As an only child, I was always close to my mom. Growing up she ran the gamut of meeting what my day-to-day needs were whether guidance, a shoulder to cry on, someone to complain to or a disciplinarian although I was so good that discipline was not needed much (ha, ha). My dad was always either present or a phone call away to what was happening but not the active participant that my mom was. I always thought it was because I was a girl instead of a boy so it wasn’t until Sam and Nick came to be his grandsons and I saw his interaction with them and it was mostly similar to mine that I realized that’s how my dad operated. Over the years he has shown me what I would not have otherwise seen and his profound statements have stuck with me. I remember when I was old enough to take care of a pet and wanted a dog. My dad’s profound statement was, “Pets are for life.” He was right of course. Then I remember my Junior year at the University of Illinois, I had just met with my guidance counselor and the realization of the heavy class load I would have my Senior year had frightened me by my greatest fear, failure. On the drive from campus to my parent’s house for the weekend, I had figured out that I could avoid failure because I didn’t need a college degree. I was working practically full-time at what had started out as my part-time job since Freshmen year. I could just go to work full-time and avoid failing my Senior year of college I reasoned. The rest of the forty-five minute car drive home, I planned how I would approach my parents for their understanding. Telling my mom first would be easiest and if I could gain her support, I was home-free I thought. No failure at college would be realized. And when I got home, it was working in my favor because just as I drove up to the house, my mom was walking the dog (the pet for life). I jumped out of the car and ran to catch up with her and Sloopy. I started with small chit-chat and then launched in by telling her I had been thinking and I decided that I really didn’t need a college degree and I was just going to go to work full-time where I already had a job making good money for someone without a degree. She nodded her head in understanding and didn’t say anything noteworthy. Then we arrived back at the house and I thought she would tell my dad my “new” status and all would be well. So we walked in the house and my dad was sitting in “his” easy chair with the paper opened up in front of him so that his face was not visible behind Danville’s news headlines. My mom said quite nonchalantly as she took off Sloopy’s leash, “Jay, Jeanine just said that she doesn’t think she needs to get her degree and plans to go to work full-time in the same job where she’s earning her spending money now.” I can visualize it all to this day. The paper didn’t move, not a page turned or creased, nor did the paper get cast to his side. Instead, behind the paper in-between his reading came the words, “No, Jeanine needs to get her degree so she needs to stay in college.” My mom said, “Yes, that’s what I thought.” And there was no other discussion. When the weekend was over, I went back to my campus apartment, my spending money job and I finished my Senior year and got my degree with a 3.54 GPA; I didn’t fail. My dad was right. Fast forward to this past July 4th. I was walking out of my parent’s house after my fifth day there, in bewilderment and confusion for the most part. I had nowhere to be going but my dad was sitting outside in “his” lawn chair and so I walked towards him, shaking my head as the tears rolled down my cheeks; looking at him, I said, “I just don’t understand; I don’t know why Sam’s gone.” My dad reached for me and in his loving arms he said to me, “I know. We were robbed and we won’t know why.” And I remember he held me while I cried still more. I love my dad.