My father lost his battle with glioblastoma. I want to thank you all for your support this last year. It was very difficult to watch my father go through this over the past 10 months, but it was beautiful to see my family come together to care for him. We are missing his love and enthusiasm everyday. He was passionate about Modehaus and always lent a hand when it was needed. I was constantly calling him for advice and insight. He was a regular at the atelier, always wanting to see the next dress we were working on. I wish he was here to see the new collection and the work in years to come. I gave a tribute at his funeral and wanted to share it. It is written below. I love you Dad.
I can’t believe that you are gone. I have been expecting you to call or send me some goofy emoji message for months now. You really had a knack for emoji messages and it always made us laugh. But you weren’t really able to call anyone or have use of your hands for a while. That’s one of the things I was most sad about for you. Playing guitar was one of your greatest joys. It brought you to a calm and beautiful place every time you played. A restless spirit like yours always needed something meditative to center you and for you, that was playing guitar.
Mom was with you everyday. Andy loyally came every night to help put you to sleep. We all shared weekdays taking care of you and Arnaud and Colin were up on the weekends. Under other circumstances, your children being home so much would have been your dream come true. I wanted you to know how much people have been taking care of us too since you got sick. All the love and care that you and mom brought to the world was paid forward through shoveled driveways, hot meals, sunday scones, hugs, shared tears, and comforting words. Friends and family have really showed up dad. And I know what an acts of service person you were and how much all their love and support would mean to you.
You always showed up for me. Whenever I asked, you were there with anything I needed. When I was younger, it was help with a science fair project. Remember when we stayed up way after bedtime making the rainforest canopy using swat camo gear and fake plants? As an adult, your acts of service only got bigger. You helped me move offices, built so many things for the business, and always encouraged me. I wish I could tell you adequately how much that meant to me.
You always showed up Dad. You came to every concert, every swim meet, football or hockey game, gig, festival, or anything else that your very active family had going. As our family grew with Arnaud, Colin, and Jocelyne, you showed up for them too. Your favorite days were the ones when we were all together. Whether we were sitting around the dinner table, around a campfire, or loaded up on the boat that always seemed to need repair or improvements. We traveled all over this beautiful country together. We’ll never forget those road trips all huddled in the van or camper. You were such an excellent driver but sometimes you’d forget that you weren’t driving a squad car. I’m sure a lot of families with police officers can attest to that.
Summers together were amazing. They meant that Andy was coming to stay with us and even though we fought like cats and dogs, we loved having his love and kindness around. Our family vacations were such a beautiful escape. We got to explore so much together thanks to mom’s well planned excursions. Remember when you got 2nd degree sunburns on your feet on that North Carolina beach? You never remembered to wear sunscreen. The second half of the trip was Washington DC and you had to walk all over the city and through the subway with slippers on?
Remember how every trip seemed to end with Rachel finding a creature of some kind? Like a snake or frog or something that she would insist on taking home? Or how Erin always seemed to get herself into life threatening peril on every trip. Remember when she was hanging from that boulder in Colorado and Andy bolted to rescue her? On that trip we blasted John Denver as we climbed through the rocky mountains. We stopped for a picture along the way after I got car sick.
Oma usually came with us too. You of all people honored how important grandparents are to their grandchildren. Oma said to me recently how happy she was to have you as her son-in-law. She’s so grateful to you for loving mom so much. We are all grateful for that. Thank you for loving mom and loving us with your whole self.
Dad, you had so many interests. Music, Biking, Fishing, Canoeing, Hunting, Shooting, Bow Making, Rendezvous, Building Things, Football, Boating, Camping, and so many more. Though we all can agree that your hobbies were at times exhausting, we loved sharing them with you. And so many of the people here have become our greater family because of all interests you shared with them. As your child, it was difficult at times to compete with those interests. But we all found our own common ground with you.
We thought we have more time dad. We all thought we had more days to spend with you doing the many things that we loved to do together. When this all happened to you, I started to regret every fishing trip or hunting season that I missed because work was more important. Or the retirement plans mom had for you both, the grandchildren you wouldn’t hold, and the fish you wouldn’t catch.
But out of that grief and sadness that we can’t share our lives with you anymore, we remember that you shared your whole life with us. It wasn’t meant to be any longer than it was. And even though it was 63 years, look at how much you did with it?! You were a son, brother, a hell of a marksman, musician, Marine, Vet, Police officer, sniper, northwoods critter, gog, davey crochet, father in law, friend, best friend, builder, maker, spelling wasp, cheerleader, chocolate lover, mover, rescuer, husband, and our dad. You did so much and we are so proud of the life you led.
There were many many lessons that you shared with us throughout the years. Some were lessons you meant to share and some were not. The big ones like, do the right thing when no one is looking or the little ones like always leave the biggest slice of pizza for you. But the biggest lesson you taught me was one I don’t believe you meant to. I suspect those are the good ones when it comes to parenting.
Remember when you tore me away from work to go fly fishing a few years ago? You always had a secret spot to go to that you heard about by some farmer or a guy you met at the gas station. It was usually a tall tale but you’d fall for it every time.
We packed everything up the night before and got up before dawn. You scouted everything with mom the weekend before, checked the latest hatch with a local guy, and were so excited to get some trout. After a few hours of driving, we pulled up between two fields to this row of trees that we followed carefully so not to trespass. The trees were thick but your enthusiasm kept us going as you insisted that the stream we were coming to was packed with trout.
We finally came to this beautiful valley with a stream stretching down the hill and curving into a forest. We quietly set up, me on one side and you on the other. Naturally, I did most of the fishing and you spent the next two hours changing your line. You were always changing your line with those restless hands.
Finally it was time for some lunch. Without making too much noise, we came together on one side of the stream. We crouched down and I grabbed some food from the pack. I could tell how frustrated you were. You were so disappointed that we hadn’t caught anything. I told you it was ok and handed you a summer sausage wrap sandwich. As I did, we both looked down past the food and saw a brand new baby fawn just between where we were crouching. It was so close we could have scooped it up. We were amazed. It must have been born just the day before and mom must have been watching us as we fished waiting for us to be a safe distance from her fawn.
We soaked up this moment, smiling, and taking in the precious encounter. We decided to pack up and finish our food in the car. On the drive home you returned to the sadness about not getting a single nibble on our lines that morning. You confessed that you worried I wouldn’t want to go fishing anymore unless I caught something. I remember hearing the greater worry in your voice when you said it.
I looked at you and said, dad, I don’t care if we never catch a single fish ever again. It was never about the fish. It was always about spending time with you. That was the greatest lesson that you taught accidentally in your life and when you left us. It’s about being present in the moments we have together, not about what we missed.
So, I want to thank you for all the fish we didn’t catch and the ones we did. The songs you sang that will live on in our hearts, the deer that you missed, and the trips we didn’t take. Your successes and your short comings. The nights you ate too much dinner and fell asleep on the couch. The times you were angry and the times you were tender. The lessons you taught and the ones you didn’t. Thank you for giving us your whole life. May we continue to represent the best of you for the rest of ours.