a birthday.

Today is my dad’s birthday. He would have been 56. And yesterday was his Deathiversary. Yes, he died the day before his birthday…30 minutes before, actually. This first week of March is usually a rough week. Lots of memories.

My dad was first diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in 1999, when I was 13 years old. It’s a death sentence. First he lost his speech (bulbar form), then he couldn’t walk, and by the end he was on a feeding tube completely dependent on care. It’s a truly horrific disease.

He entered Hospice in February of 2003…I don’t think I fully understood what that meant at the time. We missed a lot of school that month. We’d go and read to him, and I’d paint his toenails, and we’d watch TV together. I guess we just tried to surround him with love, while trying to maintain some sense of normalcy. I just can’t believe it’s been 10 years, even though it does feel like a lifetime ago. I was 16.

He was a great storyteller. He was a former Navy Seal (Frog Man), and a great lawyer (asbestos litigator). He loved the Green Bay Packers, and sports in general. He would read to us every night before bed, even when we were older…the books grew with us. He had a sense of humor. He loved going to movies (one of his favorites was The Fifth Element). He was my biggest fan at my soccer games. And he would play four-square with me in the driveway. He was a great dad.

We went on vacations to Mexico or Jamaica at least twice a year, and I am lucky to have amazing memories of both my parents. For that I am very grateful. But I just can’t help but feel cheated. I lost both my parents by the time I was 24.

Anyway, I was going through a bunch of pictures, and I found these gems. I loved reminiscing, even though it made me bawl like a baby (hubbs can vouch). These darn pregnancy hormones are getting the best of me today. Sheesh.

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Me & my dad, circa 2000.

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Mom, me, Dad, and my sister. Dunn’s River Falls, Jamaica.

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Isn’t this epic? Awesome 70’s photo. I think it was his senior picture.

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Me as a newborn. September 1986.