From his daughter, Amanda

At first i was trying hard to figure why all this was happening and why life seemed to come
crashing down on me all at once. I was angry, frustrated, bitter, resentful. But ive come to tell
myself that you just gotta let life unfold. You have to trust that it all works out in the end, and if its
not okay, its not the end. Im a firm believer that every thing happens for a reason. At first, i didnt
see the reasoning behind all this. Why at such a young age did i have to lose my dad? Why
would the universe give me this awful antagonizing pain? Whyd i only get 18 years with him,
and now have to spend the rest of my life without him? Not being able to tell him my
achievements, my dreams and goals, my mistakes, the lessons ive learned. Whyd he have to
leave this earth in the unexpected tragic way he did?

And then i sat back and thought, maybe i
lost him so young to help realize there’s no such thing as time. Time is something we humans
created and measured. In every case, it’s not about quantity, but about quality. And in the 18
years i got with him i had more adventures and laughs and memories than some get in a full life
time with their parent. And i just have to be grateful and smile about that. Time is an illusion.
How would we even define time. Some say, so sad he only got 59 years. But what’s a year
really? 365 days? Okay yes. What’s a day? 24 hours? Sure, whats an hour? What are minutes?
I feel we have to stop measuring this beautiful thing called life in numerical terms, and instead
give it meaning and value with adventuring, long road trips, genuine smiles, tasty food, playful
jokes, deep conversations, vacations to foreign countries, late star-gazing nights, boat rides with
no destination, great music, careless dancing, interesting encounters, spontaneity. All these little
things that have no relation to a number. You cant measure all these. You cant count them. And
you cant judge someone’s life by the amount of “””””” years they lived. I look at my dads life and
see just how many amazing times he had. And how much he had to smile about. And i see just
how lucky i was to have a dad like him, a guy that was larger than life. He was the kind of
person that loved to throw humor in every situation. He truly enjoyed making people smile, in his
own little clever way.

He came home from work one time, i must have been like 6 or 7. (we'd always get excited when his car pulled up the driveway) and he came inside, saying, well i am
starvinggg. Next thing i knew he grabbed me, picked me up, layed me on the kitchen counter, and took the salt and pepper and shook it all over me and bit my arms and legs. I screamed of laughter, and also somewhat pain. He finished it off with rubbing his 5 o clock shadow on me aka the “ “ whisker treatment “ “, as the prickly hair would give me something kinda like a rug burn. He always had his own way about things. Not only was he all about making ppl laugh, but he always had faith in the four of us. He taught me to drive. Right when i got my permit and i was in florida at his house, he told me, well were gonna practice tonight, pull the car out of the garage and turn it around, ill be right out. He came outside only to find two deep huge tire marks
embedded in his recently mowed green front lawn. He Didnt get at all mad, and even trusted me
enough to take me out on the highway that night. He never lost hope in me. Which was
surprising being that very same year we went to costa rica together and as im driving the car he
rented i hit a branch and rip the entire right front mirror off. I didnt get behind the wheel the rest
of this trip, and that was fully my decision, he offered to let me drive multiple times later that
week. Now if that isnt trust, i dont know what is. After my little mishap he goes and enters a
hardware store, attempts to tell the cashier in spanish that he needed to buy super glue. Once
he got it, he worked outside in the sweltering 95 degree weather to glue this thing back on, and
somehow ended up fixing it. When we returned the car, the rental place didnt have a clue! Good
as new. He always did everything himself. It was truly amazing. He taught us the power of our
own two hands and one brain. And the power of our hearts of course. He always wanted to hear
everyone’s story. And talked about the achievements of all four of his daughters to any one any
where. I realized this when he began to tell the cashier at the Unversity of Florida bookstore that
one of his daughters was in el salvador for two and a half years doing the peace corps. The
cashier didnt say much back, yet my dad went on and on, and i watched his eyes just light up. It
was beautiful. He was the most selfless guy, and talked about everyone except himself. He
definitely was not super soft spoken and knew how to raise his voice, yet he still had such a
humble way about himself--ive met no one else similar in the slightest. He was one of a kind.

Ill never forget some of the one on one memories we shared. My favorite childhood
memory of mine is when he’d come in the pool (which of course he put together himself) and
hed pick me up and throw me in the air. I loved it. And i think he did it until i got too big and i
began to contribute to his back pains. Another thing that added to some of my best childhood
memories are the motor cycle rides we’d take. I started riding with him when i was 6, and from
then on, riding together became our bonding time. And i swear the sound of my laughter when
he’d accelerate on the gas and push the throttle was five times louder than the bike’s engine.
He made me feel like the coolest kid when id hop on the back of his Harley after my soccer
games with my cleats still on and everything, and blast away as all the other kids watched. He
always went out of his way to make others feel good. We also used to play checkers and UNO
all the time as i grew up. I still dont know to this day if i legitimately beat him all the times i did,
or if he let me win in checkers. And as for UNO, it was disney themed, and every time you got
UNO, you had to click tinker bell and the game would light up and play a little tune, that i never
got sick of, and it seemed for all those years he never did either! Although i bet it was during
times like these he wish he had at least one boy, but who knows. When my friends olivia and
danielle came to visit his florida house when i was there last april, he decided to take his 1976
El Derado cadillac out and surprise them at the airport. When i visited him October, he
spontaneously decided to rent a boat for us one day, simply to cruise along the water. He even
knew to book it for 1 pm, knowing i sleep till noon and allowing me to do so. Not only that, but
when I did wake up at lunch time, he’d have breakfast made, and first thing he’d usually say to
me is “ you can have anything you want for breakfast as long as it’s pancakes”. And soon that
became another one of his many thought provoking sayings.

By far, my favorite part of my life that i shared with him is the trip we took
to costa rica. He didnt even tell me we were going. I had really just planned on visiting him in
florida. But as I was finishing up packing, he said … oh and grab your passport. Kinda knew he
had a little something extra planned once he said this. I had the most fun week of my life in this
country with him, as we drove through what seemed like a rainforest, soaked up the sun on
deserted beaches, drank fresh mango smoothies as we ate breakfast overlooking the ocean,
and stayed in a beat down motel room consuming an entire gallon of icecream together, just the
two of us... .. and two spoons. You were all about living life in a care free way, Dad. You took
away all the stress in any environment. You were always up to do anything i ever mentioned
doing, and your response was always simply, and nonchalantly “if you wanna”. You were hard
to argue with. And we rarely did to be honest, except when id leave the door open with the heat
on, or leave lights on in the house when no one was around. I swear im more environmentally
friendly now dad. He also always put a weird spin on everything, and interpreted incidents and
occurrences in a deeper way. He somehow made the simplest things into a lesson. Ill never
forget when he was playing tug of war with sam, our dog for those of you who dont know her,
and she was growling and playing and pulling aggressively. Her teeth dug into the toy and he
played with her for minutes. After a long brawl, he let go of the toy. Sam moved forward and
dropped the toy in his lap. He said, “Isnt that interesting?” I said “what?” And he said, it’s like life.
When you keep pulling and forcing things that dont want to change, you get no where. But when
you back away and let things take course, you get what you want. It’s also like an argument, the
more you fight relentlessly with one another, the worse you make the situation. The more strain
there will continue to be. But if you relax and take a step back, and let go of what’s causing
tension, and just let it be, things will eventually be resolved and there will be peace. And the
other person in the argument will want to be close with you again. I dont know why but that
always stuck with me. He really taught me so much. He taught me to be curious about
everyone, and that everyone has a story. And i realized after the last two semesters of college
that diversity is what i loved finding most. I loved talking to people from different backgrounds
and religions and races. I liked hearing their perspective on life and how to live contently. And i
have my dad to thank for this. He always had this curiosity for others. And im excited to continue
living life the way he always had, open minded and curious.

Im going to miss ordering On’s chinese food with you Dad, and watching movies that both you
and I would pass out during-i got this from you. i fall asleep during most movies, luckily i didn't
get your snoring though. Ill miss costco trips with you and seeing your eyes light up at the deals.
and also you taking ten samples from the same stand, and the lady never realizing it because
you were cracking jokes and making her laugh uncontrollably. Im going to miss eating the
steaks you’d make for me. I've never met a better barbecuer. I'm going to miss all the boat rides
we had, and showing you funny youtube videos and laughing together. You never took life too
seriously. You were always so easy to talk to, you always listened to everything we had to say
about eating right, and I'm going to miss you always saying you were craving a salad. Even
though we all knew this wasn't in the slightest true, and hey that’s why we got uncle joe grilling
up some sausage and peppers for you today. I'm really going to miss all the family dinners we
had, and on thanksgiving after the meal, finding you passed out on the nearest couch in the
rooom. and then you waking up and saying “im all frisky now”. ill miss all your expressions. But
as i learned from the fault in our stars, pain demands to be felt. and we must acknowledge every
emotion we feel . we cant neglect the inner feelings we have. To be honest, im scared to go
back to florida in august, because i know you wont be there. And you were what made me feel
comfortable going 1100 miles away. Im scared of feeling empty and lonely. But i know im going
to continue working hard. Im going to live by what you always said, “just do the best you can,”
as this was the last text you ever sent me. And i get chills thinking about that. I feel this is all
some terrible dream that eventually ill wake up and itll all go back to normal. But you were truly
one of a kind dad , and you left this world doing what you love and what you found excitement
and joy in.

I realized that although the circumstances right now really suck, life is fair because its not fair to
anyone. I’ll miss you and think about you everyday Dad. I don't believe this is going to get
easier, and it may not get a ton worse either. It all kinda comes in waves— these hurting
emotions and negative feelings— and you just have to learn to swim. God only gives you what
you are capable of handling, only what you are strong enough to face. I titled this document on
my computer “Letter to Dad” because I'm not ready to say goodbye, nor will i really ever be. And
that’s okay, because i know you’re still here, around us all today, looking at every face and
smiling, so happy that we all came together, probably cracking a joke here or there, maybe
making fun of me that I took so much time and wrote this long ass essay for you. He always
made fun of me for trying so hard in school. When i got a bad grade, he’d say “Well its about
time isn't it!” Ill really miss hearing his voice, but I know he’s always watching, giving me the
support and encouragement and faith he always had in each of us. I’d like to end by saying,
remember to cherish and appreciate those you love while they're still physically here. never
miss an opportunity to give someone a hug, and value that sensational feeling of physical touch.
Don't take it for granted. don't take life for granted, i know my dad never did.
Thank you