Celebrating more than 32 years of life today

I started early....whipping up a delicious Trimarni creation!

Wow! I have been living for 11680 days!

Today celebrates 32 years that I have been on this Earth. 

32 years of growing, learning, overcoming obstacles and heartache, laughing, loving, traveling, making memories, crossing finishing lines and experiencing life. 

Today is not only my birthday but also the day when I met my life partner, Karel. 

Meeting Karel on my birthday not only made it easy for us to remember the first day when we met (which resulted from us being set-up by mutual friends on a group bike ride) but it's very special that I will always be able to celebrate living another year of life with someone who I get to share the rest of my life with. 

And if you know us well, we sure do love to experience life with our gift of good health. 

I could fill this blog with hundreds and hundreds of words about all the experiences and memories I have had over the past 32 years as well as dozens and dozens of pictures to capture those special moments. 

But I would not be able to experience life if it was not for the most amazing parents who brought me into this world and raised me to the best of their abilities. 

I love my family!

With a very heavy heart, this birthday is the first time I celebrate another year of life without my dad. 

The most amazing man I know, Dr. James A. Rakes, O.D., F.A.A.O., passed away on Wednesday May 28th, 2014 at the age of 67 years after a heroic 10-month fight with a rare cancer. 

I realize that this will be recent news for many but my super healthy and active day (who never missed a day of work for a sickness and ran 3 miles every day for as long as I can remember) started his battle with cancer a few weeks before Karel and I went to Lake Placid for our Ironman last July (Karel's first Ironman). I am not quite ready to use my brain and heart to give my dad the Trimarni blog (from his daughter) tribute that he deserves so for now I want to share the obituary that my brother and I put together about our amazing dad. 
(I have personalized this obituary specifically for this blog post)

My dad was an Indiana University graduate where he completed Optometry school and continued his residency at the University of Kentucky. He recently retired from the VA hospital as the chief optometrist of the VA eye clinic in New Port Richey, FL. He was a Primary Low Vision care provider and optometric physician.

My dad touched many patient lives in his almost 40 years of working for the VA hospital as he was extremely dedicated to his work, his research, his teachings and helping others. As the director of residency and extern programs, he guided over 100 optometry students to excel in their field.  He was a Fellow of the American Academy of Optometry and was on the Indiana University adjunct faculty.

In 1977, my dad married the love of his life, and best friend, Susie Rakes (Congress) and together they had me (who married Karel in October 2008) and my younger brother Aaron (who married Dana in September 2013). Me and my brother have always lived a very active lifestyle, just like their father.

My dad loved life and his family. He always had a positive spirit, a great sense of humor and the ability to tell the best stories. As a high school track and wresting athlete, he continued to stay fit through daily running and held a strong passion for astronomy, stamp collecting, corvettes, classic movies, anything electronic and the weather.

My dad will be greatly missed by so many for he was incredibly kind, loving, patient and supportive. 

In lieu of flowers, memorial donations can be made to the Borish Center forOpthalmic Research.

And the Cancer Survivors Park in Greenville, South Carolina.


In honor of my dad, who absolutely loved life, his job of helping others and his family, it is my wish for you to never wait in life to do what you want to do. 
There will never be a perfect time for something so don't wait until tomorrow to start something today. 
As you know, Karel and I made our recent move to Greenville to live an active lifestyle in a beautiful city as we continue to work hard to grow our business.  
We knew this move was risky as small business owners but even after 3 weeks, we do not regret this decision. 

You only have one life and there's nothing better than waking up excited to experience another day of life.
Dream really big and accept hard work.
Take care of your body, it's the only place you have to live.
Have fun, laugh and smile as you make memories. 
Pick your battles and don't waste your breath arguing over something that is not important. 

Stand up for what you believe in, keep an open mind, be flexible and accept others for who they are.
See the good in every minute of your life. 
Live the life you have always wanted to live. 

I love you Dad, always and forever. Thank you for being my biggest fan, for raising me to work hard for success, for always being proud of me, for taking the best pictures at my races, for never having a bad day, for loving mom and showing me what it is like to have a great marriage for over 35 years, for welcoming Karel into our family and for always loving me.