The Best Dad.

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My precious dad passed away early Monday morning. He adored his wife, kids, and grandkids more than anything else in his fascinating and adventurous life. He always prioritized making memories, imparting wisdom, and causing smiles and giggles.

He had a spectacularly infinite range of talents. He was an expert on antique automobiles and their engines (and wrote two books on how to rebuild them), built antique race cars and crewed or navigated some of the most epic races (including ones across Mexico and a 45 day road rally from Beijing to Paris), drew gorgeous pen and ink drawings that were published in magazines and other forms, wrote short stories, raised bees, built coops for my mom’s chickens, built his own house (including gorgeous woodworking and light fixtures), organized grand events and organizations, and so, so much more.

There are so very many things about who I am that came from my Dad. He taught me to never doubt myself, and to take on any big project that I felt led to do. He imparted to me his renegade spirit – if you have a vision for the way something should work or the kind of group you’d like to be a part of, create it. I have so many more things to say about all that my Dad taught me, and I will share it at a later time.

Dad was given time after his diagnosis, which he used to purposefully make memories with his grandkids – it was so important to him to do special things with them and give them handmade gifts. He was first diagnosed with Ocular Melanoma six years ago, and found out that it had spread two years ago. In these six years, I have watched him take time with each of his five grandchildren, teaching them skills like driving and creating and building, sharing with them wisdom and character traits, and loving them so very well. He found out three weeks ago that he had a very short time left, and that there was nothing else that could be done for his failing liver. The first thing he did when he came home with that news was to ask Ali if she’d play a game of chess with him. As they played, I heard him telling her things that applied to the game, but also to life, like “No, I’m not going easy on you. I always play to win. No matter what you do, you should always play to win.” Dad did beat Ali in that chess game, but he complimented her on her good game.

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On Saturday, Dad knew he had extremely little time left. He asked my mom to call us all to come see him. We all spent Saturday with him, giving him time with each of his grandchildren. From Saturday on, my brothers and I rotated staying with he and my Mom through the agonizing process of dying. My Dad is the strongest, most resilient person I’ve ever known, and it was anguishing to watch him suffer so greatly. But I was glad to be able to be there for him in some small way, because of the 36+ years he’s been there for me in all of the ways. He became very calm in the early a.m. hours of Monday, and I am thankful that when he passed away, he met Jesus peacefully and restfully. My dad has been confident from the beginning of this journey that as much as he wanted to stay with us, meeting Jesus would be beautiful, and I know it was.

God has been so gracious to our family in the past few weeks and has made his love and care known in so many beautiful and individual ways. He has sent obvious and loving messages to us that have been such a comfort – even as we walk through this painful time, He is clearly with us, caring for us, and hurting with us.

We have also had so many friends who have loved us well, helping with our kids and errands and food and every tiny detail of life. I thank you all so much for your help, your love, and your prayers.

There will be an interment at 12:30 on Monday, September 24 at Alabama National Cemetery in Montevallo. A celebration of life service will be held at 2:30 on Monday, September 24 in the worship center at Shades Mountain Community Church, with refreshments and visitation to follow in the fellowship hall.

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Comments

  1. Rachel, I am so very sorry for your loss. I wish I had some wonderful, wise words that would help with what you and your family are going through right now. Allow yourself to grieve, and be gentle with yourself. Grief brain is a real thing and it may take quite a while to feel steady again.
    Praying for you and your family, and thankful that your dad is whole and healed in Heaven.
    Tammy Kelley

  2. I’m so very sorry for the loss of your dad. What a beautiful time of memories you all created in the past few years. Your children will have so many great stories for their own children about their grandfather. Sending you a big virtual hug. I will keep you in my prayers and will be with you in spirit on Monday. <3

  3. I’m so sorry, Rachel! Through your blog, I know that he was a wonderful man, and that he leaves behind many big and little people who will love and miss him unimaginably! My prayers are with your family.

  4. Leanna Thompson says:

    Rachel I am so very sorry for your loss. How wonderful that your children and you will have these precious memories with your dad. Praying for you your family.

  5. So sorry for your loss. Praying for your family.

  6. Thank you for sharing about your dad’s last days. I’m sorry for your loss. That photo of your dad & daughter playing chess is lovely- all of them are. Peace to you in this time of grief.

  7. As soon as I saw the opening lines, I immediately teared up. I’ve always enjoyed your posts about your parents and thought they sound so special. I’m so very sorry for your loss.

  8. I’m so very sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing your family with us through your blog. As I read your words today, I flashed back to another post about the soapbox cars your dad built with your kids. There are no words to lessen the blow of your loss today but I wanted you to know that you and your family are being sent much love and strength from around the world. Hugs..

  9. So very sorry for your loss. Glad for all the memories you have and the example he was to your kids and the rest of the family.

    Sending you all God’s blessings from Ottawa, Canada.

  10. I’m so sorry for your loss, and will continue to pray for you and your family. So grateful that your dad is with Jesus and the comfort that brings. ❤️

  11. Rachel, I’m so sorry for your loss. I always enjoyed reading about your dad’s adventures. He seemed like such a great dad and granddad. I’m thankful for the intentional time everyone got with him over the past few weeks. I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  12. I love the picture of him holding baby Noah with Ali looking at him! So sweet! Still praying for you!

  13. I’m so sorry for your loss. Through your writing, I know your dad to be a special person who loved his family. How wonderful that you and your children will have such special memories of him, I am keeping you and your family in my prayers during this time.

  14. So very sorry for your familys loss. Its one of the hardest things in life to bare losing a parent.
    Donna

  15. Melanie Miller says:

    Rachel, I’m so sorry for your family’s loss. Sending you love and know I’ll be praying for you and your family.

  16. My heart and my prayers go out to you and your family on the passing of your amazing father. I am so sorry to hear this. He seems like a really incredible man, and I’m so glad your children will have such great memories to carry with them.

  17. Jennifer Harder says:

    My heart hurts for your family. I’m praying for comfort for all of you during the time ahead. Hugs!

  18. I’m so sorry for your loss Rachel. Your dad sounds like he was an amazing man. Love and prayers to you and your family!

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