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Dad’s surprise was a lifetime in the making – as told by his children

Our dad’s story begins on July 25, 1948. His parents (our grandparents) instantly knew that there was something very special about their child. He was an active and busy child with a permanent, mischievous smile on his face. That smile always made people wonder what he’d been up to. But as my grandma used to say, he was a perfect child. Or so she thought. In 1965, he met our mother and that is when his real story begins. He and our mother, Donna, instantly fell in love. And of course, like many passionate, teenage (and irresponsible) romances, they found themselves in a bit of a problematic situation when they discovered that our mother was pregnant. That is when our grandma discovered exactly what our dad had been up to and was not the perfect son she thought he was. But he was a man of integrity and honor and he would do the right thing. That’s the kind of person he is and we would come to expect nothing less of him.

Our parents were married on June 9, 1966. They wouldn’t have it any other way. They were just teenagers, with their whole lives ahead of them. They weren’t sure what the future held for them, but one thing was certain and that was that they would be together forever. They knew that there would be bumps and obstacles along the way, but nothing could get in the way of their love for each other.

Tammy, their oldest daughter, was born on Nov. 23, 1966. Then Tanya was born on March 7, 1970. When our parents were in their late 20s and early 30s, they decided to add to their family and so then came Torri on July 6, 1978, and Jeremy James (J.J.) on Feb. 22, 1980. Life with four kids was busy and hectic, but also wonderful and fulfilling. They wouldn’t want it any other way.

They have had many ups and downs over the years, but they knew that they could face anything as long as they had each other. The road they’ve traveled thus far has taken them on a journey of four kids, six grandkids, births and deaths, tears and smiles, fears and worries, trials and tribulations, joy and sadness; most of all though, it’s been pure happiness. After all, they’ve had each other and they wouldn’t want it any other way.

Time seemed to fly by, as it always does, and before they knew it, 43 years had gone by. They continued to enjoy life, each other, and the anticipation of what life still had to offer. It’s funny how your life can all change in an instant. That’s exactly what happened to our parents on Jan. 20, 2009 – Inauguration Day. When the rest of the country was celebrating a new era of hope and optimism, our dad received the devastating news that he had Lou Gehrig’s disease (ALS). Knowing that this was a terminal disease and there was nothing we could do about it, our family was obviously devastated. How can such bad things happen to such good people? Not just good people, but the best of people? But like the honorable Lou Gehrig and the disease that ALS is named after, our dad doesn’t see it that way. He considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth. He’s had an incredible life thus far and he will continue to make it that way. He wouldn’t want it any other way.

We are hopeful that we will have many, many more years with our dad; but we also know that our time with him is limited. We want to make the most of every second we have with him. As you can imagine, every holiday, every Father’s Day, every birthday takes on a whole new meaning. So, as Father’s Day was drawing closer this year, we kept tying to think of what we could do for our dad that would mean the world to him. Something that he would always cherish and hold close to his heart. John Anderson has always been one of his favorites. Our dad loves nothing more than to sit down with his family, have a glass of wine, listen to John Anderson, and to brag about what a good life he’s had so far. He wouldn’t want it any other way.

So, we all wondered, “What better way to show our dad how much we loved him than to send him to see John Anderson perform live?” And so the seed was planted.

It all started with a simple search to just check out our options. Would he be in the Seattle area? No such luck. We found out that he was playing in Tennessee. OK, we might be able to make that happen. But we couldn’t figure out how to purchase the tickets. Of course, it was something weird through Ticketmaster. So Torri promised that she’d call the venue and try to figure out how we could purchase these tickets. Never in our wildest dreams could we imagine what would transpire from that phone call. When the fire department found out about our dad and his story, they were bound and determined to give him the experience of his life! Not only did they take care of the tickets, transportation, dinner (and countless other favors) but they also provided him with the opportunity of a lifetime, to actually meet John Anderson. And to top it off, all of this will be a surprise to him! He will be floored, to say the least! This week has been an absolute whirlwind for us, as the smiles and tears of happiness have been flowing like crazy. We are all so excited for our dad and this memorable experience. We are very thankful to everyone who has come together for our dad and to make one of his few last requests happen and to literally make his dreams come true. He is such a humble man, so deserving of all good things. Although we all know that he won’t be with us as long as we want him to be, he still considers himself the luckiest man on the face of the earth and he wouldn’t want it any other way.

With the deepest gratitude from the luckiest kids on the face of the earth,

Tammy, Tanya, Torri, and J.J.

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