An Open Letter

To man who made such an impact in my life-

When I first heard of you, it was when you were watching your brother get married and it was also the time my mom was watching her best friend get married.  Fast forward to the moment you married my mom and y’all decided to move from Lubbock to Round Rock.  It was such a trying time for us all, but you made it so much easier to transition to being comfortable in a new place with new friends and surroundings.

I remember telling you when I was 6, that I wanted to grow up to be a teacher, just like my first grade teacher Mrs. Richie.  You always encouraged me, right alongside my mom to be the best that I could be.  You sat there, year after year, listening to me tell you all the stories on how I am going to grow up to be a kindergarten teacher and be one of the best ones out there.  Even for career day, when my mom couldn’t come, you came.  You painted houses, and at the time I had no idea that you didn’t make a ton of money, because I knew you did what you had to do to help my mom any way you can.  The way you spoke of your job, made me, and my fellow students understand how much hard work you have to put in your job, day in and day out in the grueling Texas heat. Working on tall(dangerous) ladders without someone being at the bottom holding you in place, just to paint the outside trim of someone’s house.

I remember not being as good as Nathan at soccer, and just majority athletic events and I would get so mad, and you would always say “it’s ok goober, give it your best shot next game”!  Athletics were never a big part of my life and I am so glad that both you and my mom never let me quit and told me to keep trying.  Soccer was the only sport I did, and I did eventually become one bad-ass defensive end.  I worked hard and gave it my all, every game, and I am so thankful for the both of you encouraging me to stick with it, put it the work and time, and be proud of myself.

Another thing that only you could have done, is help me with my fear of heights.  I remember year after year, you would ask me to climb up to the roof and look at the stars with you and my brother.  I NEVER did it, until one day.  You stood by me, holding my hand as far you could until I was about halfway up, and you said “now you can do the rest of the way on your own, while I hold the bottom of the ladder” I was SO terrified, I wanted to back down and you said “whatever you do, don’t look down, look up to the roof and once you get off the ladder, I will meet you up there, you will not fall”. Looking back, Yes it was only a one-story house, but it was the biggest thing I had ever overcome and it was you who led me to do it.

Thank you for being a shoulder to cry on, having long talks in the garage where you smoked (and even though I hated it), your ability to have the deepest conversations with us in there was so nice.  I would sit and watch you create such beautiful artwork and I would always tell you that I think you should try to publish your pieces and you always said “I am not that good, no one would be interested in any of this”.  I am glad that you had your “thing” on the side that always made you happy and I could tell you that you encouraged Nathan to find his artistic side and learn how to create something amazing using lines and shadows.

Grocery shopping was also one of “our” things.  I would go with you, and we would spend hours in there, but you taught me to “go through every isle, just in case you might miss something”.  You would have all the ideas for meals and I would push the cart around, randomly throwing in things that I “needed” and you would smile when we went to check-out knowing what I did, but I didn’t mad at me.  You made me LOVE to go grocery shopping and always taught me to start with the fruits/veggies and end with the frozen.  Thank you for all of our hours spent in HEB.

Thank you for being the dad I never had growing up.  For always being right by my mom alongside our games, cheering.  Thank you for encouraging Nathan and I always to better.  Even though your marriage to my mom did not last, we made a life-long friendship.  When the doctors gave you less than 6 months to live, you showed them that a number of days left in life doesn’t mean anything, and have surpassed that by over a year.  Your liver is slowly but surely taking your life, but you continue to push along and stay strong.  Thank you for always being interested in what we are all doing in our life.

I love you, David Wikoff(DW)!