June 22, 2017 12:41 PM
An hour into the summer solstice, my father detached from his well worn and beat-up body, hovered over it a few minutes, then took that wonderful tunnel ride into the Light.
Right this minute, as you read this, I’m certain that he’s hanging out in the Soul Realm, telling a rapt audience of old high-school buddies about all the adventures he had here in this silly, manifest world.
Two things Dad loved to do: Throw himself into the good fight… and share those tales of adventure with whomever happened to be around.
Dad—Tiny to everyone else—could best be described as a cross between John Wayne and Blackbeard the Pirate. He was loud, tough, and larger than life. He loved a good fight—loved the competition of physical conflict—yet he didn’t have a mean bone in his body. It wouldn’t surprise me if the ad exec behind Dos Equis’ “The Most Interesting Man In The World” campaign had gone diving with Dad and been inspired by his stories.
He’d been a football player, a fighter pilot in the Air Force, a blackbelt in jujitsu, a treasure hunter, a diving instructor, a dive shop owner, a boat captain, and an adventurer. He’d broken his nose so many times he could hardly breathe out of it. The only person on this planet who could tell him what to do was Mom. He was tough, strong, and direct, yet he was also gregarious and warm and kind-hearted. Everybody knew Tiny… and everyone loved him.
I never knew Dad to be afraid. I don’t even know that he ever felt fear. I once saw him face down an angry man pointing a loaded speargun at him. I was scared to death, but just his mere presence convinced the guy to hand it over (it was illegal to spearfish on the reefs in that part of the Florida Keys). Six feet five and 300 lbs., Dad was naturally confident and sure of himself. His confidence radiated off his body like the Northern Lights on fire. As far as I know, Dad never even knew what the word doubt meant.
He was the personification of Yang. He may not have known what the word meant, but he lived it. All male. All direct. All straight-forward, can-do, will-do, either-get-out-of-my-way-or-get-bowled-over Yang.
But he was a friendly guy. A gregarious guy. A smart, bring-your-problem-to-Tiny-and-he’d-help-you-solve-it kind of guy. A guy you wanted as your friend. Everybody who knew Tiny, loved Tiny.
Probably the greatest mistake of his life was beating cancer. If he’d had known how removing half of one of his lungs would sap him of his élan vital—his life force, his energy—I doubt he’d have done it. His life might have been about a decade shorter, but he’d have lived it as he did everything else: authentically. He would have lived it that no-BS direct way which was so uniquely his way. Tiny’s way.
Dad “died” in his sleep June 21, 2017. He was the greatest man I’ve ever known.
He’ll be back though. I’m sure of it. Ten years from now he’ll be playing football with his school chums and fighting that good fight for a good cause. You simply can’t keep a guy like Dad down.
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