Bobbie and I were most excited to discover this photo of Ace. It is iconic of the man he was. The little boy in the shot is Eli, a neighbor (who has grown up quite a bit since this photo was taken.)
I love the metaphor of my dad embracing the children. It’s what he did for a career and it’s one of the things he did as the neighborhood grandfather.
Recently we received a wonderful letter from Mindy Dirks, the mother of the boy in the photo. It was a beautiful expression of how she remembers my mother and father, and it is shared with her permisison.
Dear Bobbie & Josh,
Writing this reminds me of the beautiful notes I always got from your mom about 1 hour after I had done something nice for her. Even the littlest gesture was always acknowledged and dutifully delivered by your dad.
I brought babies and toddlers to your house almost every day for 8 years knowing they’d be fully loved and accepted for who they were. Your mom always had a story about you two as children that fitted whatever stage my children were at. When I was worried, she’d tell how she worried similarly and offer the perspective that only a mother with grown children could have. She felt strongly that children should be accepted for who they are and that a mother needs to guard her children’s uniqueness, quirks and all.
Your dad was more of a brag-about-the-present kind of father. Whatever you two were up to was brag-worthy. He was proud of his children for sure, but even more, he delighted in the two of you. He was current in his knowledge of your lives and he took personal joy from all you did. It was as if your days were his days, your interests were his interests. It was particularly amusing watching your dad try to make his way through a book or article either recommended by one of you or having to do with your thoughts and interests. Each book enjoyed and deemed “fascinating,” not so much for its content but because of its connection to you two.
Both of your parents loved freely. Their eyes sparkled when they’d see my children and Jonah and Eli basked in this light. It helped shape my boys and gave them a sense of community and a broader concept of the word “home.”
This week, we mourn the loss of your dad. It is a big giant loss. Your dad’s last question to me as he lay dying was ‘how’s your dad?’ He truly cared about my life and my family. He celebrated the successes of everyone in my family, my parents included. As Josh said, he really was the superintendent of the neighborhood.
We are grateful for the time we shared with Ace and we take comfort in knowing that as he lay dying he was fully loved and cared for by the two he loved best. May the memory of Ace and the memory of Barbara be a blessing to us all.
Bobbie and I are very grateful to Mindy for her generosity in sharing her memories and feelings with us.