4.29. A date stitched on the inside.
For the day my dad died.
Everyone remembers him for different reasons.
Some remember his laughs,
Some remember him for his words,
Some for his wisdom,
Others for strength.
Some called him Paul,
We called him dad.
Anise sometimes called him pops.
Mom called him PJ.
With all the labels, and nicknames,
A person without a Paul Johnson in their lives had missing parts of being a whole person.
Because he was the kind of person who told you things before those things even happened.
So you never understood ½ of what he said.
But now I know those were little seeds he planted in me before I even knew I was capable of growing.
He knew who I would become before I had even considered all the possibilities.
And I could tell him anything.
And many times I did.
But what I remember the most about my dad were the times when he didn’t utter a word.
Nights when our electricity would go out and I would read to him all my Harry Potter books, by candle light. And he would just sit and listen, and before the book was finished, we both would be sound asleep.
Days when we would argue, and before the day was over we would be up watching history channel together.
Or early in the morning, when he would take Amber’s radio and play all his oldies, Isley Brothers, Kool and the Gang, Earth Wind and Fire and I swear that I would never listen to that garbage again...before I downloaded them to my computer.
Or when we would talk about all the important things. Like love and forgiveness, family and friends, and most of all: How to give.
This was some of the things he taught me.
That I never imagined I would use or understand a day in my life.
Until he was gone.
And all became clear.
That these are lessons that survive after death.
Important things, that never disappears even when a person does.
And now I am grateful.
I’m grateful for everyone I’ve met.
I’m grateful for my family and my friends.
I am grateful for life.
And on this day, 4/29 I remember the shock of my father’s death.
I’m grateful for my Buff State support team and everyone else who on that day,
Who came together for me in that moment.
People who didn’t even know me for that long.
And held me while I cried.
And shed some tears too.
I can’t thank you enough.
And this day then became for me at that moment, not a day marked for death, but a day marked for love.
The love that has multiplied in my family on that day.
As my family told others and their support teams grew also.
People who never asked any questions, or pointed any fingers. Those people who were just there for us.
I can’t thank you enough either.
As the love between my family thickened as one of our own left us.
As we continue to live our own lives 364 days of the year,
On this day we come together.
Without being physically close with each other.
As we each of us rubs that hole inside of us.
And it might be harder for some more than others.
But my dad, always a step ahead, didn’t leave us empty handed.
He left me and my family with all the love we could ask for.
And today, I’m grateful, not sad.
And I stand before you humble and not broken.
But more human than I ever thought possible, as I remember my dad’s warm heart.
And can only wish the same for everyone else.
“What you leave behind is not what is engraved in stone monuments, but what is woven into the lives of others”.
“It doesn’t matter who my father was; it matters who I remember he was”. **RIP Daddy, Sonny loves you**