This past Saturday, 1/19/13, we celebrated the life of my dad.
It was truly an amazing service. There were a thousand faces that came to say goodbye to him at his wake, and then a packed church on Saturday. What an incredible guy! I had said Dad always knew someone everywhere he went, but I was wrong. Dad had a FRIEND everywhere he went.
I know there will be a lot of moments that will arise this month, year and throughout my life that will allow me to reflect on my dad. On how much I miss him, or how wise and loyal he was, or on how much he loved his family, my kids, my brother, my husband and me, and especially my mom.
But at this moment, I am struck with such awe and admiration for the type of friend my dad was to so many.
I’ll never forget that night in the hospital where we had learned the earthly fight for my dad was over and it was time to let him go. One by one, people who had come to the hospital like they’d done since his accident, were rocked to learn the news. When Mike, one of dad’s dear friends saw me and hugged me, he grabbed my shoulders, looked me in the eyes and said, “Your dad was an incredible friend!”
Whether as dad or coach, I thought I knew all there was to know about my dad. I got to witness and feel his dedication and pride in his family on a daily basis. I even got to be with him for 5 years on the track team, seeing him in his profession in the midst of his passion for teaching and coaching. But through it all, that was still just a piece of him- a large piece, but still just a piece.
Dad loved to golf. He even recently bragged that he’d golfed for 22 straight months (in Iowa!). Dad was always on the golf course. It was just the way it was growing up. If my brother and I couldn’t find him when we awoke, we knew exactly where he was. I can honestly say, I never understood it. Golf bores me, I don’t get it, and I surely don’t have the patience to learn how to do it for myself. But I really don’t think it was so much the game of golf that brought my dad to the course day after day, year after year. Rather, it was the people my dad got to play the game with!
Even more, dad’s athletes were his friends. He’d call, visit, golf, tailgate, and even work with them, years sometimes decades after they wore the Cardinal and Gold for him on the track. I know he cherished their friendship, more than their accolades!
Perhaps his best friends were his brother, my Uncle Tom, and Scotty, my brother. He always said the two of them were so much alike. Creative and imaginative, always coming up with new and inventive ideas. Dad was so proud of them, he even had special ringtones just for them. Not just his brother, or his son, but they were Dad’s FRIENDS.
One of the most powerful moments for me, was to see dad escorted out of the church and lifted by all his friends- friends from so many parts of his life. My whole life, dad was the one who lifted me and carried me. He was my dad and that was his job. But these were his friends. Grown men who loved my dad. I realized at that moment, that dad really was an incredible Man of God; a brother. A friend.
I will never again underestimate that word, Friend, as Dad has completely redefined it for me.
A friend makes an effort without making it obvious. A friend will hold you accountable. A friend will acknowledge your accomplishments before his own. A friend will never try to be someone he is not, or make you into someone you are not. A friend is selfless, reliable, and loyal. A friend will be there for you no matter the circumstance, the hour, or the sacrifice. That is who my dad was, an Unbelievable Friend.
If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames,but have not love, I gain nothing.
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. I Corinthians 13: 1-7
No wonder there were thousands who came to celebrate Dad, because Dad truly LOVED so many. I am so proud of him, and will forever miss my Friend!
10 thoughts on “An Unbelievable Friend”
Erica, your dad’s service was exactly that, A Celebration of Life. What a wonderful service it was! The music was beautiful and the speakers were just great. I am so sorry for your loss, but what an inspiration your dad was! You have so many wonderful memories. Keep them close to you in the near future when you will need them. I lost my father several years ago and his memories have kept him so close to me always.
Your posts continue to amaze me. Your strength and conviction are very much like his. Your dad was an incredible man and I was blessed to call him a friend for over 45 years.
Erica, this post made my eyes water up. What a gift you have for capturing the majesty of an honorable man, your father. And in this post, you give us all something to aspire to – that we too may be that kind of friend.
Simply beautiful, Erica. YOU are an unbelievable friend. Love you always, Jum
To the family of Steve Lynn. I am so sorry for your loss and for the community’s loss. I met Steve through the Senior Olympics and in the short time I knew him I can tell you that he was a great man with a huge heart. He made a special effort to allow me to use the WDM shot-put and discus just so I could practice for the event. He put forth his whole heart in the Iowa Senior Olympics and I don’t think I have ever seen anyone work as hard as he did to make it a success. He will be missed by many!
May God’s love help you find peace during your time of mourning.
Julie Thrasher, Des Moines
I am so sorry to learn of your dad’s passing, but very happy for him as well! He was an incredible man, coach, and teacher. I first met your dad while at ISU in 1983 taking the Fund. of Coaching Track class at the State Gym. He was so knowledgeable and helpful and an inspiration to me. His inspiration and my respect for him got me in coaching track that year and I have been coaching track every year since, currently the Head Girls Track Coach at Indianola. I have also gotten to know him better over the past 3 years through participating in the Iowa Senior Olympics. I last talked to your father at the ISU/Championship Video Track and Field Clinic at Ames the first weekend in Dec. and as always he was wondering how I thought our team would be this spring and knew what are teams strengths were and it was a powerful conversation I will treasure forever.
God Bless you and all the family! You are in my thoughts and prayers.
Coach Rick VanScoy
Erica, This most eloquent expression of love for your dad, your friend, brought tears once again. God is really using your reflections on your Dad’s life to impact us all in such a positive and purposeful way. He always invested in what really matters and I know it inspires me and so many others to try to do the same each and every day. I love you and will continue to pray for and be there for you and your family, Trish
Very sorry to hear about your dad, but pleased (not surprised) to see the outpouring of of admiration from the many people he touched in his lifetime. I had the pleasure of being the first ISU athlete your dad coached.. he was my events coach when he started as a graduate assistant in the 70’s. Like many others I can attest to the lasting positive influence he provided. My dad passed away when I was a child, and in many ways your dad was a positive role model and mentor that I very much needed at that time. I will always be greatful. Bob Brcka