For Pops

It has been almost two years since you left, Pops, and my heart still feels tired and worn out sometimes.

There's so much you've missed. So much that has changed!

I think the first thing I want to tell you is I quit working at the center for autism. Not because I wanted to leave but because I need to be a better writer than I am. That's my next adventure. I was living with a safety net, so I was only going to be "sort of" a writer. I think you would still be proud of me. You remember I started working for that center in 1998? Well, they never had a place of their own. They finally managed to earn enough money to buy a site! I took them all the way up until the day they moved and then bowed my head and walked away. I suppose the trip felt more important than the destination.

Mom isn't quite right without you. She does her best to stand tall, but you can tell part of her left with you. She has taken to remodeling the house: new shelving, coats of paint and brighter colors to lighten the mood. I suppose it's a healthier way to cope than I've ever known.

Megan is working at the school for the deaf, and she is so pleased to work amongst her community. My wife is glad to be helping people and Pops you would be so proud of her! I think she is happy, which seems to make me happy.

Your grandson is still a handful! Oh but, he is so entertaining these days. He has discovered video games, and he surprises me with how good he is at them. The stuff he picks up too is quite hysterical. The other day he was asking for the Nintendo Gamepad, and he told me, "There it is! Yo yo YO!" I had to wonder for a moment if my son wasn't Flava Flav.

Nyla is a giant now! I can't get over how tall she is. She has braces now too! It's strange to think she has grown up this much since you have been gone. She is in middle school! Can you believe it? I keep trying not to blink because I know a moment later she might be in college. She's got almost straight As in everything except science! I can't blame her either since I always hated science.

Myself, though, I don't know. I was reminded of your lessons that I hold dear, by a friend who said to me,

"A rising tide lifts all boats."

It is not a lesson you taught me in so many words, but it is something I learned in how you always sprinted to help people up when they fell. The way you always bent over backward to encourage someone to stand taller. You know, I've lost count at how many times I saw you risk your life running into the street to drag someone out of an accident? This fact still blows my mind on a daily basis. I've never seen someone else's father do that. We never acted like this was a strange thing in the digital age. To us, it wasn't! You just helped people. There was no why.

I took those lessons from you and applied them to life. I have helped design a better communications app for kids with autism. We have an alpha build that is almost finished! I can't believe that it has come this far. More importantly, I've had good friends rally around me to help me make it. It has been exciting! I think you'd be pleased.

Oh, and the award I named after us, the Mixy award. Last year Elanor, the lady who helped make it a grand thing, she said she thought it should be an every year thing! It was supposed just to be a thing to cheer folks up in the moment, and now it is a bit prestigious. There is a committee. We had presenters! A few folks were even so excited that they cried on stage!

I think we made people happy. I wish you were here for all of this.

Doing these things felt like a fluke to me. They didn't feel like something that happened on purpose but, something I fell into without thinking. I think that was the genius in your parenting. You accidentally taught me how to be a better person. It didn't need words or lectures. You just ran around helping people, and I watched you do it. Somewhere along the line, I found myself running alongside you, trying to help folks. Then one day, you bowed your head and quietly stepped away. I miss our journey together, but I think I'm finally at the destination you wanted for me. I'm finally standing in your shadow, hoping I can do it justice. Thanks, Pops, for lifting me up and never giving up on me. You are missed. We all standing taller because of you.