“He was really proud of me. He always said it too. He was so proud that I graduated high school and so excited about me starting college. I’m the only one in my biological family to get even as far as eleventh grade. Without him, I probably would have ended up like all the other women in my family: out on the street, with five kids, living off the government. He gave me a reason to try. Because of him I got to participate in things at school like choir, color guard, and theater. He always put a roof over my head and food in my stomach. I never went hungry, and I’ve always had clothes. He taught me that a real dad doesn’t have to be your bio dad. A real dad is the person who takes care of you and loves you unconditionally.
“He was always single; he never married, and I was the only child he ever had, biologically or not. Of course I’m a girl, so he very much spoiled me, but he raised me to be strong and independent too. He always gave me good life lessons and instilled good values in me. I remember him saying, ‘Don’t get stuck on sad things. Move on.’ He instilled a really good work ethic in me too. He said, ‘Whatever you do, whether it’s school or a job, do your best.’ Basically, don’t be half-assed about it.
“This summer, my dad had a massive heart attack at work and passed away---he was only 45, which is really young for a person---so I’m kinda by myself now. That’s why I wanted to share this memory of him. He wasn’t just my dad. He was my everything. My best friend, my mentor, my rock. He was life itself. He gave my childhood back to me.
“I miss him a lot. We just had fall break and that made me think about how we used to go to the Smoky Mountains this time of year. Fall was his favorite season, when all the leaves were changing. We’d get away from the city and out into nature and just listen to the sounds of the woods and the water. It was wonderful.”