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"Celebrating Father's Day With a Special Friend"

I took this photo on Father's day, June 20, 2004. I decided that instead of mourning the day away, I would honor my father by enjoying it with a special friend. It was a much different perspective for me because I could hear my father's own words: "Go and have fun. Don't mourn for me. I'm so happy and suffer no more. Celebrate the day by celebrating the life you have with Christ." And with that, I took this special friend with me and enjoyed every moment of it.

Our destination: Riverhead, Long Island. Several months back, I received a mailing about a large strawberry festival. I always wanted to see what one of these events were like. So I surprised my friend and invited her to join me. When we got there, there were plenty of cars but no strawberries. We were never told why, but there were other things to enjoy. There were several craft tables and many unique odds and end items. There were carnival rides and other fun activities for children. And, as always, there was an assortment of different foods to choose from. We decided to share an Italian sausage together and some french fries and a lemonade. Even though we didn't find any strawberries at this festival, it was fun just enjoying the time with this special friend.

Still, I was determined to find a place we could go and pick strawberry fields, since that was part of my surprise for this friend. On our search to find one, I saw this unique vineyard with this brown barn. I had to stop and take a photo. It was just so unique. Here was this large field full of grapes and right in front was this stately-looking barn. It totally contrasted against the blue sky and the green foilage.

We finally found a place to pick strawberries. We purchased two trays to fill with strawberries and then headed to the fields. It was fun trying to find the ideal strawberry. Later on we found a place to throw a softball around. It gave us some time to talk, remember back, and even talk about my dad whom my friend knew before he died. Last of all, we found a place that made roasted corn so we purchased one and shared it over a homemade cup of lemonade.

Overall, the day was wonderful. The sunshine, coupled with the gentle breeze, added an extra touch to the overall experience. But it was just being with that friend which made the occasion special - with or without strawberries. How easy it is to overlook that the most beautiful gifts in life aren't too hard to find. They're often right in front of us. Today, I believe I celebrated my father's life by celebrating the life of another.