It Isn't In My Blood : A Father's Day Tribute

 There are not a lot of pictures of my Dad, primarily because he was usually behind the camera. But I like this one because of the way my Dad is looking at me. So proud. I am lucky to say it was usually the way he looked at me.  

There are not a lot of pictures of my Dad, primarily because he was usually behind the camera. But I like this one because of the way my Dad is looking at me. So proud. I am lucky to say it was usually the way he looked at me.  

This Sunday is Father’s Day. It’s my first Father’s Day without my Dad. He passed in December. And I would be lying if I said it wasn’t something I’ve been thinking about a lot recently. I guess wishing you had certain conversations with a person before they passed is normal. I tried to tell him everything I could at the end. I wasn’t sure if he could hear me or not. The nurse told me the hearing was the last thing to go. So I tried. I sat by him and had one of those heartbreaking life moments where you have a conversation with a person you love, but it’s only one-sided. The one I always feared having. And hard as it was, I realize some people don’t even get that moment. I didn’t get it with my mom. But since December, I’ve also realized that there was never going to be a moment where I could say everything. A time where I would’ve had every conversation I wanted to have with him. There wasn’t ever going to be enough time to thank him for everything he did for me or to ask him every question I wished I could’ve asked him. And even if there was still time, I probably wouldn’t have done it or thought about it enough when he was still here.

 Dad and my older brother, Trip in the early 80's. (I think it's Trip!)

Dad and my older brother, Trip in the early 80's. (I think it's Trip!)

Why is it that we only wish we had the time to pour out our hearts to someone after we no longer have the option? We don’t want to be vulnerable until it’s too late. I think we can learn from losses and try to be more intentional on telling those we love how we feel, but I also think there’s just some of it that is human nature. And with parents, or really anyone you lose that was an anchor in your life, there’s always going to be things left unsaid. If for no other reason than because we don’t always have the perspective or emotional maturity needed to see certain things until it’s in the past.

 

And sometimes it’s little things. Like when I was in New York this past week for something called PopSugar Playground. An event that was about positivity, supporting others and enjoying life. I should’ve known in that setting my Dad would be on my mind a lot. Because that’s what he was all about. Positivity, supporting others and enjoying life. He realized waiting for perfect moments was a losing game. At this event, Tiffany Haddish was a speaker. She is a talented comedienne who has rose to the top from nothing. She was homeless three times. She went through a lot of struggles I won’t get into here, but you can read more about if you look her up. But she was asked how she deals with negativity and people whose only mission appears to be cutting her down to size and making her feel bad about herself. Her answer? “I just laugh at them.” She went on to explain (of course in a hilarious way) how it throws the haters off. “They don’t know how to respond to it! They are just looking at you like you’re crazy and it disarms them!” I thought “Ha. That’s what my Dad would’ve said.” And then it hit me. Yet another lesson my Dad tried to teach me that I had missed, at least on a conscious level. Suddenly my eyes were watering for reasons other than laughter. I remember as a kid AND as an adult there being times where I was upset about something people said about me or to me, and my Dad would ask “What did they say?” And I would angrily or tearfully tell him. There were a lot of times he immediately started laughing. I used to be very annoyed at this and felt like he was being dismissive of my feelings. But then after he laughed, his advice was always helpful. And it took me until I was 33 years old sitting in New York City to see the lesson he was trying to teach me. He wasn’t trying to be dismissive of ME, he was trying to be dismissive of the hate. He was trying to teach me that it should be of that little importance to me. That life was more than what some silly person said about me. That’s one of those “Ah-Ha!” moments that feels obvious now, but it didn’t for 33 years. It’s also one of those moments I wish I could tell him about. I wish I could thank him for never getting sucked into the drama or giving the haters what they wanted. Attention. And I will never have that chance.

 Dad and Mom on a cruise in the early 90's. 

Dad and Mom on a cruise in the early 90's. 

 Me and Dad at the beach in 2005. 

Me and Dad at the beach in 2005. 

But I do have the chance to start intentionally living with that mindset towards people who are just bitter and miserable and want you to be right there with them. I have empathy for miserable people. I feel sorry for them. I really do. I’ve been there. But we also can’t save somebody that’s drowning in two feet of water if they refuse to stand up. And we can’t force them to do it. But what we can do is make sure we don’t let their behavior pull us under the water too. We must remember we always have the ability to stand up. And instead of using all our energy to get revenge or to hold on to grudges, we should just try to laugh. Especially if it’s absurd and we know it’s not true. If we laugh and don’t give it any attention, most of the time, other people won’t give it attention either. And they’ll laugh with us. And we’ve taken away the power we had been giving these people for so long. And now we have our power back, and we can use that power, that emotional energy, to keep pushing and get back to living our life. We can wish those people well and hope they find happiness one day. We can hope they find a mission in life besides looking to make others feel as bad as they do. We can’t save everyone. But we can save ourselves a lot of hurt and pain by doing this. And we will be happier, less bitter people. And that is the kind of life my Dad lived. He remembered not to take everything so seriously, while also understanding what was important. And he was trying to let me know that what a hateful person said about me wasn’t important.

 Mom and Dad at Dr. Suess' Ice World in Nashville. Dad loved to travel and have fun.

Mom and Dad at Dr. Suess' Ice World in Nashville. Dad loved to travel and have fun.

I’m pretty sure these epiphanies will happen to me for the rest of my life. Me suddenly realizing something he or my mom was trying to teach me, but that I wasn’t ready to learn yet. And the sobering truth is, I won’t ever get to thank either of them anymore when I do have these moments of clarity. At least not in this lifetime. And that hurts a lot. But I also know they didn’t put so much energy into making sure I was a good person all those years so that I could just live in sadness and regret for the rest of my life. So I have to find other ways to show my gratitude as I continue to learn from these lessons. And I think one of the best ways I can do this is using those lessons to make myself a better person. A happier person. A more content person. A person who does not get caught up in the bullshit of life. A person who can laugh, dismiss the hate, wish them well, and continue to live with intention and purpose.

 Dad and me on my wedding day in 2004. 

Dad and me on my wedding day in 2004. 

 A picture where Dad was (no doubt) telling my Mom which button to push on the camera!

A picture where Dad was (no doubt) telling my Mom which button to push on the camera!

My Dad liked music a lot, but he LOVED lyrics. He loved words. He would often pause songs to discuss a line from the song or to say the line out loud again for emphasis. Me and my brothers always loved joking around about it. But those memories now bring a smile to my face while also bringing tears to my eyes. And sometimes I’ll hear a song that my Dad never got a chance to hear, but I know he would’ve loved because of the lyrics. I heard one the other day that really felt like one of those songs. It was “In My Blood.” It’s a song that the artist, Shawn Mendes, wrote about anxiety and continuing to press on. He sings “Sometimes I feel like giving up. But I just can’t. It isn’t in my blood.” It’s not really about whether my Dad would like the composition of the song or even the artist; it’s that I know he would love the lyrics. The words. The message in the song. And so in honor of him, I will post those lyrics below.

I have days where I don’t feel like laughing at the silly or mean things people say about me. But I will continue to practice doing that, and staying focused on my mission in life. I will always try not to let it get to me and throw me off course. Because sometimes I do feel like giving up. I feel like taking an easier road or crawling under the covers and never coming back out. I cry and have my feelings hurt. But I refuse to give up on trying to live out the lessons my Dad taught me. Because that’s the thing…it isn’t in my blood.

 Me and Dad at a St. Louis Cardinals game in 2015. 

Me and Dad at a St. Louis Cardinals game in 2015. 

 Our family at the beach in 2005. Dad was determined to get these pictures taken even though there was a hurricane coming through Destin in just a few hours. We had to evacuate at 10 p.m. and drove all night to get home. But now I am so glad he was determined to have us do it.

Our family at the beach in 2005. Dad was determined to get these pictures taken even though there was a hurricane coming through Destin in just a few hours. We had to evacuate at 10 p.m. and drove all night to get home. But now I am so glad he was determined to have us do it.

And I know there are some of you reading this that are thinking “That’s nice for you, but I don’t have that legacy. I never had that kind of family. I never had a Dad or Mom that taught me these lessons.” or maybe you’re thinking “My family actually does quit. We do give up a lot.” And while I may not know exactly what that’s like, I do have empathy for you. And if I could offer you any advice, it would be that it can start with you. I believe in you and your ability to make something out of nothing. I believe the pieces can be put back together. And despite any evidence to the contrary, I believe it isn't in your blood to give up either. I just need you to believe it also.

So Happy Father’s Day, Dad. I promise to do my best to live your legacy through my own life. And to laugh at the haters and the nonsense of life. I promise to remember that everything isn’t as big of a deal as I think it is. And most of all, I promise to remember what you wrote to me; to never let a dream delayed become a dream denied.  


"In My Blood" by Shawn Mendes

Help me, it's like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

But I just can't

It isn't in my blood

Laying on the bathroom floor, feeling nothing

I'm overwhelmed and insecure, give me something

I could take to ease my mind slowly

Just have a drink and you'll feel better

Just take her home and you'll feel better

Keep telling me that it gets better

Does it ever?

Help me, it's like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

No medicine is strong enough

Someone help me

I'm crawling in my skin

Sometimes I feel like giving up

But I just can't

It isn't in my blood

It isn't in my blood

I'm looking through my phone again, feeling anxious

Afraid to be alone again, I hate this

I'm trying to find a way to chill, can't breathe, oh

Is there somebody who could

Help me, it's like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

No medicine is strong enough

Someone help me

I'm crawling in my skin

Sometimes I feel like giving up

But I just can't

It isn't in my blood

It isn't in my blood

I need somebody now

I need somebody now

Someone to help me out

I need somebody now

Help me, it's like the walls are caving in

Sometimes I feel like giving up

But I just can't

It isn't in my blood

It isn't in my blood

It isn't in my blood

I need somebody now

It isn't in my blood

I need somebody now

It isn't in my blood

This is a video I made as a tribute to my Dad, Dean Cook, that we played at his memorial service in December of 2017.