Dads and daughters have that special bond. I wish I had written this before my father passed. I would have told him personally how he helped shape my life, and the things I saw in him that caused me to become more like him, as well as the way he lived his life, simply and beautifully. Instead of having regrets, rather, I will share these things with my own girls and make note so that his memory will live on and the virtues he possessed will forever inspire us to become better human beings. A simple man, larger than life, whose love, humor and spirit filled the hearts of many, couldn’t describe him better. It was the little things in life that gave my father the greatest pleasures. The love for food, watching a great ball game, a day at the beach. Just the pure appreciation of life itself made him happy.
I want my two daughters to know how blessed they were to have known their grandpa, aka “Grateful Bernie”, and to also know how fortunate they were to have spent the time they did with him, although short. It didn’t matter that we lived 3000 miles apart. Whether it was a two minute phone call or visits to California, time could not break the barrier of our father-daughter bond. So, in his memory, I am noting these thank you’s to my late father.
GIVING ME LIFE - Thank you for giving me life daddy. You told me a story before you passed on. At 49 years old, you told me I saved your life. I didn’t understand what you meant at that time, how I saved YOUR life. It was the story you told me about when you got drafted to the army, and the physical that was required before they assigned you. When they asked you if you had an infant, and you responded “yes”, they released you and stamped the papers to allow you to go home. I finally understood what you meant. But your way of explaining it to me somehow left a mark. The fact that you considered me YOUR lifesaver was very profound. I was your child, and you were my dad. You gave ME life. So as much as you thanked me, I am thanking you for bringing me into this world.
KEEPING IT SIMPLE - Thank you for always reminding me to “keep it simple.” Life is full of many twists and turns, successes and failures, journeys and stop roads, love and adversity. When I stumbled and cried, when I couldn’t bear to make certain decisions, or when I didn’t know if choices I made were the right ones, your three words of wisdom, “keep it simple” helped me endure those times in need. I am forever trying to remember those words to live by so I can use them to help guide me and my children now and in the future.
BEING GRATEFUL - Thank you for instilling this virtue, and for showing how grateful you were on a daily basis. You were grateful for the simple things in life. Your family was number one. We knew this. We felt this. It didn’t matter how much money we had. Family, friends and health were things you cherished. You prayed daily and as long as you had your wife and children, you were a “rich man.” No daddy, we were the rich ones, the lucky ones. As simple of a life that you lead, you were a force to be reckoned with. No matter what room you entered, you were the life and soul of any party. You lit up the room with your constant humor and gregarious personality.
BEING OPTIMISTIC - Thank you for always seeing the positive in life. You had that very special gift of seeing the glass half full instead of half empty, and your optimism made all the difference. It didn’t matter what stressful circumstance or event occurred, you always knew the positive way to approach a situation. Your simple words, “it’s going to be ok” portrayed not only how you lived life, but it also gave me and others hope to learn how to respond to adversity.
TAKING ONE DAY AT A TIME - Thank you for helping me learn how to practice living for today. I know that I’ve always been a worrywart, and constantly wondering about the “what ifs” in life. You told me that we often get a chance to start over. I know this had to do with your sobriety. You had a second chance at life, and you made a conscious choice to start living sober. You may have fallen, but to me, you were the bravest and most courageous man I knew. You helped so many people dad. You reminded them that there was nothing they could do about their yesterdays and to just “take one day at a time.” You helped me by reminding me to live in the present.
Thank you daddy for giving me life, keeping it simple, being grateful, being optimistic, and living by taking one day at a time. The biggest gift of all was when you came back into my life after not seeing you for 14 years. We may have lost those significant and precious years together, but each day I’m trying to see the glass half full. You’re right. We did have that second chance.
Love always, your little girl.