On April 30th, 2023 at around 3:20 PM CST, my father passed away at the age of 71. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone. He was there when I took my first breath, and I was there with him when he took his last. My dad was an incredible man who held many names – Daddy, Dad, Papa, Grandpa, JP, and Mountain Man. He was far from the typical dad.
My dad raised my brother and me as a single father starting at just 25 years old in rural Alabama. He worked in construction and built things with his hands. He was an amazing artist and loved working with plants, although he never called it horticulture. During his Celebration of Life, I was surprised to hear so many people share stories about him that I’d never heard before. He was a good man who believed strongly in Jesus, and he showed his faith through his actions.
In the past few months, I’ve been collecting vinyl records, mostly rock from the 60s and 70s. My first purchase was a first-pressing of Jimi Hendrix’s “Are You Experienced?” – one of my dad’s favorites. We talked about records, and he mentioned a Rolling Stones album he’d been looking for and a group called Ultimate Spinach that he enjoyed as a teenager. I was thrilled to be able to find all of those records and many more he would enjoy (Pink Floyd, Black Sabbath etc..). I had planned to surprise him with a record player once he was released from the hospital, but sadly, he never made it home.
Every night, I listen to these records and imagine my dad as a younger man jamming out to psychedelic rock and discovering a new genre of music. He was the coolest dad I could have asked for.
At his Celebration of Life, so many people shared stories about Daddy that I’d never heard before. The stories covered a wide range of topics, but they all shared one thing in common – my dad never judged people based on their life decisions. He always offered a safe space and would literally give someone the clothes off his back. He didn’t value material possessions, and that’s how he wanted to live his life. He embodied the song “Simple Man.”
I’ll continue to add to this post over time. It’s hard to believe that he’s gone. When he passed, my family and I were there with him, surrounded by loved ones. His final words were “I love y’all,” and I’ll never forget them.
2 thoughts on “The Toughest and Saddest Day of My Life”
Alex your Dad shared the joy of music – what a beautiful gift that lives on
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Thank you Beth! Yes, even now he is helping me discover new things.