A week from today I will celebrate the seventh birthday since my dad died. I only had seven birthdays before he became my dad. I really wanted to do a tribute to him in October but I just couldn't bring myself to do it. I'm still pretty raw. It took two years to hit me and it nearly knocked me unconscious. But everyday I can feel him giving me a little push. Telling me not to cry, to get my work done and to take time to enjoy a freshly mowed lawn.
In 2002, my father passed away after a brief battle with cancer. He owned his own business. A transmission shop where he had been working since he was 9 years old. It was owned by his uncle and he pumped gas. His father took it over and my dad continued to work there until he was drafted into the Vietnam War. He came home, continued working there and eventually became the owner. He worked Monday through Friday only taking ten vacations until the week before he died. All he wanted to do was complete the sale on his business and spend what little time left with my mother. He never got that opportunity. At his funeral, hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects. One man brought a black beret that my father had left him when they were in Vietnam. He had kept it all those years and gave it to my mother.
Still to this day, people ask me, "Are you related to Mike?" and when I tell them he's my dad they say, "He was the greatest man I ever met." A mechanic, who loved his life, his wife, his child and everyone he ever met. That is the impact I want to have on the people I encounter in my lifetime. In thirty years, I want my daughter to hear people say something similar about me. I just hope I'm here to hear it.