I’ll be seeing you, Dad

The first day I got my record player, my dad excitedly hurried to his secret vinyl stash I had never seen before. Holding each delicate relic, he explained the significance of the music and what was happening in his life while it was spinning. My dad could tell a story. Spinning a tale like Scheherazade, one hung on his words.

He put his favorite records on and closed his eyes.

Going through his loot, his Chicago hugged Blood, Sweat, and Tears while Crystal Gaye kissed Santana and Queen. Queen?!

Unabashedly, I replaced the vinyl for Queen as my dad and I sat on the floor. Bohemian Rhapsody filled our ears and we sang along. Where I stumbled, he remained strong. Wide-eyed I stared at my brilliant father who just out lyriced me!

Small moments sitting on the floor, eating goldfish, watching movies, singing and laughing with my dad are prized memories–especially now that he is no longer here.

The phone rings incessantly with well-wishes, prayers, and echoing sentiments of apologies. My heart hurts like never before– but oddly enough, I am thankful.

I’m thankful that my dad was a great dad. Not the proverbial ‘father figure’ many grow up with. The guy that taught me softball in the backyard when football games were on. The dad who made an effort to remind me and my sister he loved us every chance he got. The Babbo who cried when I graduated college because he was so proud of me. The father who held me in a bear hug until I let go. He would never let go first.

I’m thankful my father exuded work ethic. From the earliest memory I have, the important details were to work hard and never be afraid of failing. One of the last calls I had with him, I shared what I was doing at work. And he simply reminded me not to forget to dream big.

I’m thankful for his love of music. I grew up in the church and sang under the direction of my father, the Music Minister. He led the church in song every Sunday. Older, I spent my evenings doing homework while he played his sax. We would talk of music, arpeggios, theory, history, and musicals. I could always count on him to sing with me no matter the hour. Family meals ended with an elevated blood sugar and song. They were the best of times.

I’m thankful for the way he loved my mom. My parents met in high school band. They were high school sweethearts and would have celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary this year. He was a man who believed in date-night. He believed in romance. He believed in loving his best friend for the rest of his life. He planned an anniversary trip annually- for their anniversary a month ago, he took his beloved bride to New York. Taking my mom to the movies, they walked hand in hand. I pined for a romance like that. He is the standard all men must measure up to.

I’m thankful he was a man of God. He was anything but ordinary. His beliefs put everyone first. His beliefs led him to make serving widows and orphans a priority in his church. His beliefs brought him to his knees to pray for his family daily and be the example of what love is. I’m not mad at God. I’m jealous God has him closer than I do right now. But knowing my father, he is telling wild jokes in heaven. My ears will strain for the uproar that is due any moment.

I’m thankful he loved the unlovables. No matter the drama or the situation, he knew the importance of always showing love to someone. At the scene of of accident, he continued his love with wanting to donate his organs. It was important to him since I could remember to help those in need.

I’m thankful he laughed as much as possible. All would describe him as “jolly.” His colleagues, I know, looked forward to his jubilee. When my phone would ring, he would coo, “CIAO BELLA”” followed by “hey bud!” Even if his day was long, he wanted to hear of mine first. He would laugh with my joys, cry with my pains, and listen to his little girl until she felt better.

I’m thankful for his imagination. He was a testament of creativity while being a genius. Math in his head and wild stories from his heart. Starting on car rides when I was a babe, we would sit in the front seat crafting wild tales of dinosaurs and dragons. Just last week we crafted a story together about a family driving through ‘dragon territory.’

I’m thankful of the slow dance I had with him at my sister’s wedding. My wedding will be a bittersweet day without my father. The song I had planned for us to dance to was the first song we ever performed together. Petrified with stage fright, I cried the entire song and his voice remained strong throughout.

Never be a heart that he
Couldn’t mend each broken piece
Never be a wounded soul he would ignore

I’m thankful he has been there for every big moment of my life, every football game, home or away, and always a phone call away. I’m thankful of his love for his friends and family. I’m thankful for the love I never deserved but he freely gave.

He was one of the good ones. Everyone who met him knew without a doubt his genius, his sense of humor, and his beautiful heart.

Life will not be easy. My nails are painted bright orange, his favorite color, and I just wish I could hear his voice or have one last hug.

And despite the situation, if he was here, he would remind me to love others, get my car cleaned, and don’t worry about the little things. He remind me that he loves me, loves my sister, loves my mom, is very proud of us, and that it is our time to make it count.

He ask me to play with his dog. He ask me to take care of mom. He’d ask I check on his family. He’d smile and say, “I’ll be seeing you, bud.”

After all, a flower before it blooms is a bud.

There will never be anyone like you, dad.
I love you.
I miss you.
I’ll be seeing you.



18 thoughts on “I’ll be seeing you, Dad

  1. What a wonderful picture that you painted of your Dad. I am proud to have known your family while living in Tomball. I will always have a special place in my heart for your Dad and his fried turkey.

  2. Your dad still is the most incredible role model. He really is the man all other men will be judged by. His love for your family (and visitors too) was endless and palpable. Your incredible beauty, soul, vibrancy and talent is such a testament to him. I’ll never forget him. All my prayers are with your family.

  3. Pingback: Terry Nelson: Husband, Father, and Deacon - Houston Northwest Church

  4. I worked with your Dad in Houston. He was a great man and taught me a lot. I am so sorry for your loss. I am pleased I knew him! Such a fitting tribute to a great person

  5. I worked with your Dad when I was in Houston. Even though we didnt work together on any project, he always stopped by my desk to say hello and how I am doing with a bright smile on his face.May the peace which comes from the memories of love shared, comfort you now and in the days ahead .

  6. what an absolutely beautiful tribute to a man I only knew from a distance, but his smile, even from across the lobby was large and genuine. He’ll be missed. Praying for your whole family right now.

  7. I was lucky to know and work with Terry. He truly was a kind and gentle man. We are all better people because of the time we were fortunate to spend with him. God Bless Terry, his family and his friends. He will surely be missed yet our paths will cross again someday soon. Our family thoughts and prayers are with you all in this sad time.

  8. Emily, I worked with your dad and as you already know your dad was an AMAZING man!!! I was not in the office on Friday but as Terry did on a regular basis, he stopped by to check on me before he left for the evening. He said he had to make sure I was doing okay……he knew I put in a lot of hours and spent way too much time at work. Knowing that is my last memory of him, it will always be my favorite!!!

    He was one of the most genuine and kind hearted individuals I have ever met and I will be ever so grateful to him for many reasons. The best of which was his love for God! I always knew he was God-fearing and I should be more like him but now that he is gone, I don’t just know I should be more like him but I feel it in my soul to do a better job of leading my life by his example!

    I posted on Facebook if he impacted everyone the way he impacted me, this world was a better place and now it’s our turn to return the favor 🙂

    You, your sister, and your mom are and will continue to be in my thoughts and prayers!!

  9. Emily, While I do not know you personally, I knew your Dad since we were young. He was is a few years older than me but even in youth he was a great guy who was always kind and considerate when others wanted to pick on the younger kids. When I first started working at the Mitchell plant and ended up on shift, midnights, shoveling coal in a very hot tripper room. Wondering what in the world I got myself into I hear a sliding noise and a thud. Someone had just slid down the hand rails from the level above. Hey Mark! How you doin? There was your Dad smiling at me. I didn’t even know he worked there! For the next several years I enjoyed his comradre and great work ethic. He was a great guy. A loss to the world, a gain to the almightly. Prayers to you and your family. Mark Ritz

  10. Pingback: February 11 | abbeyalee

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