It is with great sadness that we say goodbye to an amazing man.
I don’t have the words right now to talk about how much he will be missed. But, I am so very thankful that I was able to communicate to him through this blog many times just how I felt about him. Kylie and I read an edited version of a post I wrote to him on Fathers Day and it is below. The service was just as perfect as it could be, complete with heartfelt remembrances, a piper, a slideshow of photos of his life and a playlist of his favorite music.
Each night at dinner Harrison has raised his glass and made a toast to him – some of my favorites:
“To Grandpa. Thank you for being my friend.”
“To Grandpa. Thank you for reading to me.”
“To Grandpa. Thank you for being a great grandpa.”
“To Grandpa. Thank you for being my daddy’s friend.”
A TRIBUTE TO MY DAD
by Aimee Blase
This is a shortened version of a tribute I wrote to my dad on Father’s Day of this year and published on our family blog. He asked that I read it at his service.
What a man my dad is. An old-school boot-straps man. A no-nonsense, no-silliness kind of man who raised two of the silliest daughters on earth. Two of the shriekingest little girls you could ever imagine. A man who must have stored away any irritation of said silliness deep down inside because I never once heard him raise his voice to tell us to SHUT-UUUUUP! But, then, he never would have used that word. Because in his calm, quiet way he didn’t have to. We respected him absolutely and still do. A look from that man and you know it’s time to chill.
My dad has been my teacher, my mentor, my coach and my sister’s and my creator of magic.
Part of the backyard of our San Ramon house was dad’s vegetable garden. Kylie and I would run, walk and bike through the cement paths that dad made (not for us, but, to make caring for his vegetables easier) little did he know how many adventures those paths took us on. We would often play that we were orphans running away from an evil caretaker and we would fill our pockets with sugar snap peas for the long journey ahead. I, as the older sister, would dole out sustenance as needed. The peas grew tall to form massive walls and the fragrance of the tomatoes and squashes was intoxicating – to this day fresh tomatoes sitting in the sun will transport me back to that place. That magic place. Closer to the house was the terraced walls up to the back fence. Lovely big boulders with the most amazing tiny flowers and mossy ground cover winding in and out. There was no more perfect place for Strawberry Shortcake and gang to live. He created a world of magic for us. I’m not sure that was his goal or that he actively bought plants that appeared to our tiny eyes as the foliage of fairy tale lands, but, that’s what he did.
Dad as Teacher. Of course there was help with homework – I mean, the man is a MENSA Member (read: “NERD”) But, what I really remember, is my dad teaching me to draw. It was pretty standard figure-drawing type stuff which lead to a few mediocre landscapes done while on family vacations. But, it was very special time between us. He also guided me into graphic design. He took a youthful notion of “sure, it might be fun to design stuff for a living” and took me to a design show at the Contemporary Art Museum, took me to a graphic design firm’s studio for a tour, bought me books and helped me create a portfolio out of thin air to attempt entrance into Cal Poly’s design program – a program that I didn’t make, thankfully. Because as we all know, Fresno — really, the hub of high-minded design — was waiting for me. While dad always was and is a quiet man of few words I always knew how proud he was of me. And I always wanted and still want to do better… be better — for him.
Dad as coach. Another amazing thing my dad and I did together was softball. After overcoming a rocky first year with my first team — “Bill’s Bunch” he became a very successful head coach — taking many of our teams to the playoffs — and as my greatly under appreciated pitching coach. It’s been forever since I played competitive softball but, I can still feel the nervous excitement and the feeling of being at home on the pitcher’s mound with my dad looking on from the dugout. I had some speed but, couldn’t ever really tame my arm which lead to a lot of strikeouts as well as walks. Dad was my rock through the walks, injuries and losses, but, also through the championship-wins and strikeouts. He never got angry or stressed – or if he did, he certainly didn’t show us kids. And, now, that I am playing a competitive sport as an adult I realize how much time and effort he gave to us. I realize the countless, thankless hours he put in helping me practice. Those years didn’t just improve my ability to throw a ball at a target, those years made me learn about myself – about how strong I actually am, about overcoming, about leadership, about humility and about striving to better myself.
Dad as mentor. I have always been a bit – OK a lot – spontaneous. And for a man as careful as my dad, I imagine letting me find my own way must have been challenging. Upon hearing that rather than heading to San Francisco to pursue a sensible job in advertising I was going to Truckee to be a waitress and snow boarder, I imagine my dad’s heart must have broken more than a little. But, he bit his tongue and allowed me the freedom to make my own mistakes. Luckily in the end all that craziness turned into a pretty amazing life. And while I talk about dad as this buttoned-down, serious, smarty pants – there is actually a bit of that same risk-taker in him. He is an entrepreneur – has started many businesses and figured it out on his own. It takes a brave and kind of crazy person to take a risk like that. He is a dreamer – born in the city, he always wanted a piece of land away from it all, so, with $5,000 between he and his sister, they purchased an acre of land in the podunk town of Truckee and built a house on it. My dad taught me in roundabout ways how to trust yourself and how to create an amazing life. Even though we seem different, in many ways I have been following in my dads footsteps for most of my life.
My dad, along with my incredible mom of course, built a remarkable family. My dad, without having a really great model of what a father should be, is all that I could have ever asked for. I am so incredibly lucky for this life. And I wish for Harrison that I am able to give the same kind of patient wisdom, gentle nudges toward greatness and constant love that I got from my dad.
I love you so very much dad.
Thank you for everything.
Listening: Jimmie Rodgers