Sitting on the floor in my parents’ almost empty home, I look through the black and white Polaroids of my childhood, mostly, with my Father, memories flow through my mind as if it was only yesterday. I lost my Dad this summer, an occurrence that I never believed would ever happen to me. He was my rock, the Salt of the Earth, a patriot of the United States, and my mentor in more ways than I ever knew until he was gone.

When I dialed their phone at their home in Illinois one day after his passing, I stopped midway through the dialing as I realized that he was not there to run by a new idea or get his opinion on issues and what would I do without his guidance, opinions, and advice? So, I sat quietly wondering what he would do in my shoes. I knew he would not let it hold him back to find his own guidance, opinions, and advice, and he would find someone to pass on what he knew and had learned to ensure the learning and experiences continued, not stopped. I decided at that moment, I would be my Dad’s daughter, and begin my role in the next generation of our family to mentor others with my wisdom, knowledge, and leadership along with my adult children, as I was taught to always ask why, explore, and use it as an adventure. There was never a stupid question in his eyes, and he taught me by his suggestions that I could lead to better outcomes in my life.

There were times during my days under his mentoring I would go my own direction, and yet, he would tell me, “Julie, there are two ways to live your life: the easy way and the hard way, and you, Julie, choose the hard way every time.” I replied that I learned more through the difficult paths than the easy ones, and he would smile and say okay. He taught me to believe in myself, be committed to building my character in my personal and professional lives, but I also learned that I could help others as he did for me, help them become fuller versions of themselves.

Mentoring is not always telling someone how to do something, sometimes it is the importance of those questions, which I was told I was the queen of questions as a young child, as it will enable whom you are mentoring to see their own big picture which is an element of personal growth. I also realized that day when I dialed my Father, I, was the best place to look for a mentor, within myself first. I could guide not only my adult children, the team at my hotel, or my loved ones, to always pass on what we learn and it will navigate us to the answer, to help them see farther, challenge them, and help them to grow to become mentors to others. There is nothing more than I want to help others embrace wholeness, compassion, and truth, my wise Father has given to me. As I navigate my new normal, I plan to use the life lessons, chats, and talks along with many debates with my Father to move on, find happiness, and spread my love of life and knowledge to all who would like to share it with me. I always know the depth of our talks including about his death, I was able to be frank and open with him always. These conversations changed the way I look at the world. I find myself wanting to share my life’s experiences with the hope of helping others recognize their best self in this big world of ours.

My appreciation of the simple moments of life will keep him by my side throughout my life. Even though it has been the darkest time in my life, I will survive and honor his life, helping others the way he helped me grow into the woman and person I am today.

As I look at these pictures and see my childhood in the photos in front of me and letters that I wrote to him, I realize I am learning how to accept his loss and remember that he lives on through me. I am grateful that I have the memory of his smile when I did choose the hard way. Dad, I will pass on your love of our Country and won’t forget to stop and smell the roses of life.

About our Guest Writer
Julie Youle-Lenoch
Hilton Garden Inn Salt Lake City Downtown

Julie Youle-Lenoch grew up in the western suburbs of Chicago and attended the University of Iowa pursuing a career in Journalism and Political Science. After an opportunity in the hospitality industry opened up, she left her journalism career to pursue her 30 years in the hospitality world of Chicago. When her children went their own directions she took her own turn down a new path in hospitality in Taos, New Mexico, highlighting group sales and weddings at El Monte Sagrado. In April of 2015, she pursued new career options in Salt Lake City beginning at an airport location property, and in March of 2018, she became the Director of Sales for the Hilton Garden Inn Salt Lake City Downtown where she is in charge of sales, groups, corporate business and the continued success of the property which is the 5th year in a row winner of the Conrad Achievement Award. In her spare time, she enjoys hiking, cooking, and travel with her partner, Drew and she has two children Rachel and Justin.