Gary. Pat. Pede. Dad. Daddy.
Gone at 51, and I'm here to tell his story, our story, through my eyes. We all can use more healing, hope, and grace...that's my purpose here.
This is a story of tragedy and redemption. Our story. The details are full of empty dreams, tears, abandonment, loss, forgiveness, but most of all Love. Bear with me as this will be a series of blogs...but we must start somewhere right??
Daddy's girl. It's a term often applied to the relationship between a Father and daughter. It's supposed to be full of hopes and dreams and safety...but our story isn't quite so lucky.
My first memories of his face are some of my favorites. At 5 years old, he was my first love...my first friend, my hero. I am a Daddy's girl, Bohogs is my nickname from him (Lord, I have no idea where it came from but I own it still today). We were thick as thieves and the whole world knew it. Between birth and 5 we, as a family, had made it from our home in TN all the way to CO. The circumstances of why aren't important...just know many years later CO and those memories, lead me to the man who is now the other half of my heart.
Now, some of my fondest moments with him are deep in the Rockies. Camping, fishing, laughter, sunshine, snow, wilderness, fires...adventure. The memories are fuzzy and misplaced at times but they are always attached to his smile and joy. His charisma and charm. He sure was a handsome fella too. These times are when I remember him being truly alive. Walking. Standing tall. Living.
He taught me to ride a bike. Pushed me to stand up for myself and my brother. Showed me how to catch a football (well any ball thrown my way). Showed me that life is tough but beautiful and that the whole world is in the palm of our hands. We loved and learned. We made memories. Everyday.
He had big plans for our life in CO. Then, something terrible happened. Sharing the details of that moment will not bring it justice. And it's really not the point, however, know this...that horrific event...ruined my Dad. Ruined my childhood. Ruined our future as he knew it. Listen, the unruly course of action he took even until his final days isn't discounted. But for me...and this story...he was shot multiple times, with the intent to kill him, by a family member and became a paraplegic as a result...this stole everything from us. He didn't die the day he was shot, physically, but the death of his spirit and ours began. He never walked again.
At 5 I knew something was wrong, but couldn't fathom for years later the damage it had caused us all. No one was spared.
That's how God protects us as children. He guards our minds and hearts from evil. For many years, I had no memories from before turning 9 years old. Until I did. Do. Tramua they said and they were right. As memories started coming back each year I grew older...well...another time ok? I'm still unpacking some of that here in my 30's.
Anyway, at 5 (and always) my little heart still loved my Daddy exactly the same. In fact I thought it was strange that all Dads didn't have wheelchairs. It made no difference to me how he got around, just that he did. I'm still just as naive in life to this day. It's part of who I am. My husband says it's endearing. I thank God for that. Everyday. Although my spirit has been broken and even crushed at times over the years...I never stopped loving. I'm a lover and I get that from him.
So here we are...tradgey has wreaked havoc and now it's time to rebuild. This is where things get really ugly and complicated, but it's important that I share his parts of the story well. Because what happened to him is the biggest tragedy of all...and I don't mean being in a wheelchair at all. We are all humans, some just have different modes of transportation. Paraplegics are the same people they were before they "lost" their legs, but they cannot do it alone. It's what happens to the mind that we ALL need way more awareness on. I had a front row seat and my mission in life, at 5, became to love my Daddy through it...that somehow I could be good enough, strong enough, brave enough for him...
I believed I could always be his legs. And now I know exactly what that means. be His legs. Capital H.
We lost his earthly body almost 3 years ago, but my prayer is that his story, our story, will bring a legacy of redemption. Join me as I share why kindness is so important to me...for you never know the battles one is fighting.