Thirty-five years ago last night, my father died at age 50 of a sudden heart attack. Within seconds he was gone and the paramedics were unable to bring him back.

Because it’s been so long, it’s strange to me to think that I felt so weepy this morning remembering him and what it would have been like if he had been around all these years. I don’t know that but I have memories of him that are sweet like…

…walking into my parent’s bedroom after he’s taken a shower. The room smells of Old Spice aftershave. He is cleaning under his fingernails with his pocket knife. His arm has a tattoo from his old Navy days.

…the time he took me to the baseball game–the Dodgers in Los Angeles–all by myself. What a thrill to have my daddy’s undivided attention. And he always bought me any treat I wanted. For some reason, my memory is vague, he suggests we leave early. We make our way out to the car but realize that every car is stack-parked. We can’t leave until those around us do. So we sit in the car and listen to the game on the radio.

…asking him if he believed in God. When he said he did, I was so overcome with emotion, I couldn’t say anything more.

…him sitting in a church for a revival–because I asked him to come. My mom told me later that it was pure agony for him to sit there because he was having such horrible back problems. But he did it because I asked him to come. Only now that I’ve gone through my own painful back problems, can I know what it meant for him to sit there.

…carrying me on his shoulders across the living room on Christmas morning with a blanket over my head. My mom insisted we kids eat before opening our gifts (otherwise we might not eat at all), and since Santa left behind unwrapped gifts, and since the living room was between the bedrooms and the kitchen, we had to be carried through the living room with the blanket over our heads.

…him calling the police to report a man who had called me on the phone and asked indecent questions. I felt supported by him taking my story seriously.

…him sitting on a bar stool holding six-month-old Darcy whom he adored. When he died, she was 16 months old. He missed seeing Mark, Kelly, Scott and Megan, his other grandchildren.

I don’t know why my dad left us early, but I trust in God’s plan.

If you are a parent, know that the memories you make with your children are important. I’m so grateful that my mom has invested in my children, her great-grandchild, and all our family all these years.

Memories….Make them!