Love you and miss you Papa Bear: Jan 15, 1953- Nov 20,2013
Who was my Papa Bear? Who was the man who put me on his shoulders so I could see the just how high my dreams could reach? Who was the man who wrapped his arms around me so I could know I was loved and that everything would be alright? Who was the man who held me up when the world tried to knock me down? He was my everything, is my everything. He was the reason I clung onto to fight. He was the reason I knew everything would be okay. He was my peace when the world started shaking beneath my feet. Plain and simple..he was my dad. My Papa Bear.
My dad was my joy. When I had the hardest, longest day. When I was crumpled in tears on the ground, I knew who to call. The simple “Hey Jess” was enough to bring a smile back to my face. I knew no matter how broken I felt…in the next few moments I would be okay. My dad would say the right thing, crack the right joke, just be the man who he was…and my brokenness would be healed. And I know he will continue to be my joy. When I have a long day, when I am crumpled on tears on the ground…I won’t have to call. I will just have to look up to heaven…and I know he will be gazing down saying “Hey Jess.”
My dad was my motivation. He shifted from his career in product managing to life coaching right when I made the decision to switch from veterinary medicine to social work. I saw him accomplish his dream and get certified. No matter what people said. No matter if other people didn’t understand. He knew his passion and he followed it. He didn’t care if it meant less pay, he didn’t care if it meant not being the man in the fancy suit. He knew it was his passion and he knew it would change lives…so he did it.
And he knew the same about me. He knew my passion and love for social work. He didn’t care what people said about my shift. He didn’t care what the world told me about taking such a low paying job. He just knew it was my passion and he supported me all the way. He invested in me, in my dreams and passions. He flew me to Denver to explore my dream graduate school. He chased away my fears and doubts telling me to just worry about today. He would always tell me just because of who I was he knew I would achieve my dreams. And as I pursue my dreams, I know he will be there. He will be chasing away my fears and filling me with the motivation to fight for what I want.
My dad was my reason to fight. He was the rock I leaned on when I wanted to give up. He never told me I couldn’t win my fight with my eating disorder. Whether it was the first, second, or the 10th time I went to treatment, he was there cheering me on. He was there telling me I could do this. Reminding me why I should fight. Supporting me in the successes and the defeats. Encouraging me, supporting me, reminding me of the person I was…the person I was meant to be…the person God made me to be. He had this way of looking into my eyes, past the disorder, seeing my soul…and in every moment I was with him…making me feel like I was more than enough. That my soul was precious, that I was beautiful, that I was his baby girl. That I was something worth fighting for. That my life mattered…that I should fight. In some of my last conversations with him he told me to start and end each day with these simple words: “I choose life.” And I will..I won’t give up. I won’t stop fighting. And every victory I know he will be there cheering me on. And in every struggle I know he will be there guiding me to make the right choice. To confidently stand and say I choose life.
Once upon a time as a child you flew on your Daddy’s feet as you floated around the gym turned dance floor – it carried us to a different place. Now is the time for you to fly on your own feet, to listen for and dance to the music of the life you are waiting to, longing to, live. I love you with all my heart and soul, and I believe in you,Papa Bear”
I love you too Papa Bear. And I may not believe in me now. I may not see how I am going to put one foot in front of the other. How I am going to fight without you here. But you believed in me. No…you believe in me…and so…I will believe in myself. I will choose life. I will cherish every moment. And I will fight. Because I know you are here. In every sunset, every sunrise, every victory, every struggle, every choice I make…you will be there. You will be there cheering me on, carrying me, and dancing with me through life.
Be at peace my father, give Pop Bill and Grandma Ruth a hug for me, cook the best Thanksgiving meal heaven has ever tasted, show everyone the hidden treasures of heaven. The waterfalls they never explored, the heights they’ve never climbed to. Show those angels that you don’t need wings to be good at tennis. Show everyone that piece of heaven that was in you. And know I will be here fighting, living, and knowing you are with me. I love you Papa Bear.
Your brown-eyed girl,