things i'm thankful for about my father - joseph agoglia

This idea was inspired while I was walking Kole at our local park and enjoying the wonderful fall scenery. I was thinking about all the many things I miss about my father, a practice which seems to occur on a daily basis. Examining what I once had with my father always to some degree elicits an emotion of sadness, depending on the memory. Such an exercise reminds me that I not only lost a wonderful person but all the experiences we once shared together.

As I thought more about this, I realize that I'm at a point in this grieving process to start reflecting on something that is of equal importance - being grateful for what I once had with my dad. If you've lost a parent, a spouse, a child, or a sibling, it is natural to view our loses as being "robbed" of someone. In one sense, you're correct. The relationship you once had was taken from you. And for some of you, that person was taken so fast that you never had any time to say goodbye. It's a wrenching process. My fear with accepting this perspective only is that our hearts become angry and resentful, leaving us closed to God, others, and even ourselves. We certainly need to experience and "feel" all of these emotions. Failure to embrace them is not healthy. But to stay there for the rest of our lives is equally as damaging. In fact, to stay in such a rut only "robs" us of our ability to move forward and heal. Furthermore, it robs us from appreciating the one we lost, which is very selfish.

We must learn, at some point, to see another side of grief, that is - becoming truly thankful for the one we lost. Creating an attitude of gratitude - as difficult as this may be - helps us cherish our loved ones on a far richer, more meaningful, level. I've expressed before that we never fully appreciate what we have until it's taken away from us. Paradoxically, losing my father has helped me learn so much more about him, see far more clearly than when he was alive, and become more grateful for his active presence in my life. The more I focus on the "gift" of my father rather than the "loss," the greater I am able to grow forward. So the process of grief for me moves from being robbed to being blessed, from arrogance to humility, from sadness to joy, from despair to hope.

I find it apropos that this list is being birthed just a few weeks before Thanksgiving of 2005. I look forward to seeing this page grow vertically as I find so much to be thankful for. And as my attitude changes, may my heart be transformed and enriched by this process. As you read these things, I hope you find yourself thinking of your loved one(s) also. May it resurface wonderful memories you once forgot or perhaps couldn't look at because the pain was too great. Together, may this exercise help us honor and respect our loved ones, yet also move us forward, one step at a time.

  1. Passing on the family recipe of our own eggnog. We will certainly pass that down to our children.
  2. Creating wonderful traditions for our family.
  3. Making the process of decorating during the Christmas holiday a family thing, an entire day of of cutting down our own Christmas tree and decorating it together.
  4. Having a baseball catch with you. How I admired how hard and accurate you could throw it. Because of you, I learned at a very young age not to fear the "fastness" of the ball.
  5. Exposing me to many types of music. It is because of you and mom that I love so many genres of music.
  6. Blowing us a kiss as we pulled out of the driveway, just to remind us of how much you loved us.
  7. Not being afraid to give us a big hug.
  8. Allowing Kole to be a part of our family, even though you had severe asthma. He has been a faithful companion and friend to me especially after you died.
  9. Being a man of principle and always doing what you felt was right.
  10. Encouraging me to always focus on others.
  11. Staying up late until we returned home. You were always there to turn the lights on and greet us at the door, no matter how early it was.
  12. Being at almost every father and son outing while in the stockade and battalion program (CSB). May I one day be so privileged to take my little boy or girl on such events.
  13. With yours and mom's help, you found schools which specialized in helping children who struggled with learning disabilities. I wasn't a gifted child, yet you did everything within your means to help me win in life.
  14. Giving me a passion for excellence in everything I do.
  15. Taking the entire family on those special Camp of the Woods vacations.
  16. Exposing us to different parts of the world by allowing us to travel with you on some of your business trips.
  17. Bringing home those special gifts whenever you went on a trip.
  18. Providing for our family.
  19. Showing me that integrity begins with the most smallest of details.
  20. Waking me up at 5 in the morning (while in middle school), just so you could help me review for my quizzes and tests. As much as I struggled academically, you were willing to get up that early just to help me succeed..
  21. Leaving an amazing legacy.
  22. Being a tangible "Christ" for me - the closest thing I have to understanding what a genuine faith is.
  23. Graciously forgiving me when I failed you or mom.
  24. Teaching me both about faith and faithfulness.
  25. The way you and mom made each holiday more special than the previous one.
  26. Reminding me that even when things look their worst, their is always someone in the world who is struggling with something far worse than I am.
  27. Sharing funny stories with us of when you were a young boy.
  28. Encouraging us to always sit down and share a meal together
  29. Making family time a priority.
  30. Your ability to continue loving me when I let you down.
  31. Always finding something encouraging to say to me.
  32. Being at all my athletic games.
  33. Your unconditional love.
  34. Showing us that the details matter, especially with the things that others care about.
  35. Ability to look to the future.
  36. Showing your enthusiasm for whatever we were excited about. (Great cheerleader.)
  37. Your unconditional love towards me.
  38. Passing on your entrepreneurial spirit and the business skills you gained over the years.
  39. Your ability to give every person the benefit of the doubt.
  40. Your volunteer work at the hospice unit for several years.
  41. Your brokenness at the sight of the poor, the homeless, widows, and outcasts.
  42. Yours and mom's compassion for single-wed mothers and their children.
  43. Modeling the importance of getting in the trenches of life.
  44. Stressing the value of seeking excellence in every aspect of my life, including the most trivial of things (personal, professional, and spiritual).
  45. Making every birthday feel like it was made for a king.
  46. Having an attitude that saw things half full, not half empty.
  47. Making every moment count.
  48. Stressing the importance (with mom) of not only getting a formal education, but making my life a learning experience.
  49. Standing in the gap for the defenseless.
  50. Living a life of righteousness.
  51. Modeling humility.
  52. Pointing me to Jesus.
  53. Equipping me for some of life's greatest challenges.
  54. Being a great father to me and my brothers.
  55. Giving me an appreciation for photography.
  56. Your discipline and correction.
  57. Your "walk" with God each day.
  58. Demonstrating how to truly serve others.
  59. Faithfully praying for me every single day.
  60. Being there - at celebrations, but also at the lowest moments of my life.
  61. Passing on your gift of humor to your family.
  62. "Telling me" and "showing me" you loved me.
  63. Being real.
  64. Modeling faithfulness to mom.
  65. Loving me, in spite of me...not because of me.