Thank You Dad

I know sometimes you all get tired of me mixing my personal life in with the work stuff. I am not gonna stop. Since I have been doing this I have found writing to do a lot of things for me, but I never knew it would be therapeutic. It is. I thank all of you who have supported me, asked about my Dad in the past, and still ask about my Mom.

One of the best parts of Twitter is all of the support & people I have gotten to meet and befriend. I appreciate you all. My Dad passed away exactly one year ago today. July 1st at about 3:30 am. I will never forget that day. I will never forget watching him take his final breaths and watching him flatline. I am in a lot of ways glad I was there at the very end. I had watched him fight and fight and fight. He was not only a great father who did everything you could ask of a father, but he was a great example of how to be a husband too.

For those of you that do not know, Dad had stage 4 lung cancer. Twice he fought it off before the pandemic hit. He had just beat cancer for the second time right before the pandemic. He got the all clear and then a month later he went back into the hospital due to respiratory issues.  He had been at Kindred for the 10 months prior due to lung issues which caused him to almost suffocate in December of 2021. We got a call on Christmas Eve that said, “You may want to come down here and say goodbye. Your Dad just coded and we had to bring him back to life.” We all headed up and sat through the night until they told us that he was starting to take a turn for the better and they could not believe it. We could. We had seen this show before. He wasn’t talking or responding, but he was still here. After getting an emergency trach a month later, he started to become responsive. He was back and starting to get better. We had no idea that the cancer was back. It got right to his heart a few days before he passed. He was a tough man, though. He fought his hardest and I admire him for that.

I was lucky enough that I got to spend the last 6 months with Dad every day up at Kindred. I was able to work from his room on my MacBook and we got to talk a lot. He told me he was proud of me, how excited he was for KP to be the next Head Coach, and he was ecstatic to learn that his buddy Derek’s son was coming here to help out KP. As bad as everything was, he never showed it. I think he knew his time was coming up and I kind of treated it like i knew he was gonna beat it again. Even on the one day I came to visit him and I broke down in tears, he grabbed my hand and said, “Do not worry, everything will be OK. Maybe in a way I knew it too because that was just a few weeks before he passed. My cousin Jonothon & his wife Saint Whitney brought all of the kids up and they sang for Dad. He was not feeling that good that day, but as they started to sing Dad popped up and started mouthing the words and getting emotional. I feel like he knew. He was always very protective of us so maybe thats why he didn’t tell us. He was always our rock. That’s for sure.

My Dad was a loving, but strict Dad. He never was unfair to us. The punishment always fit the crime looking back. He was very funny. He was also friendly; one of the people who never meet a stranger as the saying goes. We would go to Ohio Valley Wrestling and all of the wrestlers would talk with him. Cena, Batista, Orton, Shelton, Brock, & whoever else was there. As I am getting older, I know I got my smart mouth from my Momma, but I am my Dad through and through. We both used to jokingly get offended when people told us that we looked alike. Now I take that as an honor (After I flip the person off).

I have missed him so much over the last year, but I have not been overly sad. That bothered me for a while until I realized that he had been preparing us for life without him over the past few years. He had not been at home with Mom for a year so that lightened the blow for her. Just things he would say or that happened that helped make this easier for us which is so Dad, worrying about us instead of himself. He was key to keeping me sane after I got injured playing Football.

Another thing my Dad loved was to travel. Once I got into high school our vacations went from going to the Executive Inn in Owensboro (All we could afford at the time) to going out west or up east for 3-4 weeks and stopping at every historical site there was. At that time, my brother and I hated them. Now we love them and are thankful we got to see them with him. It was not just historical places though, it was sports places too. The first trip out west we were in Seattle and rode by the Kingdome. He stops the car and gets out. We are all looking at him like he is crazy. He comes back outside and parks the car and tells us he told them we were from out of town and wondered if we could take a look around. They told him yes. It was during the season so we could not believe it. I did not even think to ask anything like that. Dad thought it would be cool so he did it. It also worked that trip at the Metrodome, Rangers Stadium, and the Rose Garden. Dad had the gift of gab. We also watched the Rockies their first year in Denver and then on the next vacation went to SKyDome to watch the Jays. When wrestling was in town he made sure we had front row seats. His friend’s wife worked at the Ticketmaster booth and always hooked us up. Both parents would work 70 hours a week or more leading up to vacation so they could take that time off to spend with us. Mom was a nurse & Dad was a tool and die maker.  He was just always going the extra mile for us which is why we did the same for him. We probably did not appreciate it as much then as we should have. I am glad as my 30s rolled around I was able to get closer to him and tell him and my Mom how much I appreciated their sacrifices and hard work.

He was one of the coolest Dads I have ever met. If my car broke, he would fix it. When my wife and I thought we had a pregnancy scare right after we started dating, we went to him and instead of yelling he comforted us and told us to hide it from Mom until we had it figured out. Lol. He loved my wife like she was his own daughter. He really was super Dad. He was very handy. He was always remodeling the house in one way or the other and never had to pay anyone a dime to do it. Mister fix-it if you will. I remember the last day of school my fifth grade year. Me & my brother were coming home on the bus and as we turned the corner and our front yard came into view we saw something amazing there. He had built a go cart that looked like a dune buggy with his friend Allen from across the street. It was so dope. He could also fix anything. During the pandemic, I started to learn how to build things and be handy. He was so proud of me even though those were things I should have probably already knew. Lol. He was always really cool to all of my friends too. He could be grilling out for us for dinner and if he saw my friend Roman or Cory or Terry walking down the road he would have them come to driveway and grab some food. He was definitely the “team” Dad in my friend group alongside Corys’ Pops. He took us everywhere during the summer after work. He was so proud when I got my offer to play at UofL and we were the first people at spring practice the first day followed shortly after by a kid named Chris Red something. You may have heard of him. lol. But even my college teammates loved him. Every time any of our cars gave us any trouble, Dad was up there to work on them and never charged anyone a dime. If he could fix it he would.

Dad was proud of me and my brother when we did something good and he would go around telling everyone. Once CSZ first started he was our first hype man over at Bill Jones Barber Shop. Same thing once we took our podcast on the airwaves at ESPN 93.9 The Ville. He listened every week and told everyone at the Shop or grocery to listen as well. When Dad got cancer the second time it was days before I left the show. I wanted to be there for him even though he did not want me to do that. He knew how hard I worked to get there but I knew hoe much he meant to me and how I wanted to repay him for all of the times he sacrificed for me. I would do it a million times over.

He loved his church too. We never missed a service. He was a Deacon at our church too so he would go to the hospital and visit the members that were in there sick. He would go and pick up the preachers and take them to our church or to a revival in another town if they couldn’t drive. He served the Lord like very few others and I believe that’s why he was so merciful to him and let him keep bouncing back. He was the reason me & my brother got saved. He took us to church every service, every week.

I sit here wondering why I am not sadder. I can not help but to think about the old saying, “Let your good times outweigh your bad.” Thanks to Dad my good more than outweighed the bad. When I was a child I never knew how much my family struggled because my parents never let it show. As a teenager, my Dad taught me how to work hard. That is why I am who I am today. As a newlywed, that stuff did not scare me because I had great examples of how to be married and how to parent As a 35 year old when he got sick at first he was still teaching me things. This time it was how to be humble and not ashamed if you needed help. I love him and miss him every day, but my last image of him was of him in his coffin at his visitation. I choose not to remember him like that. I choose to look at all of the pictures and videos I thankfully have of him to keep his memory around and they make me happy.

He would have been so pumped to know who all from UofL, past and present, came to see him during visitation or called to tell me a story about him. (Not going to name drop) He loved UofL. He passed down that love to us. He taught us to treat everyone the same even as we had neighbors that did not share those same values. Dad also took loyalty & referring people for jobs very seriously. He would not go to a different gas station because the people at the one by the house were good to him. He would not just refer you to work with him either. He did not want to vouch for you and your bad habits reflect on him. As serious as he was, he was also equally silly as he got older. He loved to make us laugh. He loved everyone and treated them like family.  He loved my neices like they were his grandkids.

You may ask, why did you feel the need to share this a year after he passed? I will answer like this. I was not ready to really dive in and share that just yet. I felt like it was something he deserved and that it was a great way to honor him. I hope you enjoyed these stories and I know I left out some. Sorry, Dad. I know you would have loved this piece. If we are ever able to adopt, I hope that I can be even 1/2 of the Dad that Don Wahman was. If I can be then that is really all the homage I need to pay him. So cheers to Dad. A great man, a great husband, a great Dad, a great church member, a great example, and one of the best men I have ever met in my entire live. I love you Dad and I will see you again one day. Thank you all for praying for him over the years and supporting me through the rough times. I really appreciate it and he did too. Thank you for reading and God bless.

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