Posted by: Leigh Reynolds | June 22, 2011

Daddy’s Girl

On June 21st, 2010, the day after Father’s Day, we all sat by his bedside.  The lung cancer that had come into our lives was taking his. It all happened much more quickly than any of us expected, than the doctors had told us to expect. We thought we’d have at least two years – we got six months.

He was in a Catholic hospital and there was a verse above his head – Psalm 91:11 “For he shall give his angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways.” I knew the angels were there with him, with us all that day and into the night. And now I know Dad is in heaven with them, keeping watch over us.  It seems like it was just last week, then again, it’s a lifetime since I heard his voice say, “Hi, darlin’.”

There are many things I miss about my dad, but hearing his voice, his laugh, seeing him smile… I ache for these some days. Most days. But especially this month. His birthday is June 14, then Father’s Day, then very early June 22 – 12:50am to be exact – he slipped away from this place and went home. I know this life is temporary and we’ll have eternity together in heaven, and that gives me solace. But today… today that seems a long way away, and a long time to wait. Today I am filled with thoughts of my dad, so in his honor I’d like to share some of them.

How do you measure a life lived so boldly and so fully? It is not measured in years, or days, but in moments. In experiences shared and lessons learned. Anyone who knew Tom Reinhart, surely then knows, our dad lived an amazing life. Mom and Dad lived! We grew up knowing they were best friends and that they had a life before us and they would have a life after us.  But they always took us along for the ride. We enjoyed dinner parties and great dinners out, awesome family vacations to Mexico and the Virgin Islands, and a never-ending party at the lake. Growing up Reinhart was amazing!

Dad wasn’t the kind to make it to every school or sporting event, and he wasn’t one to coddle you much when you got hurt. In fact, we grew up knowing that if we fell or tripped over something, Dad would likely ask, “Did you hurt the floor?” It drove us crazy, but it also taught us to get up and keep moving.  It never mattered what he missed – in fact, we can’t really recall even noticing – because we always knew we were fully and wholly loved. And if we ever forgot, then a father-daughter night rolled around and we would be reminded over a three-hour one-on-one dinner date with Dad.

Life in our home was fun. Daddy taught us that things are fun and if you are blessed enough to have a lot of toys, share them. Invite a lot of friends along to the party. But things are just things – it’s the experiences and the people and the family that are truly important. Even as teenagers we liked having our parents around. In High School when most kids would ask tentatively, “Will your parents be home?” our friends asked expectantly, “Your parents will be there, right?!”

So life was fun, and it still is. But Dad was serious too. He pounded it into us that if something was worth doing, it was worth doing right and you’d better bring your absolute best to it. He had little tolerance for slackers or un-met potential. Dad showed us that one step in the wrong direction, or an ill-advised move, can be changed with one look – if the look was coming from someone you respected.

He knew we’d make mistakes – and we did – but he also knew he needed to let us fall sometimes so we’d know how to pick ourselves back up again. Sometimes he gave us just enough rope to hang ourselves, but that rope is also what tethered us to home and to the unconditional love that would pull us back.

We miss you so much, Daddy. But we know we can’t look backwards; life keeps moving on. You taught us that too. And we’ll do our best to carry along all you taught us.

If you knew Dad at all, then talk about him, share your great Tom Reinhart stories. Tell our kids – his grandchildren – all you knew about him. And when you do, smile and laugh out loud. No forlorn faces. A life so wonderfully lived is to be celebrated, not mourned.

If we are living right, then you’ll see Tom Reinhart in his daughter’s eyes, and in his grandchildren. Together we are a formidable force and we’re doing OK. We’re taking care of mom and each other, one wonderful moment at a time. We know you are keeping watch, Daddy, and we’ll do you proud.

We may be all grown up, but  your girls – Paige, Tracy and me – will always be Daddy’s Little Girls…

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