Happy Birthday, Dad.
I've missed you a lot as of late. There is so much that has happened that I would love to discuss with you. Everything from the Trump election, the recent Grammy's, relationships, The Reverent Few's shows at the Saxon Pub (I really wish you could have been at that one.) Our up and coming show at 310 ACL. We're chipping away at the big climb little by little. I could use your advice on places to live and woodworking. I'd love to show you my new Collings I35 LC. I have that random urge to give you a call to tell you something, then realize that's no longer the way to get a hold of you.
I guess you already know, wherever you are. I miss you.
I remember the day my faith changed. I was young. Perhaps middle school. Our household was a loving one in which we all cared deeply about each other, but it was mostly with ease sprinkled with the occasional blow-out fight, but we always apologized to each other and hugged it out no matter what. I think that part was the core of what made our family really work.
Growing up we were raised Catholic much like most of the community around us, because that's what you do to be a part of things. Catholic schools were also the good schools around, so that's where we went. We were only OK at being Catholic, occasionally dragging ourselves out of the house to go to Church. . . but my dad always stayed home.
This wasn't a big deal. He just wasn't into it, and so the rest of us went until we got busy and ran out of steam to go, saving our Sundays for BBQ's, grandma visits, and whatnot.
My oldest sister was getting more involved with her church at the time and was finding herself. I remember one day she and my dad were having a discussion about religion, God, and faith, which was not particularly unusual in our house. We were all smart, curious, and looking for answers all the time. In this particular conversation my oldest sister seemed to be concerned about my father's lack of faith. They had a discussion and didn't come to an agreement that day, and I know these questions, weighed on my father as well as what it meant for their relationship.
After their talk my dad pulled me aside. He didn't tell me what to think. He didn't disparage my sister's thoughts on the matter. He simply told me that they had a talk and that she worried about his lack of faith, and that he believes what he believes, and she believes what she believes, and that's ok. There was no pressure, no taking sides, no discouragement to me on my journey of understanding where we came from and where we are going. Just love and support. It was a lot to think about for a 6th grader.
Around that same time there was another event that shook my faith around like marbles in a glass jar.
I was fast asleep, dreaming about whatever kids dream, when I hear my dad come in the room. He seemed stirred up about something. He told me he had a dream.
He dreamed it was the end of the world. The ground fell out from under him, the walls were dividing, the sky turned red, and the house was falling apart. It was the Apocalypse for real. Terrifying. He told me that in his dream as the world was ending and that we (me, my mom, and my two sisters) were going to heaven and he was headed to hell. He wanted to tell me he loved me and my sisters.
This was a lot to take in, but he knew I could handle it. For me it was a proud moment that my dad, the strongest man I've ever known, would come to me when he was scared. Just for a brief moment, I got to be the strong one. I gave him a hug and told him I loved him too, and he went on back to bed.
It didn't take long for my conclusion to become crystal clear.
My dad is the perfect example of what a father should be. He's loving, caring, strong, smart, protective, trusting, friendly, creative, silly, playful, adventurous, tough, and he gave us everything we needed. If ANYONE deserves to go to heaven, it's him. Any argument that says otherwise is simply wrong. There's no discussion about it. Anybody who knew him would completely agree.
As we all wade through our own spiritual journeys trying to find answers, but what we don't know are the questions. We're all looking for the same thing: a sense of peace throughout our journey here on earth. We're looking for one answer to all the questions. There is no one answer. There are many answers because there are many questions, and not all of us are asking the same questions.
When it comes to my dad, Tracy Dale Boettcher, there is no question that he is my favorite man who ever lived. I miss you dad.
Now I'm going to watch martial arts movies and eat Boettcher Burgers in your honor.