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Skydive Dedication

March 15th, 2012 | No Comments

My Dad

“Your mother looks beautiful with her hair like that” were his last words before he collapsed and died of a heart attack at the Little Bar restaurant in Marco Island, Florida. He said them to me and I was the only one who heard them. He was 51 years old and the year was 1989.   I cannot adequately describe the shock that goes with an experience like this.  Nothing has ever matched the pain of calling my brothers and his mother to tell them what had happened, and to say that he did not make it.

Now as I approach my 50th birthday, I am returning to Marco Island for only the second time since he died. The first time I returned, we visited that restaurant and although the food was good and the company was grand, it was unpleasant.  I really didn’t want to go back.

I had always worried about my dad.  His family had heart disease and he really didn’t take good care of himself.  I would lay awake at night wondering if I would get, “the call” saying something had happened.  Shortly before we left for Florida on that trip in 1989, I resolved to quit worrying.  And I did.  And he died.  For a long time, I thought that I had been in control over this.  If I had kept worrying,  there may have been a different outcome.  For years that mindset would creep up, oftentimes worrying about my children but other things too. I often resolved that this time I wasn’t going to leave it to fate.  Or to God.   Look what happened last time. So I would torture myself with quiet worry.

Now as I return to Marco, I have planned a skydive for my 50th birthday.  I want to jump into my next half century of life.  Do something that rattles me a little.  Do it in South Florida  (I changed my location from Tallahassee to Homestead.  It’s as close as I could get to Marco).  I am going to jump with my son Andrew, who is named after my dad.  And I am going to dedicate this jump to my dad who taught me to challenge myself and not to be afraid.

What’s more, my good friend VuV wanted to take me out for coffee… to plan my eulogy!  We had always agreed we would do each other’s eulogies.  He thought it made sense to work on mine before I jumped.  What a jinx!  I am glad he brought that up because that adds to the worry soup, a soup I will toss to the wind when I am 10,000 feet in the air and free-falling next week!

* My dad was truly a great guy.  For anyone who wants a flavor for the kind of man he was, I have published a letter on annholm.net that  he wrote to me in high school when I was screwing up my grades by not trying.   



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