and by His grace I’ve laid those burdens before Him and put myself back together again, finding myself in the process and having a deeper perspective on my past and place in this world.
In many ways I’m a very different person now from the 26 year old who buried her father much too soon who was just really getting started in life and career. I often wonder what he would say about all that has happened and the woman he would see today. One thing is for sure, despite anything that we struggled through, I know he loved me. I know he was proud of me. And I know he would have given his own life for me… because he did. Working relentlessly was no help to his ailing body, but he did it anyway. The pain and suffering he endured, he did that for me, for our family. So I have no doubts that he truly is my hero.
So for ten years, when I’ve needed to feel him close or be reminded of a moment, I’ve listened to the music. Through the music I’ve felt his presence with me through each of these experiences and more. I’ve remembered him, cried in sadness, been angry with him. I’ve also laughed when recalling funny moments, cried tears of joy over those sweetest moments, and rejoiced in gladness to know that in that last year of his life he finally found the peace for which he had always searched. The peace that can only come from our Heavenly Father. It has given me peace as well knowing that my last words with him here was not an eternal goodbye, it was more like, “see you later,” because I am assured to see him again. And I can not wait to hear him sing. Maybe we will even play our “Heart and Soul” piano duet too. I don’t think God would mind.
My dad. We often couldn’t communicate directly with one another, but music allowed us to speak. It allowed us to love each other and appreciate each other. Through all the challenges this life brought to us, through all the love that was quietly shared, he was my dad and so the music tells the story…
LYRICS – Courtesy, Google Play
He isn’t much in the eyes of the world, he’ll never make history.
He isn’t much in the eyes of the world, but he is the world to me.
Now here is a man, to me he is everything strong no he can’t do wrong, my dad.
Now he understands, when I bring him trouble to share oh he’s always there, my dad.
When I was small I felt ten feet tall when I was by his side, and everyone would say that his son, and my heart would burst with pride.
Oh I love him so, and I only hope that someday my own son would say, my dad.
Now here is a man.