First of all "I love you, I love you, I love you." There are never enough "I love yous" in a lifetime, and I want to tell you at least one more time how very much "I love you"
365 days dad. I have survived 365 days without your physical presence by my side. I am not sure how I did it many days, but I have, and I am sure you are shaking your head right now because you knew that I could do it, it was me who had the doubts.
I have successfully taken over the woodwork you faithfully did for my business, I even learned how to change the routing bit - it may have taken two hours, and re-watching a Youtube video three times, but I did it, and you were the first person I wanted to call and tell.
I have done several projects around the house without your expertise, several involving power tools that I have never used before - I only cut through one plastic table during one of my early projects, thankfully I have all my fingers attached. I still can't believe that one time you cut your hand with the table saw that you calmly drove yourself to the ER and told us about it afterwards - I always think about that when I am out in the garage working. But that of course was a testimate to your calmness, especially in times of crisis.
I have worked to juggle all of Charlotte's cares with a focus on her quality of life without having you to bounce thoughts off - well I guess I still do bounce ideas off of you, I look like I am talking to myself in the car, and people might think I have lost it talking to the air, but I know you hear me, and you let me know the answers is different ways if I take the time to see them.
I have managed in my sadness to keep you alive for Sophie - we talk about you every day. She remembers stories and experiences with you that I am shocked about, but I feel so blessed that she has those memories. We talk about you all the time - Sophie especially misses the fruit snacks and m&m's you greeted her with every time you stopped by.
Junji and I have managed several minor (would have been major events in my past life) incidents with the house and our car - we have figured out who to call, and what to do - not the same as calling you but we have managed and I think you must be happy that we are self-sufficient because it probably didn't appear like we were really adults when you were alive we relied so much on you to carry us. Don't worry you did good, you raised me knowing how to figure out problems and what to do - it was just so much nicer to call you my dad. Junji always says before we make big decisions "what would Ralph do" and that makes my heart so very happy.
The past year I have done a lot of reflecting on the lessons you have taught me, the part of you that you instilled in me and I have realized just how much of an integral role in who I am that you had. I don't think I acknowledged enough all that you did for us...
I want to thank you for all of the practices, recitals, early morning skating lessons you sat through yet diligently took me too - it must have been exhausting and incredibly boring, but you did it all faithfully without complaint. Thank you for also not pushing us if we didn't want to do a sport, or weren't the best, you stood and cheered like I was a world champion even when I was the worst, and that is all that really matters to me know - because clearly I was not a world champion. I didn't realize how much sacrifice it took to be a parent until the past few years, thank you for all you sacrificed for me and for Chris and Lindsey to be a parent.
Thank you for all the times you embarrassed me whether on purpose, or just being your sometimes goofy self - if you are under the age of 21 and reading this - embrace the embarrassing times, they will make you laugh and fill your soul in your older age. Those times make me happy now to think back on and smile about, and it always gets a good laugh out of the family when we are together..."remember that time when dad..."I find myself checking if companies use Ecolab products every place I walk in to, and smile for you dad when they do, and wonder how dare they use something other than Ecolab for those that don't. Depending on where it is I will try and avoid those places of business just for you dad - that is of course unless they have good deserts.
Thank you for all the opportunities you provided for me to see the world. The fact is not lost on me how lucky I was to get to go on the trips that I did, and how many other kids didn't get that opportunity. I know I didn't fully appreciate it at the time, but I assure you I know how very much blessed I was to have those opportunities.
Thank you for making me go to college first before I filled out my application to the Real World - you really were right when you said I needed a degree in something before I did anything crazy. Thank you also for putting restrictions on things I could get put on my body and piercings I could get (and then lifting those restrictions about a month before you passed - specifically on the tattoos), I know that I would have regretted the tongue ring I so desperately wanted.
Thank you for paying for me to take the MCAT review course and MCAT not once, but twice, and then supporting me when the guidance counselor told me I was just average and would never work in the medical field and believing in me when others didn't. I wasted a lot of money chasing that dream that didn't work out, but you never said a word about it at all. Thank you for telling me when I got into nursing school that you knew I could do it.
Thank you for all the rescues, the car jumps, the late night pick ups - I specifically remember one on 35E that was late and involved you appearing to pull my car with your car home - I am actually not sure how I got a hold of you because it was before cell phones were a common thing, regardless you appeared and saved the day like you always did.
Thank you for being my person during all my health issues in my teens - the cribbage games, the Cheers shows watched, the sitting with me during my kidney stones, the forcing me to walk after surgeries. I know it seemed weird to some, but you really were the person I always wanted and needed when things were scary and painful, and you knew exactly what to do without me even saying a word.
Thank you for indulging in my over the top Christmas cards and birthday parties that labored on in my "free" time. You always gave me a hard time but I know you actually enjoyed my tiny details, and mostly you liked to give me more of a hard time and get my reaction.
Thank you for making me "pay" to use a car in college even though I complained and was mad at the time - I truly didn't know the lesson you were trying to teach, but now that I am a real adult I get it, and I am grateful that you didn't just hand me a car to use.
Thank you for instilling in me a strong work ethic, and teaching me to do things right - even if it takes longer or you have to do it over again. You used to tease me for being a perfectionist, but I am learning that that is actually what you were - I learned from the best.
Thank you for all the projects you did for me, I know sometimes it took you longer than I wanted to get them done, but I am so thankful to be able to walk around the house and see and feel all the things that you laid your hands on and did for our home.
Thank you for teaching me one of the most important lessons in life - that life isn't fair - because it isn't fair, and sometimes there is just no explanation for the reason things are the way they are. Thank you also for teaching met that even if life isn't fair that I need to pick myself up and keep moving forward, and that in reality I have a really good life - another one of your most important lessons you left me with. I really do have a pretty good life, and am blessed beyond measure even during the times I don't think it is fair.
I am sorry that I don't like milk - even though you tried your hardest to get me to like it. I can't say I appreciated you making me sit at the table each night until I finished my milk, reminding me that every minute warmer the worse it would taste, but I do appreciate you attempting to teach me to like something even if it didn't work with milk.
I am sorry for all the times I got mad at you, all the times I was a snot, or acted ungrateful. I didn't realize at the time how unappreciative it was of me to treat you like that, and I wish with all my heart I could take back all those moments, and change them into good moments - I didn't mean to wast precious minutes with you being a brat.
I am sorry if I relied on you too much - I know I probably could have put my adult pants on a lot sooner than when I did, but the truth of the matter is that I liked calling you for help, liked being around you when you helped and I valued your opinion! I will give you credit for being right 95% of the time - but just 95%, the other 5% of the time I was right, or at least I was sure enough that I was right that I could convince you that I was.
I know your "favorite" trait of mine was my uncanny ability to always get the last word in and my failure to let things go sometimes - I have to admit I haven't been very good at working on this the past year - I try, but it is oh so hard for me to not get the last word in, and sometimes, I just cannot let things go. I will work on it I promise.
I am sorry that I couldn't be there to hold your hand when you entered into your Heavenly home. I know that it was probably how you wanted it, but I wish I could have been there to be with you. I hope it wasn't painful, and that you weren't scared - I really do wish I could have been there to comfort you dad, the way you so often comforted me.
I am sorry that sometimes I am selfish and want to take you away from your new beautiful and peaceful Heavenly home...I just can't help it dad, sometimes I am selfish and I just want you hear with me.
But most of all I want to tell you "I Love you", because like I said, the many times I said it just don't seem quite enough. So I am sending you the biggest "I Love you" I can dad, wrapped in the warmest hug I have, all the way to you in Heaven. Thank you for being you, for loving me, for giving me all you did, for teaching me all you did, for changing the world the way you did. In honor of you, and all you were, I am starting a "52 Weeks of Joy" project. You will love it. Each week we are going to do something to bring joy to someone or a group of people. It may be big, or it may be small, it be in public, or it may be anonymous just know that each week we will be spreading Joy in honor of you. I love you dad.