Giving thanks for dad

Published: Sunday, Nov. 24, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT

To cope with her father's cancer, Heather Starks would exchange random texts with him about things they were thankful for throughout the day.

"It would be things as simple as, 'I'm thankful for a Slurpee," remembered Starks, 42, of Alden.

Another was a good cup of coffee in the morning, she said.

After her father died in October 2012 of prostate cancer, Starks sat down and began writing "31 Days of Thanks."

She shared those text messages as well as a sort of glimpse into her family's history and the traits she inherited from family members, including her father's humor. Readers are given space to write down what they're thankful for at the end of the book.

The book both honors her father, Scott Love of Wonder Lake, as well as serves as perhaps a resource for others going through difficult times, Starks said.

"Hopefully, people will buy it, and they can see that there is still something out there that can make you happy even in the worst times in your life," she said. "Dealing with an illness such as cancer is such a horrible thing, especially for the family."

Her father had a way of dealing with sad things with humor, he said, still making jokes even when he was at his sickest.

"He would never want anyone to feel sorry for themselves," she said. "You have to look at the bright side of everything no matter how horrible it is."

Starks wrote her first book, "Stains on My Shirt," about five years ago, sharing humorous stories about life as a stay-at-home mother to two sons.

The second book just kind of flowed out of her after her father's death, she said.

"Dad was my hero, my best friend, and writing this book was somewhat therapeutic," she said.

She remembered many of the "silly" things he'd do, such as randomly putting onions or potatoes in the purses of her and her mother, Lynne. He had sort of a "man crush" on Thor and would talk about the superhero often, she said.

And he'd make sure to reposition a Santa Claus she hung on her wall every Christmas.

"You knew dad was in the house," she said.

"He was a nut, just a silly guy."

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