Shan says that she always knows when her Dad was on the phone because my voice would suddenly get deeper when I was talking to him. I guess I wanted him to know that she was taken care of in that way. I think he felt like I was putting it on for him just like when we were building stuff and I would measure once and cut twice…sometimes three times!
It didn’t take long for JD to make me feel like a part of his family. It started long before Shannon and I were even dating. Well before any of that, he was “Mike’s Dad” and revered among our group of friends like a God of Thunder, or maybe it was that he was revered at the Thunderbird, I can’t recall…but… “anyhoo” as he would always say.
Back in those days he provided for our group in many ways. He coached us in roller hockey, he provided a safe place for us to gather where we always felt welcome and safe, where bathing suits were optional in the hot tub, and in turn he helped us foster the friendships I hold most dear in my life to this day. Mike’s friends came over because of the welcoming home JD provided, and they stayed for the bacon and eggs at breakfast.
JD was a master sleeper and my admiration for him magnified one day when Mike and I came home for lunch. I thought we were home alone until JD came out of his bedroom, yawning and stretching out in his office clothes (likely from Mens Furnishings at the Bay where he once worked). Told us he was just home for his lunchtime “toes up”, like that was a thing! At the lake we would chat after dinner until JD would nod off in mid sentence and just for sport Shan and the boys would compete to see what kind of things they could dangle from his mouth without waking him up.
JD was a giver. He was true and loyal, and would do anything for his friends. He joked with me that he wouldn’t let himself pass in the summer months or his Royal Lake Gang might not make it in.
JD would do anything for his kids. Mike wrecked the truck, Shan wrecked the truck, and Tim…well he still wears sandals all winter.
He would go so far in fact that this one Christmas, Shannon was away from home all the way in Thailand. JD had asked her in an email what he would like for Christmas and she said “Tom”. He had me over for dinner that week and asked me if I would go. That he would send me there on his dime because that’s what Shannon wanted most for Christmas, and that he wanted to do this for us. Not knowing how I would ever be able to pay him back I joked about having to cut his lawn for the rest of my life…to which he replied without missing a beat…
“I like mine at a 45 degree angle.”
We watched almost every single playoff game together this year and when the Jets were out we watched Ovi raise the Cup for the first time. On October 9th, just a couple weeks ago, we watched what would be our last Jet game together at Jocelyn House. At one point he took my hand and told me that I was everything he could have asked for, for his daughter. I told him that Shan and I fell in love in Thailand and that I didn’t know how I could ever repay him for the life that he helped set in motion. Especially since he had gone so many years without a lawn to cut. He said that he always knew that one day he would need me to take care of his most “special” possession, and I intend to do just that.
It would be cliche to say that JD had a great life and it’s too soon for him to be gone. But I do admire his thirst for living. I don’t know much about heaven but if there is a lake there JD has already set up the tarps and should be out in the boat by now looking for someplace calm to float on his pool noodle.
He did what made him happiest and brought much happiness to those around him. I am so blessed that Lexi and Ashlyn got to have so many great memories of a man who wore his heart on his sleeve and loved his family to the fullest.
Here’s to breakfast JD!