Seventeen years ago today, my dad, Robert Forrest Shrewsbury, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer. He was 51.
This day is a tough day every year. While my dad had a fulfilling life, it makes me sad to think that he never got to see or do so many of the things we all cherish.
He never experienced the satisfaction of retirement after working hard for so many years in the milling business. He never felt the pride of seeing his children own their first homes and he wasn’t here to walk me down the aisle on my wedding day or meet Steve. He didn’t have the honor of growing old with his wife, or the joy of seeing his grandchildren graduate high school and head off to college.
I wish he could have lived longer and experienced those things, but I’m also very grateful for memories I do have with my dad. Memories of family road trips to the Black Hills or the Ozarks where we’d go boating on Table Rock Lake.
Memories of eating Fritos with bean dip while watching Husker football games or cheering on Kevin Johnson the Phoenix Suns. Memories of him teaching me how to play golf, sitting on curbsides watching parades as a family, and singing karaoke.
Those memories sustain me and remind me to be grateful for every day I have on this earth. My dad never seemed to take much of anything for granted. He lived his life with few regrets.
He took chances and vacations and he was quick to give away his money, time and talents to others. He rarely put things off and he said what he wanted to say.
On this 17th anniversary of his death, my dad’s example reminds me that life is short and not all of us are given the privilege of old age.
His legacy is a reminder to do the things that matter most. Try something new. Travel. Help those in need. Laugh. Be still. Pray. Listen. Make the time to be with your family and friends. And most of all, never miss an opportunity to say, “I love you.”
I love you, dad.