On this day, I lay my precious daddy to rest......
I can't quite wrap my mind around the fact, that when we go back to Florida in a few weeks, he isn't going to be there waiting for us, with those twinkly eyes and mischievous grin.....
Sometimes, life really stinks.
I wrote a tribute to my dad, he asked both my little brother Chad, and I to speak today, at his celebration of life.
I'd like to share it with you now........
“They say that from the instant he lays eyes on her, a father adores his daughter. Whoever she grows up to be, she is always to him that little girl in pigtails. His eyes light up like Christmas when she comes around. In exchange, he makes a secret promise not to see the awkwardness of her teenage years, to forgive the mistakes she would no doubt make, and to love her without limits…….she is daddy’s little girl.” Anonymous
My dad was strong, big and powerful, in my little girl eyes. He opened jars of pickles when no one else could. He was the brave one to go to the creepy basement storage room, all by himself, or head out front to investigate a strange noise in the darkest of night, and in just an opening of my bedroom door, could scare away the monsters I was sure were lurking under my bed. I remember thinking that nothing could ever hurt me when my daddy was around.
He cut himself shaving nearly every Sunday morning and would come to breakfast with little bits of toilet paper stuck to his face to prevent anything getting on his Sunday shirt. He could build a bowl of cereal like no one else, layers of bananas, cookies or cake, then cereal and milk to the top, almost overflowing….one of the few tasks he could handle in the kitchen.
Dad could sit on the handlebars of my mom’s bike, and ride backwards, all the way down the street without crashing. Well, without crashing very often, and going around town, he often had us kids in tow, one on the front handlebars and one on his back.
Even in the midst of going back to school, he always took the time to throw a softball with us, high high up in the air, or go on a family bike ride every evening.
Dad was a hard worker and a HUGE dreamer! He had business failures and he had business successes, but the best part was he boldly faced the next challenge with excitement, and a WHOLE lot of napkins full of ideas over dinner. The guy could draw up an incredible house remodel, or business plan, and magic would unfold, on that little white square. I learned to just let him talk and dare to dream BIG with him! I find myself today, a bolder, bigger dreamer because of his love of it.
We are here today to celebrate a LIFE well lived…..Dad made sure of that. He took every moment and used it to the FULLEST. He wanted you guys to smile today. To tell stories of the good ol days, and to LAUGH. This was to be a CELEBRATION!
For the past 3 years, daddy has been the 5% survivor of many different medical problems. He was the one to walk away the VICTOR from various forms of cancer, surgery, and counter effects to all the above. His FIGHT never wavered, and neither did his SPUNK. The man just kept on LIVING well…..Traveling, working and enjoying his life. The doctors were always shocked at how well he was doing.
Did you know he walked himself out of ICU, 3 days after major brain surgery, when a nurse and wheelchair were nowhere to be found?
He just took off on his own. Drea had gone to pull the car around to meet the nurse, and when she pulled up to the door, there he was standing alone with his bags, just waiting for her! You couldn’t keep the man down if you tried.
So let me take a moment, and tell you the life lessons I’ve learned from the man who called me PUNKIN…..
Proverbs 15:1 says A soft answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger. The man NEVER raised his voice! Literally. He, like a calm before the storm, got reallyreally QUIET, not loud, when trouble was amuck….. It probably would’ve been easier if he would’ve just hollered at us when Chad was in trouble!
Dad always taught me that “Laughter is the best medicine” (side note: Have you heard a Bontrager brother giggle? Best sound in the world!)
Dad practiced this moto everywhere he went! Fresh out of major brain surgery – the room is silent barring the beeping machines. Dad is propped in his bed with tubes and wires coming out all over. Nurses are slipping in and out to check vitals, and on the way out, one accidently kicks the metal trash can with a BANG. Dad, eyes not even open yet, says
“WELL, at least HE kicked the bucket and not me!!!!!!!”
My daddy, he taught me to be brave. To face adversity with a smile.
He taught me that “not all who wander are lost”. I am honored to have “wandered” across the US with him several times now, and it was he who cheered me on the loudest, when we made the decision to sell everything, and travel full time as a family.
He taught me to work hard for my dreams to make them reality.
That it doesn’t matter how you finish the race, as long as you just FINISH.
He always encouraged me to live out my truth, even when it’s ugly. Allowing my Heavenly Father to make a MESS into a MESSAGE.
He showed me how to lead with a smile and make lemonade out of life’s lemons.
Dad had people in stitches everywhere we went! Either that or screaming and jumping in the air from his GYNORMOUS sneezes! (If you have ever been around my dad during a sneeze, you KNOW what I am talking about!!!!)
He showed me that we GO BIG then go home. My Dad literally just lived that out in front of my eyes.
A few years ago, dad had a dream. He told us later, he saw Nora, his mother, who passed away when he was young, on the other side of a fence. She was young, beautiful, smiling and waving at him. As he moved towards her she said,
“Not yet, Clarence. Not yet.”
I know a joyous reunion just happened in Heaven this past week: mother, father, brothers, grandchildren, family, friends, race fans, a stranger, who was touched by dad’s life and laughter…...
And I know, one day when I walk through Heaven’s gates, I’ll see those twinkly eyes again and that big smile and hear, “Hey PUNKIN!”
Oh, what a glorious day that will be!!!!
Until then, I have to teach my heart to just keep beating. My mind to house the many memories I have with him. To tell my ears to hang on to the sound of his laughter, and my arms, the feeling of his, wrapping me tight in a warm hug, as he brushes a kiss by my ear……
And I‘ll just keep smiling and laughing in honor of his sunshine-y ways.
My daddy gave me the greatest gift anyone could give another person, he believed in me, even during times I didn’t believe in myself. He always knew I could, and so…
I can’t say good bye today, I won’t, although it’s easy to feel the sting of loss. There is SUCH finality to this day.
But, with Jesus, we know this isn’t the end, it’s merely the beginning of something quite unimaginable……something breathtakingly beautiful.
So instead of goodbye I say,
So long for now, daddy, so long for now.
I sure do love you.
Please cover us in your prayers today, we need strength, peace, courage....Jesus knows.