To Daddy-O, With Love

If you’ve noticed my absence in the past week in a half, it’s because of an incredibly sad event that happened in my family. My dad (who I lovingly called Daddy-O) passed away on May 24th.

In a post from February, I noted that there was a family emergency that kept us from vacationing in Florida. Well, that emergency was the beginning of my dad being sick. They thought he had an ulcer, then an operable tumor. But 96 days later, he passed away from stage 4 duodenal cancer that had spread to his liver.

It is no question that my family is incredibly sad. However, the love that we have been shown by friends and family has been a great support.

I thought that the best way to explain what my dad meant to me would be in the speech that I read at his funeral:

Throughout my life, I have been told on almost a daily basis that I am just like my mom. It’s true that I look like her, sound like her, and share many of the same interests and personality traits. But even though she and I are so much alike, I would say that some of the strongest aspects of my personality come from my Daddy-O, Frank.

If you knew me before the age of 14, you would not have seen me performing “I Am Sixteen, Going on Seventeen” in a gazebo in the middle of a crowded park. Or jump into a spring inhabited by alligators. Or sit on the raised hull of a Hobie cat as it flew across the waters of the Chesapeake Bay. You would not have seen these things because it wasn’t until I was almost 14 that I met Frank. His confidence and enthusiasm were so infectious that I couldn’t help but feel inspired to try things that I never would have before. I’m terribly scared of heights–what was I doing jumping from a tower into Wakulla Springs? Well, Frank believed in me, and therefore, I believed in myself. He would have believed that I could comfortably speak in front of all of you today, and I know that his confidence in me is allowing me to do so.

Frank was well-known for his sense of humor. In fact, if we ever told him that his jokes seemed unending, he would threaten to retire from comedy, only to have us cracking up at a joke a few minutes later. Over the years, whenever I would make a joke myself or say some witty comment, Frank would laugh and ask, “Who made you so funny?” And he would be so proud when I would reply, “You did!” I know that anytime I’m able to make Alice laugh, I’ll silently thank Frank for instilling in me the ability to do so.

While being outgoing and funny are great traits to possess, the aspect of Frank’s personality that I truly hope to one day acquire (and the one that I will miss the most) is how caring he was. He cared for his mother with such incredible devotion up until the very last moments of her life. He cared for every tree and plant on our property and tended them with love.  He listened with an attentive ear all year to find the absolute perfect Christmas gifts for my mom. He sat with Teddy for hours each week, brushing every knot out of his fur. And while he constantly showed everyone in his life how much he cared for them, here’s an example that I think shows the undeniable love of a dad: during my senior year of high school, I had to walk through Herring Run Park to the bus stop every day. Wanting to keep his daughter safe, Frank woke up early every morning and walked me to the bus stop.

Daddy-O, I want you to know that in less than 5 years, when I’m holding Alice’s hand and walking her to the bus-stop, I know that you’ll still be caring for her, and we’ll be holding you in our hearts.

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