Remembering my father at the Western Wall

Jerusalem - Goosebumps were spreading up my arm long before I got to the famed cold bricks of the Western Wall.

Gov. Nathan Deal and the rest of the Georgia delegation on Sunday visited the Jerusalem site, Judaism's holiest place. And as I cradled the stones I couldn't help but flash back to my last international trip with the governor.

It was a brief journey in September to tour the Panama Canal to prepare for Savannah's port deepening. Just before the plane took off, my stepmother called to tell me that my dad's declining health had taken another turn for the worse. She told me to go ahead with the trip but to come see him the moment I returned.

The day I got back, I brought my daughter to see him, and over the next few days we said our goodbyes. He passed a week later.

At the Western Wall today, memories of my father came rushing back as I chanted a mourning prayer called the Kaddish. I thought of his tremendous drive, his acerbic wit and the mantra he repeated to his children all his life: "The world has no use for a man with an excuse."

Most of all, I thought about how much he struggled with his long illness in those final years.

It's tradition for visitors to the Western Wall to scrawl notes with their hopes and dreams and stuff them into crevices between the ancient stones. My note today, though, was a note of gratitude.

"I'm glad my dad is finally at peace," I wrote.

Waiting for me back in Atlanta when I return in a few days is someone who will never meet my father.

Our second daughter was born a few weeks after dad died. People say she has his eyes, his cheeks, his smile.

Her name is Brooke. She's named in his honor.