Happy Father's Day: Remembering my dad’s passion for life and the lessons he taught me.


By SARA VANDEN BERGE


I have only written about my dad twice since he died 12 years ago.


Most of it has to do with the fact that I’m wildly uncomfortable sharing my grief with others, but as time marches on, I feel compelled to share his legacy and acknowledge the valuable lessons I learned from him.

My dad passed away at the young age of 62 and I was right by his side when he took his final breath.


I’m not sure I have ever fully recovered from his passing. The grief all these years later is sometimes so strong that it’s suffocating; the pain in my chest makes it hard to breathe.


Losing a parent, you guys, is hard.

I try not to think of all that he missed during these past 12 years; all that we missed by not having him here.


As we honor our fathers today, now seems like a fitting time to tell you a little about mine.


Out of all the important people who have made an appearance in my life, my father’s presence was by far the most impactful.

My dad was passionate about life. I inherited his fiery temper and zest for sunshine. He enjoyed a long career as an insurance agent and taught me that with hard work, focus and determination, failure was impossible.


My dad had a strong appreciation for education and learning. He only offered his opinion when he knew what he was talking about and was an excellent listener. He had no use for stupidity.


My dad was a Californian through and through and my love for the sea, sand and sun are also from him. He read his newspaper while sitting on the front porch with his coffee every single morning.

He taught me the importance of knowing what was happening in the world.


My dad was an amazing water skier and taught me to ski when I was only six years old. I later excelled on a slalom and he pulled me around the Colorado River for hours, only stopping when my arms gave out.


He never laughed when I told him that I would grow up to be a professional water skier. He would just smile and nod and tell me that I could be anything I desired.

I’m sure he was relieved when I became a journalist and beamed with pride when my first national story landed in the Los Angeles Times. That was something he never stopped talking about.


My dad understood the value of fitness. He walked every morning and later developed an interest in kayaking.


My dad loved seafood, good wine and science fiction novels. He loved to travel and started every vacation by taking a shot of tequila. It’s a tradition my family has continued.

My dad loved a good martini, straight up. I got that from him too.


Today I plan on sipping one in his honor.


I’ll toast to the man who loved me first and, quite possibly, the most.


My hope is that each of you have a father as amazing as mine; one whose presence you still feel even after they are gone.


Happy Father’s Day.