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.

My dad and step-mom, Janna, and my siblings Christy, Robb, Laura, and Brendi.

My dad and step-mom, Janna, and my siblings Christy, Robb, Laura, and Brendi.

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.

My dad loved going boating on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks.

My dad loved going boating on Table Rock Lake in the Ozarks.

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. 

My dad was always willing to try something new, including karaoke.

My dad was always willing to try something new, including karaoke with his kids.

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.

My aunt, Kristy Douglas, painted this picture of my dad walking home from the Fourth of July parade with his granddaughters.

My aunt, Kristy Douglas, painted this picture of my dad walking home from the Fourth of July parade with his granddaughters.

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.

  • There is nothing quite like preparing a perfect dish in your own kitchen. Courtesy of @thechefandthedish, Ann prepared a traditional Spanish paella with Cyndi Kane, a.k.a. Ree Drummond's BFF Hyacinth. Sure, learning to make the dish was fun. Savoring the meal, and the friendship that went with it, was the best part of that great afternoon.
  • In the chilly, pre-dawn light of an early spring day on the Platte River in central Nebraska you can be sure of one thing: soon you'll witness one of nature's greatest spectacles, tens of thousands of Sandhill Cranes taking to the air for a day of foraging for food. If you have never witnessed this incredible sight, you must make sure you @visitnebraska so you can experience this for yourself. @visitKearney
  • A good cocktail is an experience. Instead of just having a drink to throw back, we love savoring a well-crafted beverage. Something we love about @celebritycruise is that good cocktails are easy to find. We aren't huge drinkers. Instead, we are strong believers in quality over quantity.
  • Something that always impresses us is the sheer size of a cruise ship. The fact that something that large can move and float and provide great service never ceases to amaze. But one of our favorite views is when we're docked next to another ship, and walking down a pier suddenly feels like walking through a canyon.
  • Here's a bridal shower idea...we put bottles of flavored water, juices, and sparkling wine from @wholefoods and @traderjoes in a large drink bucket with ice. We then served the drinks in stemless flutes with a cute, colorful straw.
  • We've been to many different farms in our lives, but never to one quite like this. Our cruise ship excursion in Grand Cayman took us to an actual turtle farm. We had so much fun walking the grounds, looking at the various turtles and learning all about them. Have you ever been to a turtle farm?
  • We just love tea time on @celebritycruises. Every day there are new, delicious treats. Take this delectable morsel, for instance. One bite of pure deliciousness!
  • Who remembers begging your parents to buy you a bag of these when you were a kid? Well, at the Archway Monument in @visitkearney, you can buy them for yourself! We just love these smooth, colored rocks and all the great family travel memories seeing them brings back.

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