Loss and Gratitude: A Father Tribute

By Cindy Schoell, Board Chair

I was 4 yearkcs old when my mother died after a 4 year battle with breast cancer.  My parent’s were quite amazing in the fact that they never hid my mother’s illness from my sister, who is 2 years older than me, and I.  When my mother died, my father sat my sister and I down together, talked to us about her going to heaven, allowed us to attend the viewing, funeral, etc…just like everyone else who needed to say goodbye to her.

As an adult, I realize how amazing it was that my dad allowed us to grieve and wasn’t afraid of our grief – at least he didn’t show it.  When Mother’s Day was approaching this year, I couldn’t help but think about my dad. I have spent most of my life without my mom on this earth, but Mother’s Day was always a special day in our home. My dad taught us to honor those women in our lives who loved us and supported us. My dad filled in for such activities that are typically a “mom’s job” and once we were old enough to realize this, my sister and I starting getting our dad Mother’s Day cards.

I was blessed with 2 wonderful parents : a mom who fought like crazy for 4 years to spend as much time with her daughter’s as possible; and a dad who stepped in to fill her shoes as much as he could! As I was scrambling to have my girls sign the Mother’s Day cards I put in the mail late – I smiled in amazement when remembering how many Mother’s Day cards my dad made Amy (my sister) and I sign every year, as he purchased one for our Grandmas, aunts, Great aunts, neighbors, etc. (I have a very large extended family so believe when I say that it was a lot of cards!).

Now with Father’s Day approaching, I think about what a wonderful and loving dad I had.  He raised 2 daughters from the ages of 4 & 6 as a single father.  He attended dance rehearsals, dance recitals, choir concerts, teacher conferences, held us when we cried, snuggled us when we were scared, gave us consequences when needed, went prom dress shopping, wedding dress shopping and cheered us on to achieve our goals in life.  My dad – Larry Barnes – was simply the best.  I loved him and so much of who I am today, as a parent, friend, spouse and person are because of him.  When I was 27, my dad lost a quick battle with pancreatic cancer.  My heart broke.  Now 13 years later I am proud to say I feel him, and my mom, with me every day and my daughters talk about Grandpa Larry and Grandma Tina – even though they have never met them – because I followed my dad’s lead, and have kept the people I love alive in my heart.  Happy Father’s Day Dad!

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