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That is how many days my daddy has been gone – 8 years today.  I count the time in days.  Sometimes by months.  Sometimes by how many holidays we have missed him.

But the most heartbreaking and wonderful way that I count the time, even though I don’t mean to, is by looking at my son and my nephews.  My oldest son was 257 days young and my twin nephews were 52 days young when my dad died.  On the days when it feels like it was yesterday, I see them and remember that it has been so much longer since we last heard his chuckle or were the recipient of his great hugs.  On the days when it feels like it was an eternity ago, I see them and know that it wasn’t – they are still so little!  I look at them, all now 8 years old, and think of the things we have all done and seen and experienced since he’s been gone.  Their entire lives have been without him.  On the days I wonder what on earth I’ve been doing with my life, I look at these little boys and realize how full and happy my life as a spouse and parent has been – not because my dad isn’t here, but because he was…

My dad now has five grandsons, all of whom resemble or act like him in some way or another.  His legacy is strong, and it is continually fortified by my bond with my siblings and their spouses as well as the blossoming relationship between all our kids.  My heart weeps when I think too much about the cool little people who will never know their granddaddy.

All the things I love about him and all the ways he and my mom made my childhood full of love and joy are things I try to channel myself and recreate for my children and family.  He was a devoted husband and father.  A fiercely loyal brother, son, and friend.  He cared deeply about his community and his church and tried to give back in as many ways as he could both personally and professionally.  I doubt I will ever come close to filling one of his shoes.  But everyday I’ll try to raise my sons right.  To help them understand compassion.  To show them how to help those who cannot help themselves.  To show them how to be the good guys in the world.  To show them how to be kind to everyone without expecting anything in return.  Because that’s what my dad did.

Here are a few photos of my dad.  I don’t have many of him with the three oldest grandsons, and I’ll never be able to add any more to that collection, so they will always be deeply cherished.

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