My Dad

I have been writing and re-writing this post in my brain for almost a year now. For some reason, I can never really find the proper way to word my thoughts. I also worry a lot about sharing some of this as its not really my life I’m about to tell you about, and despite the fact that I am extremely open about my own world, I realize that not everyone feels that way, so I am very careful to honor that when writing in this blog. 
Such is the case with my dad. I’m not sure how he is going to feel about this post. He is a very private person and doesn’t really like to be put center stage. I did mention to him I was going to write about him and thankfully he didn’t seem to upset about it. :) To be honest, I really want to just freeze frame this time in my life. Help my kids remember. But most importantly, to express my love for my dad. I don’t do that very often…

My dad, above, taking me to my first day of school, either kinder or first grade.

Us, Father/Daughter weekend at Mt. Hermon, cir 1985

Growing up, my dad worked a lot. As a child, I couldn’t understand it, now as an adult and a mom, I see things more clearly and I realize he was just taking care of his family. To him, that was the most important and honorable thing any father could do. And he did it well.

Us at Rustlers Rooste, in Scottsdale, AZ, probably 1987ish

When I was younger, people used to ask me what my dad did. I never really knew what he did. I would kinda bumble around and say things like, “he flies airplanes”, “he builds houses”, “he owns restaurants”, as he did all those things, but I never really had a title for him like my other friends had for their dads. My friend’s dads had simpler titles: “Car Dealer” “Mortgage Broker” “Lawyer”, etc. and I always felt so silly I didn’t have a name for him. Finally, when I entered Jr. High, my mom told me he was a “Developer”. Can’t really say that helped me much either, to be honest, as I had no idea what that meant. She explained to me that he bought things and developed them. That helped, I guess. It wasn’t until I was older that I realized what he really was:
An Entrepreneur. 

My parents with my Nannie and Gramps, at my Gramp’s 90th birthday, I believe. 1990.

My dad is an only child. My Nannie and Gramps were both 100% Germans and the hardest working people you could ever meet. They were self employed and ran their business on their own. I’m sure that’s where my Dad got his work ethic from. He was not a good student. In fact, he was horrible. I still remember my Nannie saying how frustrated she felt with him in grade school when he would come home with C’s, D’s and an occasional F. I remember her saying he was such a poor reader and had a hard time with spelling.  She also expressed her frustration that he seemed to care more about his cars than he did school, which was so very true. :) He LOVED hot rods. His era was the 30′s…. 1930 Fords, especially the 1932 3 window coupe {which he never could afford as a kid, but found one about 15 years back and restored it} was his vice. He would chop them up, hot rod them up and race them down main drag in front of his high school.

 Two of my dad’s cars he had when I was younger and below, riding in my brother’s go cart…

My dad giving me and my friends a ride in his car, this was probably my 9th birthday party.

 Below, our neighbor Stephanie and I in front of the red roadster he had while I was young…

In his 1932 that he drove across the country in The Great Race, at least 4 times. I did it twice with him. 

He tried college for a semester {maybe two}, which he hated and never continued. He ended up in the Navy, where he learned to fly. After the Service, he became a pilot for what finally became Northwest Airlines. Somewhere along the way he became interested in building and a friend of his taught him how to “swing a hammer”. He built an apartment complex, which was almost a flop, and then opened a chain of pizza parlors throughout the San Francisco Bay Area…which is still there, but I won’t name them because he doesn’t want all that info out there on him! ha. Eventually he quit flying full time and bought a small Cessna, which he used to travel from project to project. In his mid 30′s, he bought several mobile home parks speckled throughout California.

My parents in front of his plane. My grandmother must have taken this, she always cut everyone out of the pictures. :)

In the mid 1970′s he bought a beautiful lake front piece of property on the North Shore of Tahoe and built a stunning home with his own hands. It took him about 3 years. He found people to help him who later became very good friends…he would pay them in pizza and a six pack {true story}…but these people became his friends for life and were/are a wonderful support system to him. Around this time or perhaps a little later, he also started buying land and building estate homes on them. Gorgeous homes that mirrored a Mediterranean style. He usually oversaw the entire project, from start to finish.



My dad on the roof of our Tahoe house while it was being built. My mom has this framed really big and it sits in their bedroom. It’s her favorite picture of my dad, as this the same time she met him.

In the 1980′s, he bought a piece of beautiful country property in Santa Rosa, and moved us to a mobile home on the property while he built a small one bedroom cottage, then a two bedroom pool house, then the main house. We lived in each place for a year, and when he was done he sold it. I was in 3rd grade when we moved there. It was then that I realized that my dad didn’t have a “normal” job, as I didn’t know any other families who lived like we did with their dad building a house in their backyard. I often felt very different, wishing my dad had an office job, you know, 9-5 where we lived in a nice home in the suburbs all our life and my dad left the house for the day and came home for dinner. HA! So silly, we had everything we could ever want and/or imagine!

The first house in Santa Rosa, this is the final home that was built on that property, and as you can see here, it wasn’t done during this picture. This must have been my brother’s birthday or something, as its all boys in the pool :)

My dad playing with my brother’s hockey game one Christmas and fishing with us on the Delta, below.

My sister and me with my dad.

Below, being silly after my 8th grade graduation…

The Buchart Gardens, below.

Christmas dinner at The Peninsula Golf and Country Club, my grandparents club. 1992.


I often criticized my dad for not being around much. I feel horrible about it now. He was being the best dad he knew how to be, working so hard and supporting us, even if I didn’t get to see him much. I wish I would have tried to be closer to him growing up. Thankfully, over the last 10 years, my relationship with my dad has really changed. I’ve come to understand that what you have between your parents is really what you make of it, so I would say today we are very close. I talk to him almost daily, checking up on him, chatting, telling him about Evy’s Tree. He is very interested in Evy’s Tree, and he’s the reason why it really even exists, to be honest. He has encouraged me, brainstormed with me, patted me on the back when I have succeeded and gave me pep talks when I failed. Furthermore, I am shocked to realize that through some sort of simple osmosis of growing up around him, I have inherited some of his business sense.  I am honored to have it.

My dad helping me organize my first Evy’s Tree American Apparel order in my garage. 

Teaching Jake how to pull weeds in his vineyard, above, and below, trying his first taste of cotton candy at Disneyland, 2008.

2010, picking out our Christmas tree

Meeting Evy for the first time, May 5, 2009

My dad also has a great sense of humor, once you get him going. He tends to be very serious, but get him started and in a funny situation and he’ll really ham it up.

The last several years have been difficult for my dad. About three years ago, he mentioned that his hand shook. We brushed it off as my Nannie had bad arthritis and her hand shook for over 15 years. After a year of it happening, it bothered him so much that he had it looked into. The prognosis was not good, eventually my dad shared with all of us that he has Parkinson’s Disease.

If you are familiar with the disease, you know that it affects the central nervous system and causes your body to lose some function. Basically, you move slower, you are more tired and you always feel like you have weights on your feet. You can’t bend over as well, your speech can become slurred, and worse, you have a hard time sleeping, even if you are exhausted. At least that’s how my dad describes it. 
The bad news is, this disease hits my dad where he has always been strongest: physically. The good news is, the disease is usually slow progressing. You can be in the first stage for years, maybe even 20 years. Which means, this isn’t exactly terminal. His parents, my Nannie and Gramps, both lived to be 94 and were as healthy as a horse. My dad will be 76 this summer, and although there is a good possibility he will live long enough to match is parents, it probably won’t be in excellent health. This is hard for him, for all of us really, as we understand how much health means to him. And how much his health means to us.

Above, putting together Jake’s crib while I was pregnant, and working with Brandon’s dad making our backyard look beautiful.

I have been thinking a lot about this disease and my dad. You see, I think I always thought of my dad as Superman. He really could do anything. The harder the task the better for him. But the last year or so, especially this winter when he tore his Achilles tendon and had a boot on his foot, he hasn’t been able to do much. The weekend I went to Santa Rosa and got him the ipad was the first weekend that I realized that my dad is slowly slipping away from us. Not that it is happening immediately, but unless God heals him, he will slowly stop being able to do the things that I have always known him to be able to do. 
That weekend I took my dad to Lens Crafters to pick up some glasses for him. While we were there he got confused on the prescriptions. He sat in the patient chair discussing the prescriptions with the Dr and his hand was shaking. I know he was frustrated. And my heart broke.
How does this happen, your parents suddenly become more needy than you? When do the tables turn where they need you more than you need them? Not that we are there yet with my dad, in fact I still think I need him way more than he needs me, and he most definitely isn’t to the point where he needs full time care{or really care at all}, but that weekend, sitting in Lens Crafters, I saw it coming. Whether it be in five, ten or fifteen years, I saw our roles would slowly reverse. And at that moment I remembered how my parents were so eager to help their parents….how frustrated both my grandparents became when they realized they needed help. And how heartbroken I saw my parents while they watched their mom and dad slowly deteriorate.

Walking me down the aisle, November 6, 2004

I guess I’m being a bit emotional about all this. I mean, seriously, things are not that bad yet. And, although my dad and I somewhat differ in our beliefs of divine healing, I do believe that God could touch his body and slow down the progression of the disease, or heal him all together. Furthermore, thanks to some very famous people with Parkinson’s {Billy Graham, Michael J Fox, Muhammad Ali, Janet Reno}, the disease has gotten a lot of interest as well as research, so there are many new drugs to help my dad.

And after all, Parkinson’s has done some great things for my family, if that can be said. Us siblings have gotten so much closer, calling each other to check in on dad {since only 2 of the 4 of us live in the same town as my dad}, filling each other in on new research we have heard about, helping my mom out by encouraging him to try new drugs or see the doctor {he doesn’t really “believe” in doctors, and is a bear to take to appointments}, and just being an overall support to my parents during this time.

So…the point of this post: Dad, I love you. I am so proud of you and what you have accomplished. You make us all look good and have blessed us beyond measure. Thank you for working so hard over the years to make sure your family was well taken care of. We all have benefited, as well as our kids. I want you to know that I am here for you and I am praying that God will touch your body. But if He does not, I support you and will, along with mom and the rest of us kids, make sure you get the best care possible. Why? Because you did that for us. Thank you Dad. I will love you always, this #2 daughter of yours. :)
And to my kids, who hopefully will read this someday, I hope Gramps keeps living life to fullest for a long time so you can get to know him for who he really is. But if not, I hope you can remember him through my stories, and pictures and talking about him. He was and still is a wonderful person. And we owe a lot to him….God blessed me, and ultimately you, when he gave me a dad like him.

I love you Dad!!

PS….I have had the rough draft of this post in my blogger for over a week now, not sure if I should post it or not. As I was proofreading it late Sunday night, I took a break and started reading through my google reader. One of the first posts I saw was entitled, “My Dad” and it was by my friend Ashley over at Lil Blue Boo. I thought it was ironic that we both had a post under the same title! Anyway, after reading her post, I couldn’t stop crying. Little did I know that Ashley lost her father this past weekend. Please make sure to keep her in your prayers, I am sure her heart is breaking right now. After I read her post I realized, I HAD to post mine. What if I suddenly lost my dad I never got tell him how much I appreciated him?? Make sure you hold tightly to those around you while you have them…

Much love to you all!
xoxo

11 thoughts on “My Dad

  1. 1
    SoShawna says:

    Amy, this is a great post. I know how hard it must have been for you to find words for all of these emotions. Of course I cried my way through this because I could be saying so many of the same words about my dad. Thank you for sharing your wonderful dad with me through these years. I love Ron Wollmer and can appreciate the unique person that he is. He's been nothing but incredibly kind to me and I will never, ever forget that he's the one that came to my hotel room so early in the morning it was still dark, bringing me breakfast on my wedding day and then helping you iron my wedding dress! I mean wow…..what a man… :-) Love you Amy!

  2. 2
    JenSooHoo says:

    Beautiful post Amy! I could only wish to have had nearly as many memories of my father in my lifetime. I'm glad that you have such a loving and close relationship with yours. Thank you for sharing such great times with your family with everyone. I no longer have my father and could've only hoped for all the awesome memories you 2 have. Cherish every moment and every day as I know you already do. Much love to you and your family!

  3. 3
    Alisha says:

    Such a great post Amy! Jake and Evy are going to really treasure this when they are older.

    When I read Ashley's post on Monday I cried! It was so heartbreaking to hear of her losing her father.

  4. 4
    Brad says:

    Thank you for posting this Amy. I think you said it better than any of the rest of us could have. Despite wanting to strangle the guy most of the time, I won't ever look up to anyone more.

    And because it's not so easy to say in real life, I'll say it here: I love you dad.

    Brad

  5. 5
    Kelley says:

    Life is short.

    *tears*

    Bless you!

  6. 6
    Jenni says:

    this was so beautifully written and showed just how much your dad really does mean to you. he sounds like n incredible man.

    your last paragraph also hit home, we don't know how long we have left with anyone, so it was a reminder to love and cherish and tell the ones we're with now just how much we love them!

  7. 7
    Anon*RN says:

    Amazingly beautiful and well-written post, and I have tears in my eyes. I only met your parents briefly once, but was impressed with their warmth and graciousness during the photo shoot. You are so blessed with these wonderful parents and may the Lord give you many, many more years together. <3

  8. 8
    Sullivan's says:

    Amy – I left a comment yesterday – it must be somewhere out in cyberspace. I had written from my heart but, suffice it to say – this is an awesome tribute to your Dad.. Thank you for sharing.

  9. 9
    Stephanie Shaw says:

    Thanks so much for this post. It is amazing how when you boil things down, how much family really means. We have recently received the news that my Mom is sick and it is surprising how news like that can all of a sudden change your perspective on life. Thanks for sharing.

  10. 10
    Kassie says:

    Wow, Amy. What a post. It really hits home with me right now. My dad is an extremely bad diabetic…we've thought we were going to lose him a couple of times from it. And then to top it off, a couple of months ago, he was diagnosed with Parkinson's. He has gone downhill so quickly and I get overcome with thoughts and emotions knowing he won't be around forever…possibly not even a few years. He drops plates of food, falls down stairs and can't see well. Yet he won't admit he's struggling. He's got to be the strong one. Thanks for this post. You had a beautiful childhood. Maybe one day soon I'll tribute a post to my sweet Daddy.

  11. 11
    Ashley says:

    I don't know how I missed this….I was out of town when it was posted. I cried reading this because it was almost like I was reading about my own dad. What an amazing man. I loved reading about him and he's so lucky to have you as a daughter too. Some of those hamming it up photos are almost identical to some I have of my dad. Such a beautiful post Amy :) So glad we've come to know each other….and thanks for sharing a little piece of you and your dad….and the great photo memories P.S. we are flying up to San Fran next weekend to surprise my hubby's dad for Father's Day :) he's has a conference one day and we thought it would be fun. XOXO

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