Showing up at the middle school to pick me up in the white hearse with QV103.3 radio station call letters painted on the side. (He won it in a costume contest and drove it for a year before selling it off.)
Painstakingly creating the most amazing Halloween costumes for the whole family every year growing up. I would groan and complain as I had to hold still while he measure and fitted things around my head and worked to make them just right. At the time (decked out as the cat on top of a trash can with moving paws and tail or a giant reptile with a tongue that could reach out and scare people or an alien with a full space ship) I was not as impressed as I am now looking back..
At holidays, he shopped like crazy to find just the right quirky little gifts for us. And always picked out special ornaments at Christmas.
The ultimate ‘Room Dad’ – he was up at the school, helping out with posters for clubs, elaborate costumes for the drill team and he even made the mascot uniform worn by me and others at Burk High.
He had a quick wit and could look a bit like Groucho Marx when he wiggled his eyebrows. He showed us how to pour peanuts in our bottle of Coke or RC for a salty fizzy treat and every time we passed a field with round hay bales he would swear they were martian eggs (a tradition which I continue with my children).
He’d obsessively line everything up around him – the keys on the table by the door, the TV remotes, the tools on the worktable at the flower shop. Sometimes I would move one askew when he wasn’t looking just to see how long before he adjusted it back in place. T-Man came across this trait honestly.
He taught me that it’s ok to be quirky. To think a little differently. To do things that are unexpected. To have fun and act like a kid. To love creating things and to think big. To notice the things around you that can be used in a different way – plastic 2 liter bottles could turn into full size drill team dancers and 2 inch foam rubber can be transformed into literally anything your heart desires!
Wish he’d had more time to show these things to his grandkids, but I think we are passing the lessons along. The years may go by but the memory remains.