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Monday, May 9, 2011

A Special Anniversary - My Family History - Dad's Story Part I, A Tribute


Hello Loving and Caring Friends,

I have a little bit of personal information to share with you today.  Today is the 8th anniversary of my dad's death.  He passed away from stomach cancer that eventually turned into a very fast spreading liver cancer.  The stomach cancer is a hereditary type so I have to always be on guard with that.  Anyways, every year this day rolls around and everything comes flooding back to me.  I was there when he passed and that memory will be one that I will never lose.  Every year on this day, I always want to do something special for my dad, but can never think of what.  I'm going to try to create a scrapbook layout later if I can bear to.  I still have a very hard time pulling out the pictures so this will be a real challenge for me if I am able to do it.  There is a lot in this post and if you don't want to read it, I would request that you please skip down to one really important section...What I've learned.  Please take the time to read this as it may help you.  Please ask me questions if you want to know more about any one of those topics.

To start, I wanted to share with you some little facts about my dad and then some lessons I've learned either from him directly, or since his passing.  I hope that's ok with you all and of course, you don't have to read on if you have no interest.  This really is something I'm doing for me so it's ok if you don't want to know all of this stuff.  It is a long post.

First of all my dad was born in 1941 in Chicago, IL and moved to Colorado in 1976, where he lived until he was 61 (age of his death). Had he been alive, he would be 70 his November 26th.  He married my mom at the age of 21 (she was just 16)! My parents had just celebrated their 40th anniversary a few months before he passed. (Feb. 25th to be exact, three days before my birthday). They had my brothers in 1963 and 1965.  I came along quite a bit later (as a bit of a surprise) in 1979!  My dad grew up in Chicago with three brothers and his Ma and Pa.  That's what he called them. :)  I never did meet my Grandpa.  He died around the same age my dad did, I think. I was lucky enough to spend a lot of my childhood with my grandma, however.

Before I was born, my dad was a musician for a while until he broke his arm and it was set incorrectly.  He had a pretty rockin' band I guess and even did opening acts for people like Marty Robbins and Chubby Checker and the Dave Clark 5.  I'm sure lots of you won't know who they even are, but I sure do and I'm proud to say that about my dad.  Other jobs he did before I was born was being a cop in Chicago (of all places!)  It was a rough job for him and I don't even know how long he did this.  I just heard a few stories here and there, but I know he was a cop while my brothers were little.  Later in life, my dad got his music bug back again and started up a band and played all the time for the last few years of his life.  He had a band with his best friend who is now my stepfather!

When I came along, my parents and brothers had moved to Colorado and my dad did mostly electrical work, sign painting, and selling things at flea markets.  We were in the Southwest corner originally.  He traveled sometimes for work until I was 12 and then we moved to Colorado's Western Slope.    My dad was always an entrepreneur and I really only remember him having one job where he actually wasn't his own boss.  He taught us kids everything and we have followed suit!  We are all entrepreneurs too!  My oldest brother took over the flea market business and still does that and is very successful.  He also owns a store.  My middle brother took over the sign shop and became very successful at that (he sold it a few years ago and now does a multitude of things) and my first husband and I took over my dad's electrical contracting company.  My ex still owns and runs it to this day.  My dad taught him everything he knew about the business and my ex is very successful at it!  I learned how to work for myself too and I can't imagine working for someone else unless it's doing something I really love.  He taught us all that we could do anything we set our minds too.  My dad could do anything and was so great at everything.  It was amazing really, how smart and talented he was.  He was an artist as well (as are my mom, middle brother and myself). 

Now I'm making it sound like my dad was just perfect, which of course, he was not.  He had a hot temper and often his children paid the price of that, but as he got older, his temper got cooler.  We all respected him still very much and I loved him more than I ever knew at the time.  Often I find myself wondering about how my dad would handle a problem or a situation that I'm having, in order to get through it and it really works for me.  I always felt so safe with my dad.  Nothing could ever scare or hurt me.  For the first year or so, there were many times when I would pick up the phone to call him to ask a simple question and then the realization that he was gone would hit.  Losing someone you love is the hardest thing you will ever go through in this life, I believe.

On a bit of a happier note, I'd like to share with you some interests and loves of my Dad...

Some of my dad's favorite things in no particular order were:
  • music
  • art
  • creating and inventing
  • woodworking
  • potato chips :0)  & candy (lots of it!)
  • guitars
  • nice cars
  • travelling
  • fishing - we always went and he and my brothers and ex-husband entered many tournaments through the years
  • his garage (it looks the same to this day - I still can't go in there because things are still lying where he left them)
  • TV Shows like - Alf, Bonanza, Dinosaurs, Evening Shade (shows that most people have long ago forgotten, but I never will)
  • Laurel & Hardy - don't know who they were?  You better look 'em up if you're gonna be my friend! LOL ;0) 
  • visiting his brothers - they all lived in separate states - we were in Colorado, his brother Bob was in Chicago, Ray lived in Arizona, and John Jr. lived in Minnesota (fun trips for us!)
I'm sure there's a million more things, but my gosh, I am sure I am boring you all to death!  To finalize this post, I just wanted to share some things that I have learned and that I live by, thanks to my dad.

  1. Never leave or hang up the phone without saying you love someone (if you do of course, love them) or say goodbye or stay safe or whatever, but never hang up the phone even if you are angry.
  2. Life is short.  Don't work yourself to death.  Forget about retirement.  Live now, while you are young and while you are able.  Cleaning and sleeping can be done later.  Don't waste your chances and time you could spend doing what you want to do.  My biggest pet peeve is people who can't go anywhere or do anything because they have to clean their house constantly.  I'm tidy, but not spotless, and I like a clean house too, but I will never let it interfere with my relationships and doing things I want to do.
  3. I learned to lose my anger almost completely.  We have very hot tempers in my family and I used to be horrible!  I have learned to control that and my life is sooooooo happy now.  I stopped being angry and mean almost the instant my dad died.  There is NO reason to treat another person like they are not worth as much in this world as you are.  Every person deserves love, kindness, and respect... especially if they are kind to you.
  4. Never take anyone close to you for granted.  One day they or you will be gone.  It's as simple as that.  Be thankful for the people who surround you.
  5. Life is too short to not do what you really want to do or to stay in a situation because of guilt or fear or whatever it may be.  My motto for the last 8 years has been "Never Settle".  And I do mean that!  NEVER SETTLE FOR LESS THAN WHAT YOU DESERVE, which is true and utter happiness and love in every way.
  6. Don't let ANYONE treat you badly.  Don't allow it to happen.  Don't just sit there.  Tell them you are a wonderful person and deserve to be treated as nothing less than that.  Nobody can walk all over you unless you allow it.  Stand up for yourself!
  7. Be thankful for all you have. 
  8. Don't expect someone to make you happy.  Be happy with yourself, with being by yourself because in the end, all you have left is you.  Everyone is on their own journey.
On that note, I am closing this post.  I have exhausted myself, but in a very good way.  I hope this touched at least one person.  If it did, that will make writing this even more worth it. :0)  Thank you all for hanging in there with me through this day.  It is a very rough one and you can bet I'll be crying more than once.  I miss my dad terribly and no matter what anyone says, that will never ever stop.  I will always cry on the day he died, on his birthday, Christmas Eve, Christmas day and Valentine's day.  Those were all special days with my dad and I want to remember him and honor him with my thoughts and prayers and tears those days.  Thank you again for listening and have a wonderful day/evening.

Extra hugs today,
Amy Jo


Kate said...

Thanks for sharing this. It sounds as though your dad lived a fascinating life! Thanks for your lessons, too. They are so true and so important! #5 resonates with me as I left teaching to go back to school - something that I'd wished I had done for over 2 decades. I decided that life was to short to not follow my dreams!
My thoughts and prayers are with you as you take time to reflect on the memories you have of your father. xox

Sarah said...

Thank you for sharing about your dad. I lost my dad on Easter Monday 13 years ago, and it is still hard for me. I want you to know that you are not alone, I still cry on the day that he died, his birthday,and all holidays. heck I am crying now just trying to write this. I know the pain of losing your dad and I know that nothing anyone says helps but I want you to know that I will be thinking and praying for you today. I hope that peace and comfort will be with you.

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