Happy Father’s Day in Heaven

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I dreamed about you last night. We were somewhere—some place in my memories, the location undefinable. But you were loud, laughing, causing trouble. 🤣 Playing jokes, teasing, smiling. Healthy.

Last Father’s Day, you came over and played baseball with the grandkids. We took family photos and had a barbecue at my house. We knew it was the last, and maybe that’s why it stands out as the best.

Happy Father’s Day in Heaven, Dad.

10.18.19 to 6.18.20

Eight months is a long time. But eight months without you compared to thirty-eight years with you?

Your death wasn’t the worst, the most tragic–it wasn’t even unexpected, really. Everyone dies, and everyone grieves, so maybe it’s time to close the book, let the ink and the tears dry, to finish this epilogue of your life that I’m trying to write. You lived a simple life in a routine town, worked blue-collar jobs, fought demons and flaws and disease, and you didn’t change the world–you never even wanted to. It was an ordinary life.

But as one of the two people who called you Dad, you weren’t just anyone. You were our dad. Irreplaceable. You were solid for thirty-eight years of my life, and you’re now a ghost or an angel or a spirit sitting next to me. The opposite of solid, no longer touchable. You’re something, just not here. You’re present, but only in my mind, heart, soul.

I’m dreading my next birthday because it’ll be the year I turn without you. How does life look on the other side of thirty-eight, the first year without you? You won’t be able to call and sing to me in your Mo-Tab voice. Worse, Father’s Day is coming up, and I won’t be able to call you.

When you love someone, they are not ordinary–something I learned in my undergraduate English class on Place in Literature–and you were part of my place, part of my home.

And I am homesick.

10.18.19 to 5.18.20

Two nights ago, it finally hit your oldest granddaughter that you are not here. That no matter how many times someone assures her that you’re just on the other side, you’re here in spirit, you’re always watching . . . She will never see you again in this life.

It kept her up that night. We talked about how excited you were when she was born and about how she became the light of your life. No one was smarter, prettier, or more important to you than Lily. But I still couldn’t take away her sadness or her despair that her grandpa is gone.

How do I comfort someone who mourns the person I mourn?

I showed her my hands, the freckles on my arms, the shape of my eyes. I told her to look at her own eyes, at the blue that isn’t the exact shade as yours, but complementary in that the color comes from the same palette. To watch her little sister’s mischievousness and propensity for getting into good-natured trouble.

“That,” I told her, “is how we find Grandpa.”

More than any picture, memory, story I could write, or affirmation that your spirit is close, seeing you in ourselves and in each other is how we find you again.

It’s how we keep you with us.

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10.18.19 to 4.18.20

One of the things you and I always connected on was music. Not that you always agreed with my choice of songs or bands! The look on your face when Brooke and I played “Thunderstruck” in your old farming truck is one we laughed about for years.

In the early years, though, it was old country that you raised us on. Weekend mornings when Mom was at work and you’d be in charge of us–we did our own hair, had chocolate cake for breakfast, and danced to the Johnny Horton records you played for us.

When I was eight years old, you taught me how to drive a truck in the field so I could help you haul hay, and the 80s country blared through the speakers, loud enough for the entire neighborhood to hear.

I have yet to be able to listen to Charley Pride or Nitty Gritty Dirt Band, your favorites, because those are the songs you’d play on the drives out to Mill B.

Some of your favorite memories were of all those long weekends going to high school rodeos when Brooke and I were in school. Our favorites memories ended up melding together, a way you and I could continue to connect, even in my angsty, brooding, teenage years (sorry about those years?).

It was never really about rodeo. For me, it was time with you, and I always enjoyed the drives all over the state because we’d talk, play name that tune, and Brooke and I converted you to AC/DC (how many times did you end up playing “Thunderstruck” on your own accord, hm?), and you converted us to Steve Earle.

And then, a few years later, I introduced you to the music of Rob Thomas, and we eventually shared a lifelong crush on him. Two and a half years ago, Shawn, Lily, and I got to take you to see Rob in Denver one last time. Carolyn told me you had said it was one of the greatest trips of your life, and I wish, Dad, I wish we could do it again.

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P.S. Love the school pride you had for my university!

I’ve been continuing to take you on my musical journeys for the past six months, and there’s a song I wish you could hear. At first listen, it seems like a love song. But it has become my song for grieving.

“They say, twenty-one days until I don’t miss you.” But like a broken record or a song on repeat, those twenty-one days have lasted six months and will stretch until forever.

21 Days” by Brian Fallon

 

 

10.18.19 to 3.18.20

89827235_1611243399041212_327141710406615040_nThis, for me, is the hardest part.

These four grandkids who were the light of your life won’t get to know you. They won’t get to experience your crazy, loud, loving personality, or feel your over-the-top pride for them.

But they’ll have some memories, especially Lily, the oldest grandchild. When she was born, I pretty much ceased to exist, but I suppose that’s okay. 😅 She was pretty famous in Heber to your friends and family. Anytime I’d meet (or re-meet) someone, they’d say, “Oh, you’re the famous Lily’s mom.”

The night she was born, you paced the hospital halls when I was delivering her, and you barged into the room when you heard her first cry. 😂 I love that you love her so much. And you love them all that way—Hannahlia, Aislin, and Arrio.

One of the last times you saw Aislin, you asked me to put her on your bed, and you leaned over and kissed her silky blonde curls and said, “Grandpa will miss you.” I know you meant those words for all four of them.

I knew leaving them was one of the hardest things for you. “How,” you asked, “can heaven be any better than here?”

I know you’re watching over them. I know you’re cheering them on, celebrating with their successes, mourning with their losses. Doing your best to be Aislin’s guardian angel, which, you sort of deserve, since she’s your spirit reincarnated. 😉

So I guess that’s it, isn’t it, Dad? This world couldn’t have handled two of your spirits, so you, always the one to sacrifice for those you loved, handed the reins to Aislin, to all of your grandchildren, and told them to keep riding for you.

10.18.19 to 3.18.20

Graciously Bowing Out

 

Robert Clyde 1955-2019

After seven and a half years of laughing and joking, complete faith, prayers, and love, our brave Dad and courageous husband to Carolyn, Ollie Clyde, decided to be the bigger man and graciously bow out of the fight with cancer on October 18, 2019.

Obituary

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I knew you were loved. I knew you were an incredible man. Today, I realized you were more than loved, more than incredible. I have been humbled by the outpouring of love being shown to you. I bet it’s the same on the other side. Only they get to be with you now, while we’re going to miss you.

 

 

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You have left a mark.

You’re my hero.

You will not be forgotten.

We love you always, Dad.

 

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Dad’s last ride. 🖤 

We said goodbye to the man who was larger than life

and began a life where he is a guardian angel.

As my sister, Brooke Clyde-Balbuena, said, our dad was a legend.

Someone Always Has to Carry the Story

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My sister-in-law, Jena, sent this beautiful star for me to hang in my home in honor of my dad. The etched inscription is from one of my favorite authors:

“Don’t adventures ever have an end? I suppose not. Someone else always has to carry on the story.” ~J.R.R.Tolkien

I hope I am half the author of life that my dad was. 🖤

 

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#authorunknown

#storiesaremagic

#bringhimbacktolife

#foratime

#dad

10.18.19 to 11.18.19

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It’s been a month, but it feels so much longer than that. Four weeks, but it seems like yesterday. I still can’t find the right words to accurately articulate the ache of missing you.

Two months have slipped past since you told me your story was coming to the end, that the book would close for a final time. I’m still trying to find the correct arrangement of letters into words, words into sentences, sentences into paragraphs, to write an epilogue worthy of the story of your life. Because you weaved tales that were bigger than life. Because you were larger than life.