I’ve met many “Father’s” in my life, but several of them have and continue to have a lasting impact on me and I want to share these men with you……first off my Heavenly Father who loves me more than anyone does, even though I am so undeserving. He walks with me and carries me through all of life’s difficulties. Without Him I would not be able to handle anything in my life right now. He is the ONLY reason I have the energy, grace and perseverance to carry on each and every day…….
This is a long post……so I understand if you don’t finish reading but this is my tribute to some of the men in my life who I admire. I will start with the one whom I call dad.
My dad……for those that know us, you know the “apple didn’t fall too far from the tree.” I am my daddy’s daughter. Our personalities, demeanor, looks…..I got it all from him. He was my provider and protector for many years (even some years he didn’t want to be anymore, but we won’t get into that). We have not always seen eye-to-eye on things, but we have gotten very good at “agreeing to disagree” with each other. That is our motto a lot…..we can “agree to disagree” and love each other in-spite of him being wrong….ha! See how I did that?!?! We never meet strangers. We love people. We love to talk and most people hear us from a mile away, because we are both loud! He doesn’t care what people think about him, just like I don’t care what people think about me; but don’t mess with our family! He doesn’t allow circumstances to define him and he is always the one to say, “it could always be worse.” I could learn a thing or two from him regarding that. He is always looking for someone to help and he would literally give you the shirt off of his back. He has the ability to sell ice to an Eskimo and make it sound like the perfect idea; that wasn’t his! HA! He can negotiate anything, especially when buying something, as I have NEVER seen him pay full price for anything….so happy I inherited that quality. You should have seen he and I negotiating the sell of this house I now own! HA! He loves The Lord with all his heart and truly tries to be a light in this dark world for Him. He loves my mom and I have to say they have had a beautiful marriage these nearly 51 years. He loves his family, friends and his church. He still works full-time and loves his work family and his bosses. They are truly family to him and he will probably never retire. He is still the one I want to call when something bad happens because he has a unique way of turning the bad into something good and we end up laughing even when I want to cry. With each of Hannah’s 3 open-heart surgeries, I was strong, barely shed a tear, until I saw my dad and I lost it. Nothing like melting into your daddy’s arms when life is hard. His arms have always been there to catch me and for that I am eternally grateful.
My brother……what can I say about this dude who I adore? He is my oldest and dearest friend. He was my first friend, my brother, my confidant and my hero……still is! We are complete opposites and I drive him CRAZY, but I know deep down…..way down deep…..way, way, way down deep he loves me. Tracy isn’t one to use those words or show ANY physical/emotional touch or love but it is there. I remember seeing it the very first time I saw him hold his baby girl, Megan (who is now 19 years old). I always adored my brother but that admiration grew so much more when he became a dad for the first time. The love and care he had and still does for his children (especially from someone who has difficulty showing it) was quite impressive to me. He is a pretty cool dude and I am the lucky one to have him for my big brother and his kids are blessed to call him dad.
I have this picture framed in my home…..it is one of my favorites because these are 2 of my most favorite people on the planet!
My grandpa…….oh, no one has ever nor ever could hold a candle to this man. He was my #1! Losing him was the biggest loss I have ever felt and I still feel it to this day. Nobody loved his family, his wife, kids, grandkids and great-grandkids more than Chet Kriner. He had a heart the size of Texas full of love; so full he would talk about any one of us and he would get tears in his eyes. He was especially proud of his great grandkids……they all stole his heart and I wish he had lived to meet the ones that were born since his passing. He was the best in every way……he was always happy and joyful, never angry and always full of love and ready to help you if he could. He always spoke in kindness, without judgment and with grace and mercy……..he loved everyone. If the world had more Chet Kriner’s in it, it would be a better place to live.
My Grandpa Stapp……even though I never knew him, I love him. From what I hear he was exactly like my dad is now…..what’s not to love? I wish I had grown up knowing him but the Lord called him home at the age of 49. My dad was 13 years old at the time and my Uncle Lee was only 5. My sweet grandma never remarried and raised those boys all on her own. I could write a book about her! A precious lady……she has always had a piece of my heart and I know my Grandpa would have too.
My Grandma Stapp (left) and my Aunt Janie (right). They were sisters and 2 of my favorite people ever. I don’t have a picture of my Grandpa Stapp or my Uncle Dempsey but these 2 ladies were the loves of their lives and I think can be recognized on their behalf!
Papa G…….Mr. Garrison helped raise me. His daughter Tammy and I were inseparable growing up and I spent many days and nights living with them through junior high school, high school and college. To this day, Tammy is my dearest friend. All of the Garrison’s live in the Atlanta area and we try to get up there at least twice a year to visit. Every time I am with them, it is like “going home.” Mama and Papa G always just treated me like their own; I wasn’t blood but they treated me as if I were. Tammy and Michelle (Tammy’s sister) are my sisters; and Matt is my brother….no lack of blood relation will ever change that. Let’s not even talk about the way they love Dennis and Hannah. Let’s just say, no matter what Dennis and Hannah instantly became family too!
Me, Papa G and Hannah!
My second dad…….Bill Cutts……hard to put into words what this man means to me and my family. He is my dad’s best friend and husband to one of the most amazing women I know. He is a hard-working, honest man, full of integrity and character. He is a wonderful role model for my husband and I am glad that Dennis has someone like Bill to look up to. He loves Jesus, loves his family and I truly don’t know anyone with more integrity than Bill. I am so blessed to have him in my life. He has proven time and time again to be full of wisdom and insight and truly there isn’t a funnier man on the planet!
My father-in-law……a wonderful, compassionate man who raised a son just like him. Wayne is probably one of the kindest people you will ever meet and has a hug and kiss awaiting you if you are female! HA! He worked hard his whole life and just last year retired again….he retired many years ago (before I knew him) from his “real” job and then immediately went right back to work. He loved to work and his work ethic is one thing I know Dennis inherited and I am so grateful for that. He is a man who loves Jesus, loves his family and has many friends. I am blessed to say that he raised the man I call my husband and I credit Wayne for many of Dennis attributes.
My father-in-law (on left) and my dad (on right)
Don Wells…….oh what can I say about this man who knows what it is like to walk in our shoes. He and his precious wife Joetta have a daughter, who like Hannah has had several open-heart surgeries, along with many medical issues. Don and Joetta have walked this entire journey with us and have done so much for us and continue to. Don is a wonderful dad, husband and dear friend. Dennis makes sure every Sunday that he finds both Don and Joetta at church to give them a hug and hear a joke from Don; because he is full of them! Absolutely one of the funniest men I have ever met and you are sure to laugh and smile every single time you are around him.
Steve Zona…….okay, so I have to set this one up a little for you. He was my husband’s Sargent for a long time and became one of Dennis’ best friends. Steve is a wonderful police officer, Sargent and now the President of our Local Fraternal Order of Police. His work record speaks for itself but what I have had the honor and privilege of witnessing first-hand is what a great dad he is. He is the husband of my dear friend Kathleen and the father to Joe, Emily and Jack. He has raised his kids to love and respect people no matter their skin color, sexual orientation, financial status or age. He has instilled a strong work ethic in his kids and all 3 of them work and go to school. He has raised kids to be respectful to adults and authority. If I were asked to pick one person who had every quality needed to be a great dad, I would pick Steve Zona as that dad. No finer man, husband, father or friend and I couldn’t write this blog post without acknowledging him in the list of father’s I admire.
One of the kindest, sweetest men I know and let me say he harasses me like my own brother does……but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
Frank Rodgers……I really don’t have the words to talk accurately about Frank. He is the husband of my dear friend Melanie and the father of his two beautiful daughters, Ashley and Sarah. But, to us, he is more than most. He is Hannah’s 2nd dad! Frank and Melanie are the ones that have kept Hannah for us the 2 times that Dennis and I have had the chance to get away together and also many times for just babysitting. Frank hasn’t had to help Melanie but he wants to. He loves my little girl as if she were his own and she loves him! Frank has a unique quality about him to overlook Hannah’s disability and see her abilities and he has the power that not many people do to make Hannah laugh…..those deep, gut, hysterical laughs that we don’t hear very often. If you ask Hannah who she loves, she will say “Frank and Melanie” most of the time.
Hannah and “her Frank”
I could go on and on about the Father’s who hold a special place in my heart but I have to save room for one more…….
Last but certainly not least…….my husband……the father of my daughter……the man that I wouldn’t want to trade for anything or anyone in this world. The man who could have thrown in the towel many times but instead hangs on this rollercoaster ride with me at times with a death grip. Our rock, our protector, our provider and the one who loves our little girl with a love so big, so strong and so steady. He and Hannah have the sweetest relationship. I love the way they look at each other. The way she lights up (even when she is in a bad way) when he walks in the room. The smile that she gets if you just mention his name. She wakes up every morning and tells me, “no daddy back to work, here with Hannah all day long.” He is always gone when she wakes up, but it doesn’t keep her from saying that. He will text and she knows his text tone and will say, “Daddy come here right now.” He will FaceTime and all she wants to talk about is when he will “come home to new house.” She has things she wants me to do and things she wants him to do. She always wants me to bathe her and put her lotion on her legs and arms. But, after that she wants him only! “Daddy dry hair, daddy give meds, daddy rub lavender oil on back, daddy potty, daddy hand lotion, daddy say prayers, daddy bedtime.” Fortunately, if he is home he is happy to do all those things with her and for her and let’s face it I AM HAPPY FOR HIM TO DO THEM! He is her “play toy.” She wants him to play with her (yes and sometime that means my manly husband sits on the floor and dresses Barbie dolls). She wants him to read to her, do puzzles with her and sometimes just be in the room with her. I love that she wants to be around him. I love that he looks past all the problems (physical, mental and emotional) in our little girl and just sees his #1 girl. The one person he would do ANYTHING for. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Hannah is always safe with her daddy……he would sooner die than allow anyone or anything to hurt her. They are each other’s biggest fans and nobody loves Hannah like Dennis…….I am so thankful that they have such a special bond…….it makes my heart smile and on the days that I just can’t take anymore I know Dennis is going to swoop in, take the load off of me and do everything for Hannah so I can get that break. Nothing more special than that Father/Daughter bond and one that I am so happy my 2 loves share.
Happy Father’s Day to all the dad’s out there, especially those who suffered such tragedy last week in Orlando. The father of Christina Grimmie, the father of little Lane Graves who was attacked and killed by the alligator in Orlando and to all the fathers who lost their son or daughter in the Pulse Nightclub Massacre. I cannot imagine the pain they feel each day and especially on days like today. Not to forget all the mom’s who play dual roles. I know many of you like that who don’t have a real dad for your kids and you do it all…..Mother and Father…..today I am thinking especially about you and praying for you.
Until next time………