I won’t pretend this was an easy column for me to write, but I know he would be so proud I wrote it for him.
Dad died early morning on Friday, Nov. 15, 2013. A fire broke out at the house he and my mom lived in at the time.
Mom, who is a school bus driver, was at work when the fire happened. I was preparing to go to the airport to go to Nashville, Tennessee. I had just made a waffle at the hotel when I noticed I had three “missed calls” from my brother, Dalton. In my heart I knew it was bad even before I called him back.
When I called him back he said the words I’ll never forget: “There was a fire at Mom’s house and Dad’s gone.” Mom also lost her dog, Twister, and cat, Jersey, in the fire.
In that moment, the world crumbled. My mom’s world crumbled. My family’s world crumbled.
Myself, along with my brother, Dalton, gave the eulogy at my dad’s funeral. In honor of him — I’d like to share it with you all because, even in my raw grief of nearly a year ago, these words still say it best.
I had the privilege of calling this man we are honoring today, Dad.
He was the dad he didn’t have to be to us. I rarely refer to him as my stepdad — because he never once put the word “step” in front of my brother and mine’s name. We were always introduced as his children. Never once did I ever feel like a stepchild.
Dad was a simple man — he loved and he loved deeply. He loved my mom with every fiber of his being. She was his world. He loved his dog, Twister — who we lost in the fire as well. We also lost their cat, Jersey in the fire. They are all somewhere — together.
Looking back I have so many wonderful memories of Dad. He helped me work on my Pontiac Sunbird — he wanted to make sure the speedometer was correct. So he drove beside me in his car on Kellogg (in Wichita) and he held up one finger for 40 mph and two for 60.
It probably was quite the sight. But that’s the kind of man he was.
Then there was the time I scored two tickets to a monster truck show. We spent the evening cheering on our favorite monster trucks. He loved hanging out with us kids — no matter what it was we were doing. Again, that’s just the kind of man he was.
Looking back at family pictures, dad was frequently in them. My school graduations. Holidays. Birthdays. Life won’t ever be the same without him.
Dad knew no stranger. He would spend hours talking to people and telling stories of his life. He truly loved everyone and could bring a smile to anyone’s face. He was funny. Witty. Dedicated. And loyal. A truly amazing person.
I will miss his humor. I will miss him — the world lost a kind, amazing person. His life had a profound effect on mine — and on many others, I’m certain.
May he rest in peace and run with his beloved dogs Twister and Flower. I’m certain he’s looking down while idly chatting someone’s ear off — telling them stories of his past and his family.
He wouldn’t want us to be sad. Or mourn him. But how can we not?
He will be missed deeply and dearly.