I write this with very bittersweet and personal sentiment. My father, A. Lee Straughan, passed away last August. Why bittersweet? The "bitter" part is that I selfishly wasn’t ready for him to go and I miss him so much. After all, I was daddy’s little girl, right up to the end. The "sweet" part is that I feel eternally grateful that I was blessed to have him on earth as long as I did. This will be my first-ever Father’s Day without him. My intentions were to write a tribute for him shortly after his passing. I wasn’t able to do it…I was still too tender. Even now is still very difficult. So, here is my attempt (with a box of Kleenex at my side) to pay a tribute to my father as we approach Father’s Day.
…I remember he was so strong; bigger than life itself. I have wonderful memories of family vacations; horseback riding; of when he bought me my first "glittery" purple bicycle. As a pilot, we never rode out of town in a car like normal families. I remember we flew in his airplane everywhere we went outside of our small town. That was pretty cool! I have so many fond memories and thank my blessings every day for these and many more precious memories.
…this is where it got a little rough. My father was very strict. I even got my butt paddled a few times (it sure didn’t have a negative physical or emotional impact on me. In fact, pretty sure it was for my own good!). As is often the case with teenagers, I was a bit of a rebel (do you believe that?) so yes I crossed the line a few times. My dad and I didn’t see eye to eye much in those tumultuous years. After all, I knew it all and he knew nothing.
…I began to appreciate the lessons that my father had taught me early on. He taught me important attributes such as the value of hard work; of personal and professional integrity; of loyalty, the importance of family and friendships. I knew that in his eyes a handshake was your word. I saw firsthand what a wonderful son he was to his mother, my grandmother. As she aged, he visited his mother nearly daily for many years. As she became physically incapacitated he made sure she was well cared for right to the end. He was an incredible son. I saw during these years what an amazing brother he was to his two younger brothers. He was their mentor; he was always very protective of them. He dearly loved his family.
…I really began to understand and appreciate the real gifts that my father gave me. These were the gifts of many life lessons that are invaluable today. I realized that he taught me compassion in a way of his own. I came to realize that no matter how tumultuous our relationship was at times that he always, always had my best interests at heart. I learned during these years that he really did have a heart of gold under some of that tough skin. As I look back over the years, I realized that he really was right most of the time. He was a man of honor and he loved his country. My father "did it his way."
…he gave me the opportunity to expand the business of caring for the elderly at A Love For Life. He respected and trusted me as a businesswoman; enough to establish a purely business relationship with me upon which A Love For Life – Alcazar was founded. It gives me great comfort knowing that he was able to ceremoniously "cut the ribbon" at our Grand Opening only weeks before his passing. He was one proud father! I was happy to make him proud. I was proud of him too.
…Dad, for all of the life lessons, for the opportunities, for your generosity, and for the most meaningful gift of all, your love.
Happy Father’s Day Dad. I love you and I know you are here with me in love and spirit.