On November 30, 2016, my dad was called to Heaven. This experience forever shifted the landscape of my life. It took me a year & a half to share the piece you will read below. I continually started, stopped, and started over again. I never felt I got it quite right. You will read a bit of my backstory, the events that occurred in my father’s last few years, and where I plan to take this journey we call “life.”
I dedicated my podcast (Business In Boardshorts) to my dad on November 30th, 2020. The 4-year anniversary of his passing. You can listen to it below or by clicking here.
Published February 18, 2018
My dad started his company out of his bedroom. From these humble beginnings, 34 years and 15 employees later, he grew the business into a thriving and successful one. I was able to lend a part in that and help grow their website portfolio from five to 70+. We fully built, managed, secured, and supported these sites 24/7/365.
I always said I took the job at my dad’s company for two reasons—first, to learn everything I could about business and the web world, and second, so I could work alongside my dad and uncle every day. Family has, and always will be, deeply important to me, so I couldn’t think of a better way to break into my professional career than with loved ones by my side and in my corner. I showed up each day committed to work and to never stop learning.
About a year before I left to start my own business in May 2017, I began freelancing on the side and enjoyed the heck out of it. One night I was talking to a potential client stuck in traffic on the west coast about their website needs. This ended up being one of my most memorable “AH-HA!” moments–the ability to work for anyone from anywhere with Wi-Fi is utterly amazing. We are living through an incredible era where we can video chat with someone ten time zones away with the simple click of a button.
Through the summer months of 2016, my mom and I (among many others) started noticing changes in my dad’s behavior. For example, in mid-July he stopped posting or engaging on social media. Prior to this, I had stopped using the platform as a result of his posting too often (no kidding)! When I found out he randomly stopped posting, it was a huge red flag. There were other signs too: memory loss, fatigue, not being actively “engaged” in conversations, etc. I had a gut feeling something was seriously wrong. I remember, and always will, those numerous conversations I had with my mom trying to figure out the problem.
The last real conversation I had with my dad was on September 7, 2016. It was his 56th birthday. We went out for dinner and a movie, Hands of Stone, just the two of us. I explained to him my intentions to leave the family business sometime in 2017 to freelance full-time. I received his blessing–something I needed to hear more than I could have known at the time.. When we left the movie theater that night, I remember him hugging me and saying, “this was the best birthday present I could have asked for.”
A few short weeks later, my dad was diagnosed with a Glioblastoma (GMB) brain tumor. (I took this sentence out). The tumor was so large, and in such a delicate spot, surgery to remove it wasn’t an option. He could have opted for aggressive radiation and chemotherapy but his quality of life could have been poor and he decided against it. He had seen his own father go through a prolonged battle with cancer and I don’t think he ever gave chemo a consideration. Deciding against treatment, he was given three months to live. He wanted to be home amongst family, friends, and our dogs–and that’s exactly where he would be.
Following fourteen days with almost no food or drink, on November 30, 2016, my father was called to Heaven. The word “tragedy” may come to mind while you’re reading this, but I choose to see these events differently. There were so many blessings throughout those last few months. The ability to stay home with him every day during this process is something I will cherish forever. On one hand, seeing my father’s illness was the hardest thing I’ve ever gone through. I never dreamt that at the age of 28 I would be a caregiver for my dad, that I would be watching him fall into a coma-like state and attending his funeral. But on the other hand, as a result, I’ve been given an amazing perspective on life. How I show up in the world, how I treat others on a daily basis, and how I learned to live life with gratitude, intention and purpose is something that has been forever impacted by his life. I see it as a gift that God gave me my abilities and perspective, and I need to share them with the world.
May 2017 – Present
I firmly believe my dad passed on his entrepreneurial spirit to me. It’s something I never knew I had. I told him I was just going to be a “freelance web guy” but that clearly has not been the case. I have so many different business ideas, I want to impact so many people, and I want to leave this world a far better place than how I found it.
My dad was the best role model I could have asked for and I wouldn’t be the man I am without his guidance. My goal growing up was to always make him proud and even though he’s no longer physically on this earth, my attitude won’t change. He has a front-row seat to it all now. He left a legacy with everyone he came into contact with (whether he realized that or not). It’s my job to not only keep that candle burning for him, but also build a legacy of my own. Here’s to the start of that journey!