Dad always called me Annabelle.
Although I am unsure of exactly when he coined the term, he was loyal in its use. Whether it was spoken quietly near a favorite fishing hole, or hollered loudly from the crowd when I prepared to burst out of the starting blocks: there was both comfort and love intertwined with the name.
It became a bit of a joke amongst my teammates because Dad’s booming voice yelling Go Annabelle on the swimming deck was well known. There were likely a few times during my early high school years when it brought on a touch of embarrassment; however, those words are a mantra that I still carry with me today.
The path that I chose for my professional adult life has not been an easy one. When I entered the world of cattle feeding as a 22 year old, there were very few young women following the same path. Additionally, I was an outsider coming into a new culture with a different life perspective. It seemed, at times, that I was truly speaking a different language than my fellow cattlemen.
Add in the physical and mental challenges of learning to care for large food animals, and the combination became a bit daunting. There were days when my dad’s magic words kept me going as I whispered Go Annabelle under my breath. As I said it, I would think of my dad and the stubborn tenacity that marked his personality.
My dad was an inherent believer. The words quitting or failure never entered his radar screen. His life was marked by conscientiously moving forward with quiet confidence. In many ways, he was a purest with a steadfast commitment to striving for what he believed was right.
To him, life was not a popularity contest—rather the chance to work for positive change.
Although my dad’s time on earth is through, the words Go Annabelle will endure. They live on in my heart and will continue to inspire me as I make my own journey through life.
I look forward to continuing to feel the warmth of that signature smile that always lit up his face when I made him proud.