My Dad was cool. I was so proud of him. He was a big guy with black hair and dark eyes and lovely tan Navajo skin and I think lots of people were intimidated by him. He was sometimes quiet in groups, but he could sure have corn-on-the-cob eating contests with friends Greg Koehn and Lance Johnson, or “Chubby Bunny” marshmallow contests with cousins Jerry Ensz and Dawn Nikkel. He had a big heart for his friends and would check in on people if he felt a nudge to. Usually when he talked, people listened. I loved how he stood up for what was right and that through his struggles he never doubted that this was the right Church. He was analytical, smart, and could physically outwork anyone I know. He would come home at the end of a 16 hour day of walking through cornfields in 100* Kansas heat and we would eat burgers and then he’d relax for awhile on the living room floor while we all sat around with him and Mom. He’d always let our dog, Spencer, inside in the evenings and he would just lay there with Dad. Sometimes we would take Herbie our hedgehog out and he and Dad would play tug-of-war with a sock.
I spent lots of my teens being rebellious and shallow, and unfortunately some of you reading this will remember those years. Before I could wear a new pair of Sunday shoes I’d have to have them proofed by Dad and that was the worst. Invariably they were too high. Now, I am so thankful for his and Moms direction. It seemed like I was grounded a lot of my youth for various infractions, and he was famous for telling me, “You know what I think about it but you do what you think.” Then I’d be forced to deal with the guilt of knowing I was going against his opinion, and it wouldn’t end well. I had a terrible car accident when I was 16, and Dad was the first one to me, always calm and cool. That night he was up by the couch all night checking on me, and I remember feeling totally safe. I was so proud of him for helping people and being an EMT. When we were little we would lay on folks’ bed in the old pink Gaye Moore house, and Dad would be out on a call and we would listen to the scanner to see if we could figure out who it was at the scene with him. When he was doing his EMT training, he would practice his blood draws on us kids and we would just beg for him to use needles on us. I was always competing with him to see who was darker, always him obviously, or we would wrestle in the kitchen. One of my favorite things to do with Dad was watch storms rolling in from the southwest there in Kansas. He would put up his lawn chair and take his peach iced tea and sit out by the garage and we’d watch the rain and lightning coming. I was never scared of storms while Dad was around. For my 18th birthday, our family went to Pueblo, Colorado. Dad loved skydiving and I had always wanted to since he did, so Dad took me skydiving over the Royal Gorge for my birthday. And Dad loved being in the kitchen. When folks and Mark&Rhoda would do meal ticket suppers together, he was in his zone, entertaining and serving food. His bbq ribs were delicious , as many of you know:) One evening I had a Valentines supper for the youth girls at Copeland, and Dad went and bought a bow-tie and wore a white shirt and waited on us for the evening. Our friends were equally in awe and scared of him, probably because he had no qualms about treating them like his own kids. He loved harassing them and loved when they gave it back. He and Jessica Jo would go in circles and he loved it.
There was aways fishing. It was Dad’s therapy. While I taught school I missed some of the good fishing trips to Colorado, so I mostly remember the ones to Lake Michigan. He loved Frankfort so we spent a good amount of time camping there. We would sleep in the vehicle, all but Dad, who would be out at the end of the pier under the lighthouse, fishing all night. Someone would occasionally awake and make the long walk out to fish with him, but that usually didn’t last long. Once, we all slept on the beach, a summer evening under the moon listening to the waves a few feet away, praying we wouldn’t get kicked off. Dad hit it off with Brian Murphy and that became his next obsession, charter fishing out on the lake with Brian. He lived for those days.
My Dad. I miss buying him Father’s Day cards and getting hugs from him. His hugs were the best. I miss how he would say “love you Sis” and knowing that if somebody wronged me, he always had my back. I miss seeing him in his suit on Sundays. I miss that he’s not there to call for advice. I miss my Dad. People say 9 years is enough time to get over someone. It’s not. I still think of him most days and wonder what he would think of us now. He’s part of us, and our life, and our memories. I cried more tonight missing him than I have for the last couple years. Please tell your Dads (and families) that you love them.