Writing my dad’s obituary was one of the most daunting experiences of my life so far. How do you possibly sum up an incredible life in just 5 short paragraphs? Beyond that, once I had everything I think needed to be in there, we broke down in tears and laughter analyzing and over thinking for way too long. It’s funny how critical you can be when it’s so damn important. One thing I did know – it had to be personal, and I wanted people to read it and smile; because that’s what dad would have wanted.
So because on this blog, I speak my truth – I decided to share what I would have written if I had the entire newspaper to myself.
I met Ed Jacobs in January of 1985, when he was 29 years old. He had lived a lot of life already – was married to his love, my mom, and was well on his way to building a very successful career. He was smart, driven and realistic about working hard to get what he wanted. He also had a playful side; he loved sports and valued family more than anything. He had already experienced great loss at a young age with the tragic death of his sister Terese. I know they were close and he took her death very hard. But I do know she helped him through a LOT over the years and especially more recently. Their connection was so strong; he even told us they talked on a pretty regular basis during his illness, which was comforting to him, and I believe it.
Being my dad’s daughter was so full of experiences – love, life lessons in hard work, perseverance and adventures and of course a lot of laughter. When I started thinking about having children of my own, it was easy for me to say with confidence I wanted to raise them very similarly to how my parents raised us. Our home was warm, welcoming, accepting and open to all of our friends. My parents both took a vested interest in anything and everything WE were interested in. They encouraged us to follow our dreams, try new things, push our limits and also how to be SMART about the choices we made. Our home was full of respect – given and received. We trusted each other and were held accountable for our actions, all while being free to speak our minds and have our own opinions. I wouldn’t change a single thing.
I think the real fun started when I “grew up” – the years that happened after the angsty, often ungrateful teenage years. These were the years when I felt I was truly living alongside my parents as friends. (For the record, this is still the case today.) I never felt that there was anything I had to hide from my dad – we could talk about everything from silly shit to life’s biggest worries.
He showed us by example the importance of respecting money: saving it, managing it, spending it on things you love, and getting the best deal you could – affectionately known as his cheap-bone. He showed us what hard work was, and what it meant to be a good leader. I wrote this paragraph last fall when he made the incredibly hard decision to retire:
“My dad was an amazing boss and leader. I think one of the very hardest parts of this whole thing for him is the anxiety of leaving behind a legacy, and more important, the people who helped make it happen. He honestly loves his work, he pours himself into each detail – carefully planning the strategy and working towards making the bank and it’s employees the absolute best team they can be. He is respected. Sometimes CEOs are unapproachable, or intimidating… but not dad. He is always the first to ask about your family, or join in at the pick-up basketball game during the bank picnic. It’s hard to imagine the bank without him – and the decision to retire was one he grappled with.”
Thankfully, the bank is in excellent hands in my dad’s wingman John, and I am certain he will make dad proud.
The very best of my dad: Papa, came during the hardest of times in his life. Part of me imagines what it could have been like to watch my healthy dad play with Dane, teach him to fish, ride a sled and enjoy the finer things in life, like a good fireworks display and Kessler 😉 (I kid, but only kind of). I think this makes me the saddest – because even in his sickness, he was the best grandpa and I know what could have been. Though their relationship was short, it was so special and everyone knew it. Dane has never been shy about picking his favorite people, and my dad was easily at the top of the list. I know just how much D meant to my dad; I know it helped keep him alive and encouraged him to fight longer. In fact, in his final week of life, his biggest goal was always to make it to Dane’s 2nd birthday – which he did, and then some. I’m confident that we will all keep his memory alive for Dane, who will always know he has his very own angel in heaven.
So he’s gone from this earth, but I KNOW his spirit will live on in all of us. He’s right around us reminding us that life is short and that we should live in the moment. I’m a better person because of my dad and feel so lucky to have known him for 33 long years. I only hope when I’m his age I’ll have lived half the life he had. I love you daddy, and I’ll see you again, up on the roof. ❤