My hero died on Sunday.
George "Buster" Cruickshank was 93 years old. As long as I had him around, I felt I still had a parent here on earth, even though my parents had already passed away.
I saw him every Sunday, when he would give me a hug and say, "You are my daughter. I love you."
On birthdays and Christmas, I got special cards from him that were signed "Love, Dad." As his eyesight grew weaker, the writing was bigger and a bit shaky. The cards became more precious.
Pop Cruickshank was a shining example of faith, love and resilience.
After spending his childhood in an orphanage, he became part of a family when he was 12. Perhaps his strong love for family stemmed from the fact that it took him so long to have one.
After he married the love of his life, Marie, they raised five children — six, if you count me. They considered me one of the kids and introduced me as a daughter. During my teenage years, I was at their house nearly as much as my own. They took me on vacation with them, and it was the first time I ever saw the beach.
After 65 years of marriage, Mom Cruickshank passed away in 2006.
Pop Cruickshank often spoke of his love for her, but he continued to set an example of resiliency. He stayed busy with family, community activities, and church, his favorite place to be.