I miss my dad. When I was young my father would let me come to work with him from time to time. He framed houses in Central Illinois, and he was great at it. It took me years to know how great he was at it. He could look at a blueprint and in his mind he could see every wall, stair, hip, valley, ridge, window, header, trim, window, and door. He knew how it was going to come together.

He would look at the empty sky where the roof would be, mumbling to himself what seemed like random numbers, scribbling on a cut 2X4 (we lovingly called the "carpenter's notebook") just before he would perform incredible feats of strength, lifting a 25ft microlam with one hand, tossing it with ease against the soon-to-be house as if it weighed no more than a pencil. You wouldn't know how impressive it was until you try to repeat the same actions, both the mental agility of piecing a home together in your brain, then tossing around an extremely heavy beam with you brawn. It was truly incredible.

I miss him dearly. Not only was he extremely tough, and smart, he was also extremely kind and considerate. These all sound like cliches you say when someone is gone, but they could not be more true with Tracy.

Everything I know about what it is to be a man I learned from him. I learned that being tough and being compassionate are not mutually exclusive. I learned that the best way to win a fight is to make a friend. I learned that living a good story is even better than telling one.

Revisiting these lessons reminds me that he had completed his task at being my father. His lessons will be hitting me over and over for the rest of my life. I only wish he was here so I could know him a lifelong friend as well. . . Or maybe I did.

I miss you, dad.