When my friend Cassie and I connected about an interview for The Thersday Series, I knew it would be special. Cassie is a beautiful writer and, I’m learning, is also wickedly funny. A trait I bet is from her daddy, a remarkable man who passed away six years ago. What I didn’t realize is how closely her interview would be published in relation to Father’s Day. Cassie’s story about her dad, Mike, is both touching and sharp. She reminds us that grief can be raw even years after death, and her words encourage us to look for imprints of our loved ones along the way. Welcome, Cassie Mullins Moses, to the blog. Thank you for sharing your story with me.
Tell us about your daddy.
My dad’s name was Mike Mullins and he loved his family. I could call him at any hour (and did on more than one occasion!) and he was happy to hear my voice. My dad ran a community service based non profit for 35 years and called it his life’s mission. He truly believed God placed him at the Hindman Settlement School for a reason and he worked hard every single day. Dad loved his church, bluegrass music, UK basketball, Broadway shows, and working in his garden. He was baptized as an adult and credits MY tenacious Sunday School teacher with getting him and my mom to attend church. He was my best friend. My dad died at the age of 63 while exercising. It was a complete shock. My mom called me at 9 p.m. on a Sunday night to deliver the news. I’ll never forget the words, “Your dad had a heart attack…he’s gone.” Then I remember being in my living room floor. I didn’t faint. I simply couldn’t hold myself up anymore.
Those who have experienced the loss of a parent say the grief never truly goes away. How do you overcome difficult moments?
The pain of losing a parent or anyone you love dearly does not go away. You learn to live with the pain because there’s no other choice. In the very first days I felt physical pain because my grief was so intense. I told my husband, Stephen, that my heart hurt because it did. I felt an ache in my chest. For about two weeks, every time I woke up and realized that my dad was truly gone, I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. I learned how to live with my grief. I saw a counselor and I accepted any and all help that was offered by my friends. I made myself get up and function each day because our three daughters needed their mother; I decided on the day of his funeral that I would not let them lose me too.
My husband has been my rock. He has never dismissed my grief. I have said some really terrible things over the past six years in moments of anger and hurt. Stephen has listened, he has given me space when I needed it, and he has never given up on me. If anything, he has loved me harder.
Father’s Day is just a few weeks away. How will you honor your dad’s life this year?
For the first two years after his death, I completely checked out on Father’s Day. No church, no special meals, nothing. But that wasn’t fair to my husband. I still don’t attend church on that day but I do make sure we celebrate my dad and my husband. This year we will be at the beach which was one of my dad’s favorite places. I will talk to him while I watch the waves.
Are there traits or virtues in you or your girls that you just know are your Dad’s handiwork? Describe the legacy he’s imprinted on you.
Riley (age 14) was 7 when dad died and it had the most impact on her. She was “Poppy’s girl.” She remembers him the most and her ability to love and accept everyone exactly as they are is a trait of my father. Lily (age 12) was 6 when he died and though she never really cried or expressed her grief at the time, she loves to talk about Dad and hear stories. Lily likes being outdoors just like he did. I see Dad most clearly in my youngest, Bailey (age 9). She was only 2 when he died so she remembers very little and that has always been hard for me. But she is the most like my dad in terms of personality and I just feel that’s a gift God has given me.
The relationship I had with my dad was very special. I knew how much he loved me and he knew how much I loved him. I have no regrets. He instilled in me the desire to serve my community and always be kind to others. He and my mom were a great example of marriage and how you should love your family. I hope he would be proud of me.
Who keeps you company on your journey?
My mom, husband, and children are my reason for everything I do. It isn’t always easy and some days I struggle but I choose to be thankful for the 35 years I DID have with my dad. I once heard someone say, “It isn’t the quantity, it’s the quality.” There would never be enough time with him. I would always want more. However, the quality of the time we had together was a beautiful gift and something I will cherish forever.