What does a dad blogger do when another dad blogger passes away? Blog about it of course.
Right off the bat, I need to say I have no idea how this post is going to turn out. Often times I have an agenda and a method in writing a post. The beginning, middle, and end are already worked out in my mind before I type the first letter. This post, one that I figured would be written someday… I don’t know how to write. I might wander off subject or jump around. I might rattle on incoherently. But writing this post might be only for me. It might be for my dad blogger brothers. I don’t know, but here it goes.
Last weekend I arrived in San Francisco to attend the Dad 2.0 Summit, a conference for dad bloggers. This year was extra special for me because I was speaking on a panel on working with brands and how to request payment, review opportunities, interviews, etc. But there was something missing from the event. Something that kept me from fully basking in the great time that is Dad 2.0. Oren Miller was not joining us.
BloggerFather.com is a blog that Oren started in 2007. In 2014, he added a new dimension to his blog. He blogged about having stage 4 lung cancer. And he did so in a raw and honest way that left you with smiles and tears. After reading a post where he included instructions on how to approach his daughter while she plays, I emailed him and said that I wish we lived next door so our kids could play together. He responded, “There’s a house available at the end of the street.”
I first met Oren at a Dad 2.0 Summit in Houston 3 years ago. We stood next to one another as a bunch of dads were trying to figure out where to eat. We chatted with one another and decided to follow a group headed to a Mexican restaurant. We talked along the way and sat next to one another at the restaurant. I immediately felt like I had met someone that gets me. Something that most people felt when they met Oren. Oren and I were alike in a lot of ways. We could both be talkative at times, and at other times not say much at all. And we could both be nice and cynical at the same time. Our first conversation was a thing of beauty.
At the restaurant, he shared with me information about a new Facebook group that he had started. It was a closed group for Dad Bloggers. It would be a place where dads could share personal stories and thoughts as well as promote their work and learn from others. My blogging world changed dramatically after joining this group. Through this group, I was able to get jobs, learn about blogging, and become a better writer. But more importantly than all of those things, I came into a community of dads that genuinely care about one another. These dads that I have come to know and love have become good friends. There are guys within this group that I count on for more than SEO tips, analytics questions, and ways to get more sponsorships. I count on them to help me through this parenting journey. Within this group are dads of a variety of religions, races, sexual orientations, and parenting styles. There are over 1,000 members now.
As I walked around Dad 2.0 this year, I missed Oren. Many of us felt the same way. There were imprints of Oren everywhere; from dads we recognized through the Facebook page to his quotes which kicked off Dad 2.0. We toasted him as we drank and sent messages to him wishing him well and telling him that we missed him. It was also announced that a scholarship had been started in Oren’s honor to assist dad bloggers who would not be able to attend the conference without extra help.
Okay, I recognize that I am rambling on. Time to wrap it up.
Much like so many other dad bloggers, I owe a lot to Oren. My life has been impacted by the man. My heart breaks for his wife and children. They were given a special gift and it was taken away. We all need Orens in our life. Thankfully, I had one. As I read through so many comments and blog posts by other dad bloggers, it is obvious that everyone had a personal connection to him. I am amazed by that. He meant so much to so many. If only all of us could have that kind of impact. What an amazing and better world this would be if we all tried to be more like Oren.
The last message that I received from Oren said, “Thank you.” That was it. A few months ago we messaged back a forth a few times and he ended it with, “Thank you.” I didn’t respond back and we left it at that. I am the one who is thankful. Thankful to have sat next to this great guy at a Mexican restaurant. Thankful to have shared parenting advice with him. Thankful to be included with a great group of men.
Oren Miller is survived by his wife and two children… and over one thousand dad bloggers.
Thank you, Oren.