My dad never met a stranger, he was one of those guys that would become best friends with the random person beside him on an airplane and by the time you landed, you have exchanged each other’s life stories.
He was the president of our family business, Rippy Automotive – family owned and operated since 1948. Most days in the office, dad would go around and speak with all 100 of the employees. He didn’t just know the employees names, he knew their spouses and children’s names as well. In the six months I sold cars there, I always observed and admired his general concern with the employees and their families.
Dad had a love for the outdoors, he was a hunter and a fisherman, and he loved to ski. He loved the Tarheels and the UNCW Seahawks. Most of all he loved his family, and he loved the Lord.
My dad had a very special relationship with me and my brother. He was a very involved father. He coached our t-ball teams and was always in the stands for my brothers football games, or my soccer games. We did tons of things together as a family. We traveled a lot and made so many fun memories. I wouldn’t trade those memories for the world.
My dad also built individual relationships with my brother and me. He would take my brother on a trip while my mom would take me on a trip. A few months later, he would take me on a trip while my mom and brother went on a trip. My most memorable trips were to the Asheboro zoo and definitely when we camped and hiked on a portion of the Appalachian trail on my way to summer camp.
My brother and I both talked on the phone with my dad a lot. He loved to just chat. On the way home from work, he would call me, or I would call him. James and my dad would always call each other during UNC football and basketball games. Both of us thought of him as our best friend. As I got older, and entered the professional world, I often looked to him for advice and I always trusted his advice. He was the first person I would go to in any business situation.
The first Fathers’ Day without dad was hard on me and my brother. I remember specifically buying a Fathers’ Day card for dad that year. I wrote him a long note and visited the garden where some of his ashes are scattered. While I was there, I sat in silence, thinking about all of the wonderful memories I had with my dad.
Honestly, I totally didn’t realize Fathers’ Day was coming this year. Since my dad passed, I have had very few thoughts of anger. When I got married, when I got laid off, and when I began to plan my family and thought of my children never meeting their grandpa were the only times I experienced anger. But, I am a glass half full kind of person, so I try to focus on the amazing times I did have with my dad. I remember the good times, and try to forgive the bad times. I will never forget the amazing man I call daddy, and will be forever grateful for the 25 years of my life I had with him.
You can be the victim, or the victor. By remembering my dad, I hope to save lives and to bring hope to those affect by suicide, just like AFSP’s mission says. My involvement with AFSP has helped me to remember my dad, and honor his memory.
“Thinking back about Fred makes you smile. He is probably one of the nicest people I have ever known. There are some people that have been part of our lives that leave an impact on us. Fred is one of those people. He was such a good guy and was so gracious and kind to children and others around him.” (Excerpt from Dad’s memorial page)
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