Early Wednesday morning...
We lost my dad.
There really aren't enough words to describe the feeling I personally feel, and I am not going to go into detail as to the events leading up to the moment that a hospital staff member walked into that tiny little, windowless room to inform me that he'd finally let go.
This blog post is a tribute to one of my best friends, one of my biggest fans and supporters, the Reverend Donald E. Worden, otherwise known as the Geriatric Hippie in the blog that birthed this one.
Dad was born March 2, 1955 to Donald Ross and Helen Mae... He became the older brother to three, Mark, Phillip, and Timothy Worden. Grandpa was a hard man as far as his sons went, but he did teach dad that you do everything that you can in order to help your loved ones out. Dad would always have some kind of story about the trouble he got into and the pranks he played on grandpa, as well as how much he loved my grandmother. My mother told me a funny story about how dad tried to make some food for grandma, and he used shoe polish in the dish. This part is relevant later on in my story about him.
He met my mom in the fall of 1977 and, as he described, fell in love at the sight of her. He told me that mom was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen, that he looked at his friend and said, "I'm going to marry that woman." He gave merry chase after that, my mom wasn't as sure as he was. But three months later, they were wed in a small ceremony, a winter wedding in 1978. He and mom went on to start their new life together as one.
In 1980, they were blessed with my older sister, Melissa, 1983, myself, and 1986, Cassandra. Melissa and Cassandra were definitely daddy's girls, while I was a momma's girl. I don't remember much of my younger childhood other than I was a happy kid, and that we moved around a bit. I remember the places we lived and have snatches of memories about those places, more memories in the newer places the older I got...
The place that I loved living at the most was the caretaker's apartment at a storage facility. My dad and mom had a blast working there, if I remember correctly, and we had a blast playing there, it was the best place for a game of hide and seek without even having to open any of the units up. Dad worked really hard there, but he had plenty of fun, and they were able to put Melissa and me into dance class.
I don't remember the exact year that my mom was working second shift at a nursing home (after we got into the house we grew up in), but this is where his weird cooking came into play. Dad would cook what he knew how to cook. Back then, his catalog was quite limited to breakfast foods, monkey bread (which is one of my favorite things he ever made), and meat and potatoes. Pretty much every night, we would be stuck staring down at shoe leather pork chops, some canned veggies, and instant spuds. We complained at some point, and it led him to making the strangely wonderful "Cheeseburger Mashed Tater Pie," which was simply ground beef, instant spuds, and cheese. It was so good. More importantly, this is the time period my older sister and I started trying to cook food for ourselves as a means of getting through the constant swine piles. I was eight when I finally learned some easy stuff like boxed mac and cheese, and I would probably not have learned this until later, nor have the passion I have now for cooking. In a way, it is his doing that I even started the blog that came before this one.
After all of us grew up, dad no longer had to worry about raising us, and he grew kind of depressed. But then he went and got himself ordained and started to marry people, which became a great joy for him. He wasn't your typical reverend; he had tattoos, a long beard and hair, and he was gruff. That didn't matter to the people who asked for his services... This became his favorite job since he'd been a truck driver. He married people no matter what because he believed that love was the most wonderful thing. Sometimes he waived his fee as a gift to couples. I have included pictures of him officiating as well as participating otherwise in weddings.
As you can see from a few of these pictures, he was a prankster. The man loved a good joke, and taught us all how to prank. Him and I had a war going on (that I actually won because I took what he taught me and ran) but he was gracious about the loss and said it was a great joke. I remember many stories where he would prank his coworkers and sometimes scare the crap out of them. His favorite joke and one that he repeated was dressing up as a woman for two halloweens, and it went on to be successful and a smash hit among both sets of coworkers. Fair warning with this one, it involves toilet humor, but he liked fart jokes the most. Trust me, growing up with my dad farting on me was not my favorite thing, but it did teach me that it wasn't as gross as people made it out to be and that it is okay to laugh at flatulence.
Aside from the fart jokes, there were many things that made him happy... Working on cars, tinkering with computers, building cool stuff, etc. He was a hard worker for most of his life. He even served our country in the Navy before he met my mom and worked as a volunteer firefighter. The man lived a life of adventure, travel, and hard work. He provided for us so that we would never go hungry as kids, he would do things that we were embarrassed about when we were kids that we can look back as adults and say that we are grateful that he did these things... Our friends all loved dad, he was like a dad to many and touched so very many lives.
I miss him terribly... I miss hearing his voice and his encouragement when I need to hear it. I miss the hours of conversation, the wisdom of some of his words and his humor. I miss his campfire chili and beef stew, and yes, his monkey bread. Sometime in the next week, he'll be placed into the earth with a 21 gun salute, and it will be finality. I can honestly say that I am not ready...
My dad really was one of my biggest fans. I had started my original blog, Foodie-Zoo after some encouragement from my best friends, and he decided he wanted to pay for a domain name to put it on. He did his best to keep that thing running, but his server computer just wasn't the greatest and eventually, he forgot to pay for the domain name, which is okay because I never expected him to pay for it in the first place.
He didn't always like the food that I made, but he did eat some of my experiments and he did always want for me to keep going, I don't think that I would have become the food blogger I am today if he hadn't encouraged me as he did.
I really am not ready for saying goodbye, but I have to reconcile myself to it because he is gone on to a better place. I am grateful that he is no longer in pain, that he no longer suffers as he had in his last years of life. I could write a whole book on his life instead of this compact version, but it would still never be enough words to share my dad with you.
I am going to keep this blog going, even if there are times that I just can't post... He wouldn't want me to give up on what I have worked hard for, even though you only see a fraction of it in comparison to the old blog... I just hope that I can do him proud.
In Loving Memory Of:
The Eccentric Foodie
Cooking bacon in the oven is the easiest way.
These are various recipes that either I created, or I found and adjusted to what I thought would be awesome or even healthier.