Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Tribute to My Daddy (1964-2011)

Darrin C. Burch
(Sept. 2, 1964 - Jan. 17, 2011)
It feels unreal that less than two weeks ago I was writing about feminist issues, and now I'm writing about my dad who has passed away.

Each word I write and each breath I take feel like a cruel dream at the end of a rough day. But it's real, it's here, this is now, and my world will never be the same. I don't think I will ever be the same.

My dad was in intensive care for about a week before he was officially pronounced brain-dead; as much as they tried to pump life back into him, his body wouldn't have it. All we could do was sit by his side for hours on end, hold his hand, and rub the arm hair we used to make fun of.

It's true what they say: you don't always realize what you have until you lose it. Because as much as I knew in my heart that I loved my dad, we didn't always see eye to eye. But in retrospect, everything we argued about, everything we butted heads on... that stuff really didn't matter. I want to smack myself because I wish I would have just swallowed my pride and let him be right once in a while so we could get on with life. I wish I would have savored every simple, happy moment.

As an "angsty" teenager, I feel like I never gave people the true story about my dad. It was always "yeah, my dad did this," or "he makes me so angry sometimes!" But did I ever tell anybody about how he used to pay me to try to get him to laugh by tickling his feet - and after seventeen years I finally succeeded? Did I ever tell anybody about how he used to flaunt his "moves" (especially one he made up called the Praying Mantis), or how he used to rub my earlobes "for power"? Did I ever tell anybody all the silly, simple, amazing things about him? Did I?

Let this be one of my greatest tributes to my dad: the true story.

Me and my dad on Christmas morning.
(Can't you just feel the excitement?)
To my dad, immense joy could be found in a new pair of socks. I could never understand that. I mean, really? Socks? I always thought that was lame and unoriginal. I can even remember trying to do my Christmas shopping as a kid and being so darned frustrated because Dad would never flat-out tell me what he wanted.

"I'll like anything," he'd say.

"So you're saying I can get you a rock with some mud on it, and you'll be happy?!"

He always said "yes." That's the kind of guy he was.

My dad and I would take walks sometimes, and just talk about the future, my prospects, and where I was going in life. My dad had faith in me like no other, and when he said he was proud of me, I was proud of me.

One of the only times I ever saw him cry was when I sang in public for the first time. He said he couldn't believe how brave I was - and coming from him, that meant a lot.

He was also my dinner buddy. Nobody else in my house likes ribs, for example, so when Dad would slap a rack on the BBQ - just for the two of us to share - watch out! I wonder who will eat ribs with me now.

One time my dad saved me from choking on a chip,
another time he jumped into a pool - fully clothed -
to stop me from drowning. This guy was my hero.
But the absolute best memories I have of my dad are from the time we spent together, just the two of us, out on the basketball court.

Once in a blue moon we would pack up our ball and head to my old elementary school to shoot hoops. He would always show off by doing crazy dribbles, jumping up, and dunking the ball like he used to do when he was a kid.

My dad was so cool when he was flying in mid air. He was Superman.

My dad was one of the quietest, most private people you would ever meet, but I don't think he realized how many people truly loved him, looked up to him, and respected him. Even in the end, he was incredibly selfless and chose to be an organ donor (we just found out that his heart will be going to somebody at the University of Washington - fitting, because he was a Husky fan).

I will be saying goodbye to my daddy for the last time tonight, and it may just be the hardest thing I've ever had to do. But I need to tell him a few things, including how much I loved him.

How much I love him.

In closing, I have a few things to say that probably won't make any sense, but my dad will get it:

Dad, for as long as I live,
I'll try not to leave the fridge door open too long,
or let my fan run and run,
or turn the lights up too high.
And I will always, always put my chips in a bowl!


  1. Hi Danielle,

    Your post was so loving and touching. Your dad sounds like an amazing person who really loved you. You and your family are in my thoughts!

    Take care,

  2. Danielle,

    My heart goes out to you...I'm so very sorry for your loss. Your Dad sounds like he was an amazing man.

    Keeping you in my thoughts during this difficult time...


  3. I am so sorry for your loss. What a special and loving dad; how dearly you love him.

  4. My deepest condolences, Danielle. My father has been ill for many years and is currently in a nursing home, so I know how hard it can feel. Email me at starofdavida @ gmail whenever.

    Jewish mourning ceremonies dictate that the Kaddish is recited three times every day for a year after the death, and on the anniversaries.

    Glorified and sanctified be God's great name throughout the world which God has created according to God's will. May the Creator establish a kingdom in your lifetime and during your days, and within the life of the entire House of Israel, speedily and soon; and say, Amen.

    May God's great name be blessed forever and to all eternity.

    Blessed and praised, glorified and exalted, extolled and honored, adored and lauded be the name of the Holy One, blessed be God, beyond all the blessings and hymns, praises and consolations that are ever spoken in the world; and say, Amen.

    May there be abundant peace from heaven, and life, for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

    God, who creates peace in the celestial heights, may the Creator create peace for us and for all Israel; and say, Amen.

    The theme of Kaddish is not remembrance of the deceased, but the greatness of God, in order to remind ourselves that humans are only here on Earth to fulfill a purpose; once they have finished that job, God reclaims them. May you find peace.

  5. Thank you Danielle, for writing this. You are brave. I have known Darrin since we were in junior high. I just found out he was gone this morning. Your pictures are wonderful, and now I am going to go find that video I keep reading about. He was a wonderful friend. We are all blessed to have known him. Ted

  6. This post is so beautiful - you clearly love your dad and he sounds like an amazing role model. Stay strong!


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