He was tall, strong, and devastatingly handsome.
He sewed delicate—yet masculine—Native American beadwork.
He was an excellent shot.
He had a very sexy truck.
He had a surprisingly large vocabulary, much of it filthy.
The old, the young, and animals loved him—especially female ones.
He could talk to anybody, and often did.
Except during chemo, he kept his hair.
He had an awesome voice, and a life-affirming laugh.
Did I mention he was handsome?
These are some things that I want to say:
I'd catch him sitting in the den, when he didn’t know anyone else was in the house, and he’d be repeating phrases to himself just b/c he liked the sounds of words. It.was.weird.
He was shockingly benevolent. And completely emotional.
He both gave and received gifts with grace. A sentimental card would make him weep.
He was surprised & hurt when any animal would not make friends with him—even a wild animal.
He loved stuffed animals.
One time, he thought he saw Goldie Hawn at the Black Angus salad bar in El Cajon. He wouldn't let it go, even after the rest of us assured him it was unlikely.
When he'd visit me and use my bathroom, he’d leave the toilet seat up. I’d ask him: “What are the chances of getting you to put that seat down?”
And he’d answer: “Slim to none.”
When I’d stay over at Mom & Dad’s, he’d always look so happy to see me in the morning—like I was a revelation just standing in the kitchen with him, while he stood in his underwear drinking his smoothie.
He wanted nearness, companionship, talk, camaraderie, assurance, & appreciation.
One of his most vivid facial expressions was disgust. He was good at disgust.
He bit his nails to the quick, unselfconsciously.
Once, I caught him cleaning his ear with the point of a rusty knife. When I expressed horror at this, he was unflappable.
I said, “Dad, that’s a KNIFE.”
“He said, “Yeah, and it’s MY ear.”
He had a lot of pride, and it was steely.
When I found out that he’d sit by the bedside of dying friends, I was unnerved—because I didn’t think I’d ever be able to do something like that.
I asked him, “What do you do while you sit there?”
And he said, “You just hold their hand.”
I held my dad’s hand for about 6 hours before he died, until I couldn’t do it anymore. I was looking at his hand, and a few times, I saw his index finger move. I felt like he was doing this on purpose.
We played the movie Jeremiah Johnson in the background that night—it was one of his favorites. It’s about a mountain man who avenges the slaughter of his family and kills his enemies one-by-one.
Mom and my sister and the caregiver and I were standing around Dad’s bed, talking about the movie. When I remembered—b/c I’d watched it with him so many times—that the attacking Indians were Crow Indians, I swear that Dad moved his index finger a tiny bit—like he was proud of me for remembering this meaningful fact.
When I had a few minutes alone with him, I told him I’d do him justice. I told him I loved him more than I loved myself. And I told him I’d think about him every day.
I’d like to think that he wasn’t afraid. But I feel like his best quality wasn’t his bravado, but rather: the courage to be vulnerable & tell people that he loved them.