Monday, March 22, 2010

In Memory of My Dad-in-Law

Mrs. Kid's father passed away last week, so we had a memorial service today. Here is a copy of what I read on behalf of the children (Mrs. Kid, her sister, and brother-in-law).

Scotty was the cool one.

In our family, Scotty stood out not just because of his Scottish accent, but also because he made a living with his hands and his wits. The rest of us are over-educated academics who get to work jobs with air conditioning and soft chairs. Scotty stopped school at age 15, but managed feats many of us can only aspire to. He started and sold a company and helped put two girls through college.

Through the course of his diverse work history, Scotty was:
  • in the British Navy and the US Army (82nd Airborne)
  • a postal worker (where he met Mary)
  • a manager for an apartment building and for a bike shop
  • a salesman and a licensed hypnotist
  • an entrepreneur who started and sold a company that fixed the damaged tile roof of a tunnel near Norfolk
He was also a handy man who made toy boxes we still use and built a screened in porch that provided many hours of enjoyment. It always seemed to me that he knew how to do anything with his hands.

About the same number of people know and use Scotty's real name as know and use the real names of Sting and Bono. Only his siblings back in the old country called him Freddy.

Scotty was ornery from the beginning. He weighed just over two pounds when he was born at his home on a farm in Scotland in 1935, but still survived to be a strapping man. It still amazes me that such a small baby back then in Scotland could make it. The determination that made that possible showed up many ways through his life.

When he was in the hospital for congestive heart failure in 2001, the single nicotine patch the nurses put on his arm wasn't enough, so he hid two or three more on his inner thighs. Not only that, but he would constantly try to get outside so he could have a smoke. To keep him from getting outside for a smoke, the nurses posted pictures of him at the nurses' station saying "do not let this man on the elevator." It was like a wanted poster at a post office.

Scotty lived life on his own terms. He was fond of sailing his radio-controlled yacht at the marina, and he also had a real sailboat and a kayak. Still, he was no granola-eating outdoorsman. He was fond of Glayva (a Scottish liqueur), but Mountain Dew was his drink of choice (he'd even let Boy Kid sneak a sip). When he was being good, he switched from regular Spam to Spam Lite. His wasn't the healthiest lifestyle, but he kept living it his way nearly to the end.

As a father, Scotty was the cool one. When I was in college and it was finals time, my parents would send me a big tin full of popcorn (which was much-appreciated). When Mrs. Kid was in college, Scotty would drive down with a couple cases of beer and have a party with her and her friends. Her college friends all knew Scotty and would ask "when is your father coming back?"

This coolness was great for Mrs. Kid when she was in college, but leaving him in charge of the kids was a little scary. I was always a bit worried that he'd let them drink Mountain Dew and skip their naps. Still, he loved his grandkids and they loved him. He always had such energy and passion for them.

Scotty was great. Our family is much less cool without him.

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