I was so afraid to get up in front of everyone, it is something that has always really been hard for me. I don't know if there are any words that can express what a great man my father was.
I remember when I was young he would come in every night and tell us bedtime stories. And not just read them from a book, he liked to make up his own! He would pick Bret up and put him on his back and make him part of the story, while Sarah and I would watch and laugh. I remember the expressions on his face and how much fun he made everything.
I also remember him taking us up on the roof and jumping off into the pool, taking us for hikes, and taking me on walks around the neighborhood when I was a teenager. He always took time to talk with me. And if I ever had something bad to say he gently pointed out that focusing on the bad only brings you down. He taught me to have a positive outlook and to focus on the good in things in life.
He used to hold my hand when we were sitting in church. I always made a point to sit next to Dad so I could hold his hand. I remember going to a young womens activity where they had us put on a blindfold and feel the hands of all the Dads in the room to guess which one was ours. I knew right away which one was him since I had held his hand so much. I was the only one who got it on the first guess and I know he was very flattered by it.
As I got older and had my own children, I was so grateful they had such a wonderful Grandpa. He would take them to the carwash with him on Saturdays, and they usually came home with some kind of toy or candy he would let them pick out. He took my boys to lunch every Saturday with him and his good friend Bill. He made bow and arrows with my kids, and set up the zip line in the back yard for them. He even organized a food fight for all the grandkids, and my favorite part about that story is that it was his idea!! He said he had always wanted to have a good food fight, so decided to make it happen. They all wore their swimsuits and we set up a table in the back yard covered with bowls of spagetti noodles, mashed potatoes, whipped cream cans, jello etc and needless to say they all had a wonderful time throwing it at each other! He was actively involved in all of their lives and made a huge impact on them.
I remember him coming home during his work day with his group of guys to get an ice cream cone after lunch. I always thought it was so funny that he needed his ice cream break during the day! Another example of him stopping to enjoy the simple things.
During his last year when he was in and out of the hospital I got to spend a lot of time talking with him. He told me he didn't want to go yet, but if he had to he had no regrets in life. He said he had a wonderful wife and 4 kids, a job that he loved, and that he had been able to travel the world. Even as sick as he was, he focused on the positive and was so grateful for everything. He also told me to try and take time every day to stop and appreciate something beautiful around me. Whether it be a beautiful flower, or sunset, there is always wonderful to see if we remember to stop and look for it.
I really wish I could have had him here for another 30 years, but I am so grateful I had him as long as I did. He was the most Chrislike, gentle, and loving man. I love you Dad!!