Happy Birthday Dad!

Ok, here it goes. 

…and just a disclaimer, this is a pretty personal post about life and death and something I’ve never found the write wording for before…

There are no rules when sharing about your past.  There is no ‘guidebook’ for how one ‘SHOULD DEAL‘ with their every day after losing someone that was such a huge part of their life.  There IS, unfortunately, a weird sensitivity that we all seem to have when we approach the topic of death and missing loved ones. And there always seems to be this unwritten rule that if we talk about their life and share about it, we are somehow not moving on with our own.  I believe we pass this on to one another year after year without knowing.  People die and we avoid talking about it.  Wakes and funerals occur and it’s the most awkward, quiet, and depressing thing you will ever attend.

(And can we talk about that for a moment?  I’ll never understand the reasoning behind ‘you must sit and be silent in a room full of people all in black.’   Where honestly, the only thing you want to do is shout and cry, or listen to music and laugh about something hilarious that person once said.  You want to be angry or happy whenever YOU want and not care if it’s affecting how people around you feel.)  We organize funerals and wakes to somehow make US feel better, but instead they manage to always make you feel worse.  When you want to celebrate the life of someone, you instead sit all bundled up in your own grief and forget about everything that made you happy when they were alive.

We wallow in our own sorrows thinking that we can handle life from there on out…ON OUR OWN.  We focus on other ‘things‘ and activities to cope.  But really, we aren’t coping, we are masking, and we are avoiding.  Days, weeks, months, and even years can go by and memories of our loved ones get mixed in with all the rest.  Some even start to fade away because we for some reason believe that bringing them up is only followed with extreme grief that no one wants to bear.

But finally this year I asked myself, who is this helping? And how is this way of life actually serving any purpose in honoring the memory of someone I loved?  So many historical figures and celebrities are remembered every year no matter how much time has passed since their death.  They are honored for great accomplishments, servitude towards their country and fellow man, and for great deeds that will forever be written and taught about in books and schools. But what about the rest of us?

What about the little sayings, the moments that made us laugh, and especially the ones that made us cry?  What about the home videos and old pictures we never share?

What about THEIR memories?

Today, my Dad, William R. Greve, would have been 59 years old.  Today, we might have been planning a dinner out to celebrate another year in his life.  Likely at a pizza place, and REALLY likely at Aurelio’s because he loved it there.  But we aren’t.  Instead, it’s just another day in October where others celebrate birthdays and we briefly remember that it was his too.  Another year is about to end where he didn’t get to make new memories with us, the 15th year in fact, and it will be another October where he won’t scare the be-geezies out of the neighborhood kids (LOL! THAT’s a good story), or a Thanksgiving or Christmas where he won’t make his famously delicious lasagna. (A task I took upon myself to keep up for the holidays <3)  Instead, we go through each year busy in our own lives, trying our best to keep his memory alive with everything we do.  But are we?

For me personally,  I found it extremely hard to open up and share about my Father for the first couple of years since his passing.  I don’t remember a lot to be completely honest about those first 3-4 years sometimes.  It truly is a blur at this point.  I mean, when something shocking and horrible happens in your life, most people say ‘God doesn’t give you anything you can’t handle’, BUT how your mind, body, and soul chooses to handle it is another thing.  My family went through a lot…and I mean…A LOT of loss in those first couple of years.  Dad died in 2002, his mom the following year, my mom’s dad shortly after, and his dad 2 years prior.  I was 18 and just about to start college…and NOT in the right mindset.  And to be honest, I didn’t do well away and by myself.  It took me a few years to really get a firm grip on life and what I was going to do as an adult for myself.  Like I said before, THERE IS NO RULE BOOK WHEN YOU DEAL WITH LOSING SOMEONE.  I just kind of made it up as I went along. What else can you do?  I can tell you though, AFTER opening up and sharing with friends and family more, my grief started to turn into a sense of calm, knowing that other people felt the same and we could get through any hard times TOGETHER.

Lately, and especially since I started to share with my clients more about my life and who I am, I found it to be even more important that I share where I started and with WHO.  So, today is my dad’s birthday and I wanted to share some pictures of him in his younger years, because sharing pictures/memories IS how I go through life these days, and I have NOT shared enough about William R. Greve, Bill, my Father, my DAD.

– This was him sitting on top of our house being built out in Frankfort Square. – He LOVED adventure and sunshine and rarely did I ever see him without a rosy nose. 🙂Camera shy? Not Dad! He was known for making ridiculous faces in EVERY picture and video. 😉

…hmmm, did I inherit that trait? HA!

 

The MAIN reason I am a photographer?  I get to share the most important memories for people that they will have forever to look back on.  I started my business 7 years after my dad passed away knowing that he loved photography and making fun memories with everyone around him.  My company logo is even based off of his signature! 🙂

I wanted him to be a part of something that made me happy and every day I look down at my tattoo (his signature AND my logo) or see a Dad and Daughter have a beautiful and emotional moment on a wedding day, or watch a new dad being sweet with their kid during family photos, I remember MY dad…and THAT makes me happy.  So from here on out, I’m making it my goal to SHARE more about Dad’s life.  He is physically gone, but his spirit is ALWAYS here and should ALWAYS be remembered.  I am who I am because of the first 18 years of my life with him in it on this earth.  And I’ll continue to shape into the woman I am now with how I choose to remember my past with him watching over me.

I’ll leave you with a quote from John Lennon (Dad’s favorite – The Beatles) :

“When I was 5 years old, my mother always told me that happiness was the key to life.  When I went to school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up.  I wrote down ‘happy’.  They told me I didn’t understand the assignment.  I told them they didn’t understand life.”

My birthday wish for dad and all celebrating life this year – that we all learn the TRUE key to life and be happy.  I hope and believe he is watching us all.

HAPPY BIRTHDAY DAD! – And happy baptismal birthday to my nephew & godson (Dad’s first grandson) RAFFI WILLIAM. <3 <3 <3

(and yes that is me with the long blond pigtails and sweet overalls in the garage watching on, him and his Samson <3 ) 😉

HUGS

p.s. Moving on with your life shouldn’t mean that you forget the ones who didn’t get to age with you.  It SHOULD mean that their memory is always with you in all you do.  It also doesn’t mean that some days won’t just SUCK.  Most days, especially in those first few years, will be the hardest, and at times seem unbearable. For that, the only advice I can and have given others is to let yourself feel it.  Go through the tears, watch an old movie, look at some pictures.  But more importantly – TALK ABOUT IT.  Remember that you aren’t the only one that lost someone and so most likely not the only one that is feeling that way.  We work better together, and we get through life better with the comfort of friends and family around us.

Whether it is a song, a smell, a location, or someone that reminds you of them, always know they ARE with you in that moment and it’s ALWAYS ok to let yourself remember and smile.

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