I don’t really like to think of sad things, or things that make me overly emotional. Come to think of it, I don’t actually like to think. I’d much rather sit and stare and convince others that I am deep in thought, when actually I’m humming the dueling banjos song. Ba na ner neer ner ner ner ner nern.
But I’m going to stretch and think of a sad thing: this month marks the 7th year that my step-dad, Paul has been dead. I must pause for a moment and explain that my step-dad was not just some schmuck that my mom married. He was so much more. My mom and dad divorced when I was barely three, and within months, my mother had moved in with the next door neighbor (my step-dad and his two daughters). Apparently this was scandalous at the time, but to me, a wee toddler, it brought me solace in the form of a warm and suddenly larger family. Paul instantly became a father figure and took a very active roll in raising my brother and me. He taught me how to drive a car, how to be independent, and he encouraged me to do something great with my life. He would take me to football games, car shows, and every Saturday morning we would walk the dogs in the hills behind our home.
We had a vacation house at a lake in Arizona. Our home was on top of a cliff that overlooked the water, and it was surrounded by dirt paths perfect for ATV riding. We had 5 ATVs, and it was fun to ride around and pick out crusty black boogers afterwards. A weekend in May, 7 years ago, Paul went up to the river and rode his ATV along the dirt paths. He lost control and fell off. He broke his neck and instantly died.
My breath got caught in my chest the moment heard that he had died. I lost a father and a role model. My world became numb. Grandparents and extended family had died in my life time, but this was the type of pain that was unbearable. I had lost a parent, and someone who can take credit for me being who I am today. I wish he was still here, but when I think of how my life changed after he died, I can see how his death forced me to grow up, and become a stronger person.
I think he would be happy with the way my life turned out. I think he’d be impressed with the amazing man I married, and I’m positive he would be so incredibly in love with Berlyn.
Cheers to you Paul, for impacting my life in such a positive and inspiring way.