I Grew Up a Rich Girl

Friends, it has been a rough few weeks. I nearly lost my mama to a freak accident on June 21, and just 10 days later I lost my daddy to cancer.


It was a blessing to hold Daddy’s hand over his last 72 hours, to whisper in his ear words I wish I’d said years ago, to see my still-healing mama care for him.


But the loss is raw, the wounds still throb, and I am processing. It feels like I just hit my thumb with a hammer and my first words might not be appropriate for general audiences. I never want to write here from a point of pain, but rather from a point of perspective. It took me two years after my heart failure diagnosis to start this blog for that same reason.


So, rather than voice what I am not yet ready to say, I am choosing to share some well-considered words I have written in the past about my amazing daddy. My first love, my biggest fan, the smartest, bravest person my path has had the privilege to cross, I will spend the remnant of my life trying to fully understand and appreciate him.


At this point, I do know this:  Daddy showed us all how to suffer well, and not just with cancer.

He suffered well his entire life, with humility and resolve, humor and resilience.


It was grace watching him live out his final days.

This last gift to me may have been his best.




The following piece I wrote for my daddy on Father’s Day 2015.


Since I *organize* my workspace the same way he did, I know he felt more comfortable with well-placed piles so he wouldn’t forget the important. I was reminded of this today as we sorted through his desk, still strewn with work he had intended to complete. Despite his messy filing system, my old letter sat prominently in his top drawer, covering a huge, much-newer stack of papers.


Finding it there so conspicuous, I like to think he re-read it on days he still needed to hear it.

Because I still feel it every day:


I had the privilege of growing up a rich girl.


We didn’t live in a mansion or drive fancy cars or go on European vacations. But I was a rich girl because I had a daddy who loved me and I knew it. No matter how hectic his day, he made a priority of talking to me, just me, for three minutes every night before I fell asleep from the time I was four years old.


His name wasn’t in the headlines, but I saw hard work and happiness and hope in front of me every day. Life wasn’t always an easy road for him, but his four children didn’t know it.


We knew an optimistic dreamer, a daddy who loved change and looked forward to future challenges. We knew a brilliant daddy who thrived on learning, and on humbly helping everyone around him learn, too.


We knew a daddy who brought turtles home in pickup beds or bunnies home in water jugs. We knew a daddy who would give us his last bottle of Pepsi and his last Snickers bar, or buy us a letter jacket we’d never wear, even when money was tight for family farmers. We knew a daddy who would rescue us at the most inconvenient times and in the most embarrassing situations, a daddy who could never contain his pride for us even when we weren’t so proud of ourselves.


I grew up a rich girl and I received a huge inheritance from my daddy: the legacy that giving up is not an option, even when you don’t feel like taking one more step. I received the gift of resilience when life doesn’t always go the way you had imagined that it would. I was given the example of second chances, of valuing grace received and the joy of giving it to others.


My daddy has worked his entire life to establish that inheritance.

And it is priceless to me now.

Yes, I grew up a rich girl, and I always will be, because Gene Grabs was my daddy.




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26 thoughts on “I Grew Up a Rich Girl”

  • 1
    Holly Hook on July 7, 2020 Reply

    What a legacy! What great memories on paper. Great Job and praying as you grieve his loss.

    • 2
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Thank you, Holly. I know you will be a valuable resource as I travel the difficult days ahead. Appreciate your support so much.

  • 3
    Dell Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

    Gene Grabs was a remarkable person. His supreme intelligence and uncommon humility live on in you Lori. We lost a good one, but he and Gert raised four others that give back in uncommon ways. Blessings as you cherish the memories and live “rich”.

    • 4
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Anyone who knew my dad loved and admired him. It is a blessing to hear from those he touched. He left big shoes to fill, for sure.

  • 5
    Leigh Ann Zeller on July 7, 2020 Reply

    Oh Lori, I don’t have words for how moving your story with your Dad is. Yes, you certainly did grow up a rich girl. I am holding you in my heart as you mourn his passing. Continuing keeping you and your family in my prayers.

    • 6
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Thank you, sweet friend. These are the days we realize what’s really important. Thank you for the prayers, and mine continue for you as well.

  • 7
    Shelly Wilkinson on July 7, 2020 Reply

    Beautiful words, Lori. I’m certain he was honored and blessed to be your daddy, and so very proud of you for learning these precious life lessons. Hugs to you my friend.

    • 8
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Thank you, Shelly. Great to hear from you.

  • 9
    Diane Stolz on July 7, 2020 Reply

    I am so sorry for your loss, Lori! I send my prayers of sympathy to your entire family and for continued healing for your mother. You were blessed to have him as your daddy and he certainly was blessed to have you as his loving daughter. God bless to all of you.

    • 10
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      We appreciate the prayers very much. They are life sustaining in this difficult season. Blessings to you.

  • 11
    Linda west on July 7, 2020 Reply

    Lori, This is a beautiful tribute to your dad. I did not get to spend much time with him, but always felt he was a kind intelligent man. Your description of him reminds me so much of how I felt about my dad. I think this speaks well for our mothers who knew and married great men and together they raised us in a home where we never doubted we were loved. I am so thankful to read your words it gives me comfort to know of your feelings. Please tell your mother hello for me and take care of her and yourself…Love to all your family, Linda

    • 12
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Linda, he was exceptional, and I know you understand how it feels to lose a well-loved daddy. We are both blessed to have the families we do. It is always great to hear from you!

  • 13
    Julie Knight on July 7, 2020 Reply

    What a beautiful tribute to your father. You were truly rich. Praying for you and your family.

    • 14
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Grief is the price of loving someone. I know you understand what I am going through, losing a great daddy. Love you, friend.

  • 15
    Brandon on July 7, 2020 Reply

    Great post, Lori. I am not exactly sure how I stumbled across your blog today, but here I am. No doubt, grandpa will be missed dearly by all. It seems like last Thanksgiving we were all playing football in the front yard out at the farm. Indeed, I told Brad when he called me on my birthday that I remember when he told me it was his twenty-third birthday. It seems like we have found a time warp. Just like grandpa and grandma, Dell and you have lived a remarkable life to date. It’s readily apparent to me that your father (and mother) live on through you. I wish you well and pray that you continue to find the gold nuggets of love, strength, and perseverance your father instilled in you. God Bless.

    • 16
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      It made my day to hear from you, Brandon. And you are so right, we have all been deceived by time in one way or another, believing we will always have some to spare, or denying its passage at all. Dad was always intrigued by time as well. We will all miss him terribly. A lifetime of great memories from the farm. He talked about you just a few days before he died. He loved and respected you so very much. Thank you for reaching out. Continued health and rich blessings to you and Katie.

  • 17
    Beth Pesnell on July 7, 2020 Reply

    What a beautiful perspective! You are a very rich girl and have an amazing legacy because of him! I’m in tears after reading this, and am praying for you, knowing the rawness of your feelings, foggy head, and lonely heart! Thank you for sharing this, even though it’s hard now! Love you dearly!

    • 18
      Lori Ann Wood on July 7, 2020 Reply

      Love you, too, Beth! I know you understand losing a stellar daddy. I still miss yours very much as well.

  • 19
    Martha Halford on July 9, 2020 Reply

    Such a blessing to read your words. They brought me to tears missing my own daddy. You had a great childhood with lots of good memories. Cherish them always. Thank you Lori for sharing your heart and words with us all.

    • 20
      Lori Ann Wood on July 9, 2020 Reply

      So glad it helped bring sweet memories of your daddy. Love you, friend.

  • 21
    Gary Halford on July 9, 2020 Reply

    Lori the missing part never goes away. My dad has been gone 19 years and it still seems like last week sometimes. I the the missing our parents when they have passed away is the spark to allow us to once again reflect on the great memories and people they were. I’m thankful for that sadness even though it’s hard because I can keep those great memories of how great of an upbringing I received. Your words & heart are a constant encouragement dear friend. Grace & peace ❤️

    • 22
      Lori Ann Wood on July 9, 2020 Reply

      I know you understand that deep missing feeling. Thank you for your perspective and encouragement. We are never fully prepared for life’s transitions, but with the help of others who have already navigated the waters, we make it through. Blessed to know you, friend.

  • 23
    Sally McGovern on July 9, 2020 Reply

    Beautiful tribute Lori. Your letter was equally moving and profound. How proud he must have been of you. So sorry for the loss of your dad. You are indeed rich and you enrich us with your insight, kindness and hard work through the tough times. You surely help more than you realize.

    • 24
      Lori Ann Wood on July 9, 2020 Reply

      Sally, your kind words always come at the most needed times. Thank you.

  • 25
    Jill on July 10, 2020 Reply

    Oh Lori, this makes me smile and sad at the same time. You’re dad was one of the best, right along with your mom. So many memories of the two of them from walking into your house to their office in town.
    Your dad was well-respected by many and he will be missed. Many hugs to you and also your mom. I know she will miss him so much.

    • 26
      Lori Ann Wood on July 10, 2020 Reply

      They both love you and your family dearly. We had some great times in school, on vacations, and especially during sleepovers. Our lives overlapped so much for so long. And losing your own parents, you understand this journey. Great to hear from you.

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