It’s pretty common for people to say they see their mom, dad, grandma, etc. when they look at their own child. But with our son Garrett – it goes way beyond just a physical resemblance (although he definitely favors our Sicilian side 😉). When I say I see my dad when I look at him – I mean, I see his soul. I see past those warm and compassionate dark brown eyes right into the soul of a man stuck inside of a little man I call my son. The soul of a man who was also an old soul, and who left us all too soon.
14 years ago today on September 14th, we lost a very special man – my dad. And honestly, special doesn’t even describe the man that meant so much to so many people. He was truly one in a million, which is no wonder heaven called him home early. Although his time on earth was a mere 46 years – it was as if he’d already lived ten more lifetimes than the rest of us. He was just that kind of old soul and I am so lucky to have had his love and influence in my life for as long as I did. I still miss him like crazy and that will never change. But what has changed is the way I choose to honor him on the anniversary of his passing. Some years are harder than others, especially the early years, but what matters is how you use this time to move forward. So I decided to list out 14 ways that have helped my mom and me honor my dad each year his anniversary rolls around. I hope these help you if you’re in the same situation, and I know we’ll be swapping stories, looking through old photos, and reliving our favorite memories all day because that’s what he would have wanted.
There will always be things we take for granted in life. It’s just human nature to focus on the seemingly more important things rather than the things we do everyday. I bet you’ve never thought about how many times you’ve held your father’s hand, or remember what it felt like to be that little kid looking up at him walking hand-in-hand down the street. I certainly didn’t. Just like I didn’t know 14 years ago today, that it would be the last Father’s Day I’d be spending with my dad. He had been battling stomach cancer for two years and just had a major surgery that we were so hopeful would give him a second chance at life. I had just graduated from UT and it meant so much for him to see me walk across that stage and accept my diploma. Something he wrote in my graduation card has always stuck with me: “Raising you has been my greatest success in life.” Fast forward to later that summer, his health had quickly deteriorated and I’d moved back home to spend what we all knew were his last days with us. Although I don’t think any of us would have ever expected what happened next.
I don’t normally use my blog to write about the past, and more specifically the struggles I went through coping with my dad passing away from cancer. But when sharing something so personal means helping contribute to a very worthy cause, I couldn’t help but want to be a part of the #MyReelMoment campaign that’s bringing awareness to the disabled community of Houston. I have been blown away by the inclusive community here in Houston, and when Jillian from Cup of Charisma told me she’s now working with ReelAbilities, a free Houston-wide film & arts festival to promote inclusion and celebrate people with disabilities, I jumped at the opportunity to get involved.