A Birthday Letter to My Dad

Dear Dad,
Tomorrow is your 74th Birthday. You passed away almost 3 months ago on Feb. 15th (the day after Valentine’s Day).

Since you’ve left this mortal life, our lives have not been remotely the same. I can’t even begin to tell you how deeply you are missed, thought of, talked about. Your stories are legendary. Your jokes retold. I think you would be so pleased and happy to know how much you have affected so many people throughout your life for the better. Everyone loves to tell me how much they love you, and everyone has a hilariously awesome story to tell me about you. It’s been a gift in someways to have this opportunity to focus on you and honor you, we’ve learned more about your life and we’ve loved you even more.

Each day, I have a moment when I pick up the phone to call you. I can hear your voice in my mind “Dee! My Dee!” answering the call. Then the reality sets in that we can’t have that conversation, that you are busy on the Lord’s errand in another place and I need to be patient and save up my news for the resurrection, or my own journey into heaven.

Dad, I want you to know (and I know that you do) how much I love you. I know that you and I had some rocky times years ago, but I assure you that every bit of that washed away and everything that remains is pure love and gratitude for everything you’ve given me. I just miss you. My heart aches to hear your voice.

On Sunday in our ward at church it was Mother’s Day. One of the speakers was talking about Mothers of course, but then he lovingly honored each of his daughters beaming proudly and exclaiming how truly proud he was to be their Dad. At that moment my tears flooded my face (the full on ugly cry) because it felt as though that was you up there saying those words to me. I know you were proud of me, and each of us kids. Your family were your riches, and you let us know it. It was hard on Sunday as I felt the flow of tears dripping down my cheeks, but then a flood of warmth filled my heart and I knew for just a moment you were there and came to let me know you loved me on Mother’s day.

Daddy, I don’t think I can ever get over this loss. It’s harder than I imagined losing a parent would feel. I always knew that it would be so painful, but the hole in my heart that remains is like on ongoing ache. I am doing all that I can to just keep moving, and to do so with grace and gratitude. I can feel better for a awhile but then the reality that I’m going to live the rest of this life without your hugs is unbearable. Nobody loves me like you do. So when you left it just has been so apparent how precious you are to me.

This experience makes me more and more thankful for our Savior Jesus Christ. That he performed the Atonement on behalf of all mankind because he loves us so much, and wants us to return to the presence of our Heavenly Father. It is armed with my deep faith and a love of God that I am able to keep going. It is with joy that I dream of a reunion with you, how great will be my joy to see you again.

I wish you a Happy Birthday Dad. You are my Dad for all Eternity, thank you for the binding covenants you made with Mom and Heavenly Father to ensure we can be together forever. I love you infinitely and truly.

Your Pook,
Daria

Happy 21st Birthday to Baby Boy

Happy 21st Birthday to my son Elder Dylan Tavis Muirhead!! Dylan changed my life when he arrived, I’ll never forget him as a little boy he was so precious and also mature beyond his years. He always just loved to be with me, and that pretty much has never changed. I’m so grateful to have a son that loves to laugh and talk with me, we have so much fun together and are always laughing.
I am so proud of the choices he has made, he felt a strong desire on his own to love and serve others on a two year mission for our church. It’s hard to be away from him (he’s been on a mission for one year this month) and yet hearing how happy he is in the service of others 24/7 and sharing about God is such a gift. If I was with him today I know he would plunk down next to me on my bed and ask me to tell him about the day he was born, and what he was like as a little child. I can’t put into words what he means to me, he’s one of my favorite people that I’ve ever known, talented, compassionate, loving and strong. He’s a hero to his younger siblings, and has become a dear friend to Nathan and I in his adulthood. Happy Birthday Baby Boy, I love you so much! Mom

My Dad Passed Away

On Feb 15th (the day after Valentine’s Day) my sweet Daddy passed away. He had been struggling with advanced Alzheimers and then suffered a massive stroke, there was no coming back from his stroke. I can hardly type about it. I know I should be recording each thought and feeling, each sweet moment but it’s hard to do so. Each time I try I feel stalled by the feelings of grief mixed with just being unsure about what to say. I love him. I miss him. I always will.

I wrote his obituary, and I also spoke at his funeral and poured out my heart there. Perhaps I’ll post my funeral address, at least that can speak to some of the things I feel about him being gone:

Memories of Dad
Friends and Family, our hearts are full that you are with us today. I want you to know that I believe this is a great and glorious day, a celebration of Dad’s life on this earth. I know with all of my heart that he is having a grand reunion with his friends and family who have gone before him, I know that he has been embraced by his parents John McNally and Patricia Beisel as well as his adopted parents Charles and Viva Wynder, He has reunited with Wayne Mendenhall, Calvin Crapo and Ralph Pullman his dear Brother-in-Laws, His Brother Dennis, and many more friends and family including his beloved black lab Bailey. He has been embraced by his King and Savior Jesus Christ. Oh, How great is his joy! This, though hard for us, is his graduation day and as I stumble through with some tears, I want you to know that my heart is happy for my Dad to have passed through the bands of this mortal life. I am honored to be his daughter, and to have grown up at his feet.

I have many memories of my Dad, many of them are vivid in my mind as he was always larger than life in the things that he did with us. Whether it was playing with us, teasing us, or teaching us spiritual things my Dad was the authority on “awesome”. He loved his children with all of his soul, and I know this because he shared with us many times how we were his pride and joy. What a gift to grow up knowing that my Father loved us so, sometimes I’ll admit it was annoying to me in my youth that he was so involved in everything I was up to. As I have grown, I have admired his deep love and concern for his children, he constantly would try to steer us in truth. My Dad was flawed like all of us, he had a temper and he knew how to use it. But when it came to his family, his wife and kids or especially his faith in the Savior Jesus Christ and his gospel my Dad was entirely unwavering. He loved the gospel and loved to live it, he loved to share it, he was never afraid to tell anyone what he believed. I love and admire that beautiful testimony that my Dad grew throughout his life. He came from the most difficult of circumstances, but the Lord gave him many spiritual gifts and abilities in exchange for the heartache he endured as a child and a young man.

I have many treasured memories and stories of him as a Dad. I was an incredibly colicy baby, I would cry in pain from stomach upset as a newborn but my Dad discovered that if he sang to me, and bounced me up and down as he ran around through my parents tiny one bedroom apartment it would ease my pain and I could fall asleep. I have been told all of my life about the countless hours and many miles my Dad spent with me as an infant, running in circles singing “Up on the Housetop” so I could be comforted.

As kids we would dash to the window when Dad would arrive home from work. Courtnee and Brett and I would practically run each other over to greet him because that’s when the party had arrived. My Dad was a master at throwing us up into the air, we loved that feeling of being tossed into space and then landing back safely in his strong arms. He would often walk in from work and meet my Mom in the kitchen. Then he would pick her up over his shoulder and spin around. My Mom would tell him to “knock it off”, and we’d all laugh our heads off. I love that image of my Dad spinning around Mom in the kitchen.

Dinner time at our house was not like dinner at any other house. In fact it might be considered “Dinner Theatre”, Dad loved to laugh and shock us. He would create grand stories at the dinner table and while doing so he would create a scene with the food on his plate or even the tabletop. It was usually when there we had mashed potatoes and gravy so he could take his finger and create a river in the story or clouds. It was magical and fun, I couldn’t believe Mom allowed him to play with his food. But he made it so fun to be with him.

Dad loved to laugh and joke, he even loved his own sense of humor! (pause) He told us many jokes growing up, some of them he told us WAY too many times. He also was hilarious about making up impromptu poems for us like the ever famous “Birds by Bernie Wynder” which went something along the lines of talking about the birds twittering in the leafy trees, the sun was shining, “I coaxed him over with a loaf of bread, And then I crushed his little head!!” Shocking right?! He was a big kid and I will never forget the night in our home in Falconridge when he told us the Poncho Gonzalez joke. It was a bit too gritty for this company, but I thought he was hilarious.

Back in the day when I was little you didn’t have car seats or even need to wear seatbelts. I would stand up next to my Dad in the front seat while he drove with my arm on his shoulder. I also remember driving out to Rosemary, Alberta many times as a child and Dad would let me drive the car on his lap. I drove a car many times before I ever held a license and most of those miles were before I was a teenager. On our trips to Rosemary he would tell us about growing up in the orphanage, being picked up by the Wynders for the first time, and growing up on the farm near Rosemary. We would stop by the old farm and he would tell us about the first time he saw Grandma’s food storage. He had never seen so much food, it was overwhelming for him. He had gone hungry many times as a child, and the Wynders lovingly told him that whenever he was hungry he could take out anything he wanted to eat. Bottles of cherries and all kinds of canning. He was so blessed to be adopted by the Wynders, they taught him many things on the farm and my Dad recalled them teaching him that first day how to pray. My Dad had never prayed before. They taught him the gospel and they gave him a home. My heart wells over with love for them and what they gave my Dad, and by extension his entire posterity.

My Dad was an interesting teacher. As a kid I couldn’t remember which foot was my right foot and which was my left. In a flash of genious my Dad spit on my foot and exclaimed “that’s your right!” to which I never forgot and recalled many times when pressed in the coming years about right and left.

Dad spent loads of time with us as children. He taught me how to ride a bike, he taught us all how to do that. We also spent countless hours in gymnasiums cheering for my brother in basketball games. And when you’d succeed he would Cheer loudly for you. He has always been my Champion and my greatest Cheerleader in my life. This is the part of my Dad that I will miss the most. I could always count on Dad being proud of me. He was never short on praise and always made me feel valued and important. With each milestone of my life my Dad has been the first one in line cheering for me. Oh how dearly I love him. On the day I went to the temple for the first time, on my wedding day to Nathan, and when I had each of my children I was so happy, but I can tell you assuredly that my Dad was even more full of joy. His happiness was wrapped up in the righteous and beautiful parts of family life. For those who knew him we know of the most tender and spiritual man that he was, with a little bit of “jam” as he loved to call it.

Dad loved to dance, he loved nice clothes and always looked sharp. He had a huge assortment of jackets and sweaters much to my astonishment that he would ever want more. He enjoyed getting great deals at “The VAL” as he called it, you may know it as Value Village. He loved to golf, being on the golf course was pure heaven for Dad. He was a master at golfing and he was a much sought after teacher. Dad was a gifted coach, his basketball teams were highly successful and his teams became our extended family. Coaching gave Dad many special sons. He loved them all and followed their successes in life. He loved coaching and he was masterful at it.

My Dad was a nightmare to travel with. He would want to get going at the crack of dawn, which was usually when it was still dark outside. I was instructed many times that waking up before the dawn would allow us to pack the car, and “make good time” which was critical to him. We had to make good time, there was usually several minutes of grumpy before he’d break out the Neil Diamond tape and start singing “We’re coming to America!!” . We didn’t have alot of money growing up but our family took many many road trips. These would consist of Courtnee and I laying in the back seat with pillows and blankets and Brett being convinced by us to sit on the bump on the floor. Poor Brett, I’m so sorry, I love you!

Dad loved to surprise us, he brought home my first 5 speed bike and I loved that maroon colored bike so much because he picked it out for me. He brought home our first puppy when I was a child, a beautiful purebread white german shepard that we called Cylon (after Battlestar Gallactica). We had many dogs in our home, and my Dad was incredible at training them. He was so gifted with animals and they adored him, especially our Bailey my Dad’s Black lab and beloved companion.

Dad loved to watch western movies, and musicals. I sat with him watching many classic movies and music and grew my own love for them because of him. Gene Kelly, Johnny Mathis, Neil Diamond, Barbara Streisand, West Side Story, James Bond, and my first Daddy Daughter Date to see Cinderella were all gifts that Dad has given me.

I want to share with you something sacred to me. It’s an experince that my Dad had as young man, he had been making some mistakes and choices. One night, he told me that I came to him in a dream, a little girl with blonde hair curly hair and blue eyes. I told him that he was going to be my Daddy, that I would be his daughter, and that he needed to change his life. Dad changed his life. This story has always touched my heart, I believe that it happened. I believe that our family relationships can be never ending and eternal. I know that my life has been richly blessed by God because of the incredible parents that he allowed to be mine. My Dad was my champion and I will miss his influence and his arms around me. Now Dad is going ahead to prepare a place for our family, I can’t wait to embrace him again. I know that through the sealing power of God, he is my Dad and I am his daughter forever. This gives me great comfort and joy. I want to thank my sister Courtnee and my Brother Brett for allowing me the honor of sharing my own memories of Dad today, I know that they have many of their own memories which will be shared with Dad’s Grandchildren (Dylan, Joshua, Brigs, Noah, Lola, Justin, Andrew and Jayelle) throughout their lives. We are ever thankful for our Dad and how he lived what he believed and taught us continually by righteous example.

I would like to leave with you my testimony, I know where my Dad is and I know that we will reunite once more. I have love and complete faith in my Saviour Jesus Christ, he lives ever still and I know that he is mindful of my individual needs because he has carried me through many storms. I know with all of my heart that there was a great plan of happiness for mankind, and that our purpose is sure. I love my Heavenly Father and know that there is a grand design to our experience in this life. I am thankful for the way that I was raised and for the importance of Family and Faith which bless my life. There is nothing that has brought me more joy or happiness than my relationship with God, my Dad and I share that. I leave you with my love and gratitude for blessing our family with your support this day. In the name of my Saviour Jesus Christ. Amen.

My Kids: Personal Christmas Cards

Each year I always send out our family Christmas card and letter. It’s fun and all encompassing. This year however I thought it would be a fun project for the kids to create their own personal holiday card & notes and send them out. We’ve been working all afternoon using the photos that their Auntie Liz took while she was visiting this summer. (thank goodness for Photoshop to add text, and our home printer)!! We were able to print a bunch and get going.

The kids sat with me at the computer and told me exactly what they wanted their cards to say, colors everything. I was the grunt worker.

Here’s some sneek peeks. I think it’s really so lovely to include them in sending out their own personal cards to loved ones. It makes me all warm inside to see their little lists made up of the names of their family and friends who they want to reach out to of their own accord. Worth every extra stamp!!

Watch for their love for you in the mail soon.

Update:
So we sent these off as a little homeschool project, but everyone started asking where Dylan’s card was because they want to complete the set. Here’s the boy!

An October Visit with Wynders

October brought a 10 day visit from my parents (they always seem to come in Fall, next time summer right Mom??). We were so excited to have them come and celebrate their 41st Anniversary with us too. We enjoyed a wonderful day at Goldstream and enjoyed the beauty of fall here on the Island.

I love my parents so dearly, they are so special. I cherish all of the times I get to spend with them as an adult and for my children to know and love them.

An Epic Farewell Battle with Muirhead’s

Continuing with my posts of lovely visits we had with family recently, Nathan’s parents arrived in September for “fun in the sun”…literally. They came to visit with us in Victoria for a few days, but then came along on my SURPRISE 40th Birthday trip to Arizona that my darling planned for me. So much fun!!

On the morning that they left, Nate’s Mom had planned a spray string battle for us on the beach. My kids were in pure heaven getting to actually shoot their Grandparents with silly string, and it’s was “Nana’s Idea” too!!! Goodbyes are always hard so this was perfect, lots of laughs before they drove away.

Liz and her Children Visit – Summer 2013

It’s ALWAYS a total delight to have the Cranmers arrive for a visit. This year Kent didn’t make it out, but his brave beautiful wife and her crew came all on their own. Liz is a trooper, in the face of a massive accident and backed up traffic for hours on a mountain road – she braved it all! We loved our visit with you guys. Thanks for the fun memories of Berry picking, sunday church with you guys in our tiny primary, finger painting, swimming, eating, delivering newspapers on our route, family pictures, Brigs Birthday celebration and on and on!!

Lola was in heaven having Auntie Liz here. Showing off her dolls always gets the biggest reaction from Liz, she’s so fun!

Liz laying out our family clothing for pictures the next day. She’s THE BEST!!

Allow me to backtrack – Larsen’s were here!

I have to go way wayyyyy back into summer because we have had an amazing amount of company and visitors this year. It’s been so special to us to see so many we love. First came our niece Vienna, all on her own so she could get her teeth done by Uncle Nathan. (this amazing little girl drove back from Alberta with Nathan and Dylan and she was a delight!!).

This was Vienna’s “AWESOME” idea, to put Lola on the boogie board in the hot tub with the big kids and push her around. Oh my, Lola loved it!

Soon after the Larsen’s arrived for their annual trip to the Island, we love seeing them and we had a couple jam packed days.

Swimming and hot tub fun, Museum, Mount Doug Beach, Gyro Park, Tacofino (the ultimate in fish tacos! Bjorn was in heaven) and more! We love our Larsen’s!

Recreating the scene from Titanic

One of the Ultimate reasons I adore my brother in law!!!

Parksville Family Camping – instagram photos

Last weekend we planned a quick little Stay-Cation with our kids. Our trusty little tent trailer is comfy and a great way to get away on weekends. We packed up early Friday and headed up island to Parksville for camping practically on the beach.

It was a hurried trip, we had two days and only one overnight. It’s amazing what you can jam into such a short vacay! The sandy beach at Parkville is beautiful and goes out forever. It was colder while we were there so we didn’t swim, but walked the beach exploring. I ran to the local dollar store and snagged a few little kites and the boys had a blast flying them (so did Lola she was awesome!!).

I love our family! We had so much fun together!

Noah’s Dream Come True!! Cake Pop Making with Nana

It’s true what they say about the way to a man’s heart being through his stomach. Especially my little man Noah, he is in heaven when he gets to bake anything! This past week he was delighted to have his Nana here on a visit and happy to make brownie cake pops with him. He’s been talking about it ever since. (BTW, Noah totally fell in love with his Nana and told her so frequently. They also read alot of books together, and he told her “I want to read with you…because I LOVE you!”)

What a treat for us to have Nate’s parents come and stay with us for 10 days. We love being with them, and all of the fun we have together. It never matters what we do, even just hanging out is a blast because we enjoy each other so much. During their visit I hardly took a picture, I was just involved in the moment which is sometimes better than snapping away. I’m grateful to have a few shots though of their little baking date.

We managed to see the new “Oz The Great and Powerful” movie with them and Dylan. We went to dinner at the Keg, shopped, laughed, played games, went to the Lego exhibit in Sidney, ate, soaked in the hot tub, and a few of us even had a bought of the flu together (hope you guys feel better soon!). Thanks so much for the fun visit Mom and Dad – we love it when you’re with us!!