We felt the safest and warmest and most loved we have ever felt up there. Sitting close to his chest, nestled on the seat made by the crook of his arm, our heads together looking up to the heavens on late summer evenings. He would point out stars, planets, and satellites, tracing their paths across the night sky. He would reveal to us the constellations and tell wonderful tales of how and why they were there in the velvet darkness. He wrote letters from Santa, and shook bells and laughed deeply so we would nestle into our beds and feign sleep on Christmas Eve. He was tall and strong and handsome and funny. He was loving and strict and worried too much. He is still and will always be all of those things. Of course, we are all so very much older, now.
We have journeyed through joys, and pains, births, and deaths, lessons hard, and lessons small. Dad had his life travels as well, and we always had his shining example making the best of his biggest struggles and relishing the joy in the simplest and most overlooked experiences in life, of living, of loving, and of giving. He loved birdsong and the sounds of the leaves whispering in the breeze, catching a fish, capturing that moment with a pencil and a piece of paper....lifting each new baby boy or girl and carrying them securely against that great chest, with that mighty heart beating, ' I love you, I love you, I love you..', as he pointed out the stars, or photos of other loved ones, light, color, words, how to punch, how to play, how to relate, how to appreciate every single thread in this vast universe as equally important.
Every single person here today has been impacted by Jim Tipton. He never had a bad word to say about anyone. He found a grace and worth in all who crossed his path. Was he a saint? Heavens, no. He would laugh so hard at the very thought....But he did live life on his terms, with a firm set of values, and a strong sense of self, that simply made us all want to be near him. He made everyone he was with feel like they were important and necessary, that they were special.
But you know, if I wrote every experience, every funny anecdote, because he WAS funny, described every event, or even had to try to just share his loves and his fears.. SPIDERS...whoa now....competitive spirit, the gentle but effective way he taught we children, his boxers, football players, grandchildren.....and on and on....mercy to you all, we would be here forever, or at least the next sixty years....
So for now, he leaves us fighting to hold on, and fighting to let go. We love you, Dad. We love you, we love you, we love you.
Added in response to a question from Teri on Facebook on 9/23/2014: Fighting to let him pass into the realm of memory, and our past, rather than being present in the here and now as he has been from the moment we were conceived until he departed. It is impossible to absorb the concept....like infinity. And it is crushing with each new realization.