Wednesday, July 1, 2009

This One's For My Dad

This Saturday, the Fourth of July, the 233rd birthday of our country, will mark the fifteenth anniversary of my dad's death.

And to think, I almost forgot. Not about him, of course, but rather the day, the anniversary, the number of years.

It's really incomprehensible to me when I look at the numbers. Fifteen years. I was just thirteen when he died so that means that I've now lived more years without him than with him.

It also comes into perspective when I think that the three most important people in my life would be complete strangers to him if he came back. But of course, he's not coming back so that means those three people are just as close to him as they are to me as he shines up there in heaven praying for all of us.

If I were an outsider I would think what a bummer it would be to have such a somber anniversary land on such a fun holiday every single year.

But somehow it's never been like that.

Early on there were tears shed, for sure. But as time has gone by the tears have been replaced by laughter and funny stories.

My dad died doing what he loved best of all. Spending time with his family on the beautiful lakes of Minnesota.

So I think subconsciously every member of my family does the same thing each year almost as a tribute.

We don't always go to the same place and we're not always all together but more often than not we're outside, on a boat, in the water or just lounging in a lawn chair. And we're always in the company of good friends and family.

Those were the times he cherished most and as I've gotten older I understand why.

He had an ugly swimsuit. He paired it, most likely, with a Timberwolves t-shirt; a team he never watched. He insisted on wearing leather moccasins instead of sandals. He wore the most ridiculous bright yellow sunglasses you've ever seen. He loved cheap beer and he swore too much.

But none of that mattered to those who knew and loved him most. He loved his family and would walk through fire for his friends.

It's true what they say, you know. How to measure a man's life. It's not the house he lived in. It's not the professional titles he's held. It's not the number in his bank account or even the kind of car he drove.

It was the love and kindness he spread out to others that sent hundreds to wish him farewell.

This holiday weekend I hope you're all lucky enough to spend it with the ones you love best of all. Those are the cherished times in life.

And if you knew Joe you might want to throw back a Grain Belt just for good measure.


  1. Goosebumps. :*) Thanks for bringing back fun memories Jenny. I remember the leather moccasins like it was yesterday. I think about your dad all the time, especially this time of year. And again when it's Ashley's turn to water ski. :) Have a fun 4th - we'll be missing you all this year!

  2. I didn't know your Dad Jenny but your little tribute to him moved me to tears.

    I hope you and your family have a fabulous day celebrating his life.

  3. Jen... Like I said on the phone... you are an awesome mom and your dad is watching you and your sweet little family and probably grinning from ear to ear. Your blog is also AMAZING. Wish I could blog like this. You rock girl.

  4. Heres to you Joe,you live on forever in our hearts and you will never be forgotten,you would be so proud of your children and the wonderful way,your wife,their mother raised them.Im sure you know that though,cuz you are looking down from Heaven,give my dad a hug for me,i miss him so much,Love always,Nancy

  5. Jenny, you are so lucky to have such a great family and have such great faith! I remember that day very well. We were on the same lake that day with Snyders. It may sound crazy, but I think about that every 4th of July every year, it is a day I will never forget. I will be thinking about you and your family this weekend. Have a great weekend with your beautiful family, you have one heck of an angel watching over ya'll!


  6. I didn't know that your dad died when you were 13, Jenny. That must have been so hard for you and your family.

    How wonderful that you choose to celebrate his life every year "on the beautiful lakes of Minnesota."


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