In that photo, my Dad is nineteen. Smiling in the back row on his way to America. He's on the Holland-America Line, a boat that will take him to Ellis Island in New York. He's seated at a table of strangers but he looks so very happy. Happy and hopeful. With just one small suitcase and a handful of change in his pocket, he's determined to chase down a dream. He doesn't know English. He doesn't know anyone. He doesn't have a place to stay. But it's the beginning of a journey to make something from nothing.
He worked hard. Break-your-body down night-shift hard. He taught himself to navigate the stock market and how to invest a dollar to make a dollar. He was married for 63 years. He put three sons through college. He loved adventures on the open road. He loved the American west and exploring its natural beauty. He loved soccer. He loved his garden. He loved you, as long as you were real and genuine and honest. He loved his grandkids more than anything.
He didn't give a lot of advice other than "be good." And maybe that's enough, really. His actions defined him and little by little, he built a life focused on what really matters.
So tomorrow, go make something from nothing. It's not easy, but he'll be proud of you for trying.
Rest in peace Papa (1937-2023).