everyday inspiration

A Tribute: Wonderful Father, Loving Husband of 40 Years, Loyal Friend aka Donny “Rooster”

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“Do not let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God; believe also in me. My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.” – John 14:1-4

My Dad passed away December 30 unexpectedly from a heart attack. This blog has been my online scrapbook of sorts from the last 4 years, so I wanted to include a tribute to him, no matter how hard to write, as he is a huge part of my life and memories and always will be.

Bear with me as I sort through some photos and memories, some of mine and some of others who have shared the last few days. I do not intend for this post to make anyone cry or be sad (myself included) as I really want to celebrate his life more than anything.

Screen Shot 2014-01-07 at 11.28.30 AM{Dad’s school days photo and high school football photo – look how handsome}

IMG_9160{me, Dad and Mimi, his mother, 1998}

My very first memory is with my Dad. I must have been 2 or 3 and I was visiting him for a week while he was working in Kentucky. I remember seeing snow for the first time. I remember the hotel ladies bringing me cheese pizza (my favorite). But I also remember a story that my Dad loved to tell – we had stopped at a gas station and he left me in the car. I had just gotten a new outfit that I just couldn’t wait to wear, so my dad comes back out from the gas station only to find me standing in the back of the station wagon, butt naked, trying to put my new clothes on. (I still want to put on new clothes the second I get them!)

484728_10202832839807201_410740281_n{with friends at a class reunion}

1534405_10202851243347278_1617871959_n{planting trees with “forever” friend Joe Miles for a boy scout project}

As we’ve been reminiscing the past few days with family and friends, there has been story after story about Dad that I have just soaked up. Some of them involved dancing (with his little girl, with his beautiful wife, with his friends, my friends, anyone), some of them involved his mischievous doings with the Walnut Street Gang in elementary school and some of them from the college years are not fit to print here (he was a true 70s hippie, what more can I say?)

1385346_679874062037471_643151559_n{family/friend tailgate weekend, Nov. 2013}

One of my other favorite memories is the story of how he and my Mom met. I’d heard the first half of the story multiple times, but only heard the second half this weekend from one of their college friends. They both went to ASU in Jonesboro. Dad and a friend would sit in their dorm with their binoculars scoping out the hot girls on the lawn. One day he spotted Mom and said to his friend, “I have to meet that girl.” Later, Dad was in the lunchroom with another friend/an ex-girlfriend and he saw Mom again, to which he said, “That’s the girl!” The ex said, “Oh, that’s Robin. Do you want me to introduce you?” “Oh no, no, don’t do that.” The ex went up to my Mom and asked if she wanted to eat lunch with her and her friend, pointing to Dad. To which my Mom replied, “The guy with the binoculars?!” Obviously she went out with the guy with the binoculars anyway, and the rest was history.

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{Appleton family photo, 2006}

IMG_8118{father-daughter dance, 2011}

Some things about my Dad that I hope never to forget: his love of people; his habit of drinking coffee in the morning with mom while she read the paper and he did the crossword puzzle; his new addiction to candy crush thanks to me and mom; his willingness to give me money all the time, even if it was his last $20, he just wanted to make sure I was taken care of; his habit of watching Jeopardy at 4pm and yelling out the answers; his stories of growing up in Newport and keeping up with his classmates; our game of “Name that Tune” on car rides, as he tried to educate me on classic rock; his insistence on trying to teach me to fish even though I just couldn’t stand it;  his friendliness to all – he had no prejudice to ethnicity, religion, class; his laugh and his positive outlook – not holding grudges and just moving on; his love of good southern food (mashed potatoes, grits, bbq) and his sweet tooth (that I inherited); his willingness to travel just about anywhere with his girls, though his suggestion was always the same – Destin or the Keys; his compliments that he was unafraid to give; his nicknames for me, including LD (little darlin’) and Mille Moo from Tuscaloo.

IMG_6056{Park City, Utah, 2012}

1497785_10151787446762251_172014117_n{Orlando, FL, 2010}

Now a tribute from Kyle, his favorite son-in-law:

I wanted to take a moment and say thank you to everyone for all the love and support you have given us. Robin, Mille, and I surely have the most amazing family, friends, and coworkers, and as Donny would say: “y’all are good people”.

You form a special bond with a man, when he gives you his blessing to marry his only daughter, and that bond only strengthened over time as we rode along together through all the awesome (and some times crazy) trips that Mille and Robin planned. From the Islands of Adventure in Florida, to honky-tonk hopping in Nashville, every year just seemed to get more awesome, and gave me so many wonderful memories.

Donny, I am so grateful that you (and of course Robin too!) said yes to me when I asked for your daughter’s hand, and that you so easily accepted me as part of your family. You are so very missed, and I want you to know that I will do everything I can to take care of your two beautiful girls.

What an amazing and sweet husband I have. I’ve always known how great he is, but he has been such a blessing the last week. I don’t know what I would have done without him – from driving us 13 hours from Ohio then 5 hours to Newport to always being by my side and giving me a hug or a kiss on the forehead exactly when I need it. I also want to give a shoutout to everyone else who has been so supportive during this time – family, friends, co-workers. We have just been overwhelmed by the love and support and prayers, and please, keep the prayers coming. There will still be a lot more hurt and pain. This is not an easy journey, but we’re thankful to have all of you by our side. I leave you with a poem that was read at Dad’s service, that is absolutely perfect.

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You can shed tears that he is gone
Or you can smile because he has lived

You can close your eyes and pray that he will come back
Or you can open your eyes and see all that he has left

Your heart can be empty because you can’t see him
Or you can be full of the love that you shared

You can turn your back on tomorrow and live yesterday
Or you can be happy for tomorrow because of yesterday

You can remember him and only that he is gone
Or you can cherish his memory and let it live on

You can cry and close your mind, be empty and turn your back
Or you can do what he would want: smile, open your eyes, love and go on.

xo xo
Love, LD

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6 responses

  1. Morgan Weisberger

    So wonderfully written, Mille. Thinking and praying for you and your family. Sending love!

    January 7, 2014 at 4:50 pm

  2. Debbie White Eddington

    What a Loving Tribute to your Dad. Thank you so much for sharing.

    January 7, 2014 at 6:49 pm

  3. You brought your dad back to us all! Thank you for sharing this with all the people that knew and cared for him. (Susan Page)

    January 9, 2014 at 9:25 am

  4. Eileen Donaldson

    Oh Mille, what beautiful words you have written here! I think I can see your Dad blushing up there in heaven! With a great big smile on his face!! xxxooo Eileen

    January 9, 2014 at 8:31 pm

  5. Tom Hoehn

    Thank you for sharing Mille. Beautiful. *sniff*

    January 15, 2014 at 12:13 pm

  6. Debbie Jackson

    Robin, very sorry to hear of you all losing Don, we so much enjoyed getting to know you all and work with you all, and you continue to be in our prayers, especially you and Dee. What a sweet memorial your daughter has shared. Thank you Robin for sharing it with me and Kenny. Love, Kenny and Debbie Jackson

    January 23, 2014 at 11:55 am

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