Tribute to my Stepfather
People sometimes ask me why I chose “Forever Young” as the song I wanted to dance to with you at my wedding. It’s not a choice that typically comes to people’s mind for that occasion. But to me, it was perfect because it captures all of the important lessons every parent tries to pass down to their child. And “due unto others as you’d have done to you” and “never love in vain”, are just a small fraction of what you have taught me. You taught me to spell my first word. “The”. And I still remember it! You taught me about whales, making maple syrup, and made me learn what the heck a salamander was. You taught me to how to crack open crab legs while keeping the meat all in one piece. And how to swing at a softball without lifting my back leg. It’s because of you I know the meaning of “erosion”. You taught me how to drive a stick-shift, despite my firm belief that I was never going to need to know. You taught me algebra and chemistry. And somehow, your methods of saying the same thing louder and louder until I understood it, must’ve worked! (And by the way, I am not Lauri!) You taught me to love Greek mythology and French impressionism. You taught me to love traveling and more importantly, how to find the best deals for it online. You taught me how to be a conscious consumer and how to avoid scams. You taught me if I get sick, that I’ll get over it and not expect you to prescribe me anything! You taught me that it wasn’t enough just to appreciate something. I had to “appreciate it right”.
But most of all, you taught me how to be the kind of person others look up to and respect. To embrace my silliness instead of shying away from it. You taught me to work hard for what I want and to never give up, even when the rest of the world thinks my dreams are foolish. You taught me to never do anything halfway and to always give my all. You taught me to find what I am passionate about and strive to embrace it in any way I can. You taught me to never lose my inner-child, no matter how far away from her the calendar tells me I am.
I know you left this world, regretting nothing. No love unstated, no grievances unresolved, and no opportunity missed. Even in your passing, you are still teaching me. You have taught me that I have grudges that need to be buried, relationships that need to be mended, and chances that need to be taken. You taught me to live each day like it was my last….because I never know when it will be.
“For all the wisdom of a lifetime, no one can ever tell”….but you certainly came close. Thank you for being a wonderful father. You didn’t have to be, but I have been so blessed because you were. I love you.
And even though this will make sense to no one except you and me, I want to tell you that I know you will always close the door halfway. And I will always lock you out.
Jay Stark was a wonderful man and a great father…..I will never argue with that.
R.I.P. Dr. Jay Stark