Yesterday was the memorial, and I am sitting here pretending that I am going to get back to normal by working. Instead, I am staring at a computer and shoveling leftover funeral food in my face. It’s delicious and sad.
People came from all over and streamed in live to remember Dad. I tried to honor him, not just his service, but the man he is… was. I wanted to say the words, but I was overwhelmed. I lost the paper I wrote with the things I wanted to say. Instead, I rambled. The things I wanted to bring were his paintings and drawings, the things he cherished, and worked hard for.
I wanted to tell stories about him. Stories of his adventures and the fun we had together running around taking pictures, drinking coffee and listening to his stories and jokes on repeat. I likened him to the character Mr. Edwards from the tv show Little House on the Prairie. Dad and I pal’d around so many places, and that was a gift. He gave me so much both in adventure and love. He and I were also best friends. I will miss him forever.
Dad was an artist of more than 60 years, he will be remembered not only for his fun and whimsical approach to life but by his beautiful paintings, drawings, pastels, and photography. He was a proud veteran of the USMC and the Army. His stories of his time in service were adventurous in Germany and England and as expected many shenanigans.
His love for his family was apparent in the hundreds of photographs he surrounded himself with in his apartment of everyone: friends, family and especially his children, grandchildren, and a great-grandchild. Amongst those pictures included the many adventures with his family and friends across the nation, desserts, mountains, and the coast.
Growing up, to our generation, he was Uncle Dave. The newest generation know him as Uncle Bubba. I have memories throughout my life at the Caldwell house watching him driving down the long service road to our little house in the country. We knew we were in for excitement. He laughed loudly as he spoke of his travels. As a child, we thought surely, they were just made up but as we got older, we learned the slightly less embellished version of them from the other adults in the family. Dad was a bit of a gypsy he traveled a lot living in places from Michigan to California, and Nevada. He traveled everywhere across the country a few times with friends with his metal detector and camera documenting his trip.
The letter I wanted to read started with a special joke that Dad told me often that was one of my favorites.
I’m writing this letter really slow because I know you can’t read very fast. 🙂
There was one particular day at Mearles where you said “Order anything you want kid. Ketchup packets and water is on me!” As I sat drinking a soda at Mearles with you sometime around my 16th birthday you said to me “I love you kid, and I have to tell you something. I’m your dad I couldn’t tell you that before but now I am!” You were crying, and I was confused but having a fun and sober dad felt refreshing. I know that you and Ray were buddies and you had a lot of history together and I love how you always made me feel safe but never made me feel bad about still calling him dad. I know he loved me, and you reminded me of that, an example of how kind you are.
It’s funny how you were always there for me you even held my hand at his funeral a couple of years earlier even though I didn’t know the total truth about my fathers. I will miss you forever.
I remember how you always told me you loved me, and how proud you were in everything I did. When I joined the Marine Corp you were both scared and proud. After my service, when I came home you called me Sarge, I will miss that forever. I will miss your stories, jokes, and silly songs. Because of you, I am an artist, a photographer, a proud veteran, and someone who embraces adventure. Because of you, I’m not afraid to just be me in public no matter how weird that may come across. The influence you had in my life is stamped deeply in my DNA. I will miss you forever.
The world feels black and white without you right now. You made me feel safe, which was difficult in my life especially when I was young. The loneliness I feel is deep. But I know that you would want all of us to color this world again because you loved us so much.
I love you forever Daddy