Godspeed, Dad

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One of my fondest memories, sifting through the dusty files that occupy my cranial attic, is of my dad coming home from work on second shift, pulling me out of bed, and sitting me on his lap to watch Boris Karloff in Frankenstein. I was maybe 4 or 5. By the time the windmill was on fire, I was cowering behind his chair, eyes glued on the screen, unsure if I should feel sympathy for the monster or cheer at its destruction..

My dad passed away in the final minutes of Friday, the 20th of July, after a long battle with cancer. He was 71 years old.

When we lose loved ones, we tend to oversell them, attaching adjectives like “great” and “special” to them, by ascribing qualities to them that often times simply don’t reflect the person they really were, but some ideal that you want to project out into the world.

My father was far from perfect, but I loved him dearly. He was hard-headed, opinionated, and a know-it-all. And dang it, that was part of his charm. He was an over-grown kid in all the best ways. He was a jovial guy, always quick with a quip or a joke, and ones that were more often than not completely inappropriate. Dad didn’t have a “political correct” bone in his body.

His favorite president was Richard Nixon.

Dad instilled in me a love for horror and science fiction movies. He bought me comic books and UFO magazines. He taught me how to ride a horse, shoot a gun and bow, how to build a fire, set up a tent, and sharpen a knife. He told me my first ghost stories. He taught me how to swing a bat, get into a three point stance, throw a shot put, and ride a bike.

He loved my mom more than anything in the world.

We went on lots of trips, often with a gaggle of my older cousins in tow: Santa Claus Land, King’s Island, Cedar Point, Disney World, Mackinaw Island, the Piatt Castles, Merrimack Caverns, and State Parks all over Indiana. And lots of trips to Arkansas.

How do you write about a man that was such a huge influence on your life, for so long? How do you capture it all?

You can’t. It’s a surreal flood of memories all slamming into one another. Riding around town with him on his golf cart, buying him cigarettes at the local grocery, hunting deer with him “Indian-style” and getting attacked by a wild turkey, him teaching me how to drive a stick in Wabash, learning how to swim by him throwing me out into deep water, watching Blue Bloods while holding his hand.

There’s an old saying that you don’t become a man until the death of your father.

I don’t think I was ready to become a man quite yet.

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2 Responses to “Godspeed, Dad”

  1. Kay Mobley Says:

    Beautiful tribute to your dad. Wish I had words to help you get through this enormous loss, but I know from losing Mom, nothing helps. Hold tight to your family and your memories 😢

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