Tuesday, March 27, 2018

For Digger

My dad passed away quite unexpectedly on March 20th.  There is a lot of writing to process, more tears than I ever knew were possible or legal, lots of beer drinking and telling of stories about everything that made him such a larger than life personality.  My family has never experienced a loss this close before, and I feel so blessed to have had him in my life for 64 years.  I wanted to share what I wrote and read at his memorial celebration on Sunday, to try to capture in words what an incredible human being he was.  Over 500 people showed up to his celebration, and we received hundreds of more calls, texts, cards, posts, flowers, food and offers of support from our community across the world.  On behalf of my entire family, I want to thank everyone for the outpouring of support, and thank you also for respecting our need to grieve and process quietly by ourselves, as well.

For Digger
Read at his life celebration - March 25, 2018
Knight’s Steakhouse, Ann Arbor, MI.
By Lauren Fardig-Diop

My dad was the strangest person I’ve ever met, and from him, I learned to never
be afraid to be myself, even if no one else understood.  The strength that he
instilled in me, from not letting me quit a sport or game without trying, from pushing
myself physically on the field, to his honesty, his integrity, his humbleness make
me the person I am today.  I have so much respect and love for his inability to be
anyone but himself. To say that he was a simple man isn’t true, he was very
intelligent, but he was a guy’s guy, a sports guy, a barbershop guy, a guy who never
wore socks and cut his hair the exact same way since the 80’s.  His catchphrases
run through my head as I’m trying to sort through the memories that are flooding
back from 38 years of being his daughter.

The ice rinks he would make for us in the backyard every year.
That he was always up early, going to the gym with the boys.
His chair in the family room, always tuned into hockey, to crime dramas, to golf.
That we used to try to play a game about who could embarrass the other more,
me with dying my hair and walking into Knights, him by showing up at Halloween
High school to check on me.
The videos he would make of us, documenting every moment of our vacations,
hockey trips, ballet recitals that he got dragged to every year.
His wardrobe - dress sweats, golf shirts, loafers, no socks.  
That he has a sandwich on the menu at the Brown Jug.
Getting calls to be his DD at Frasers or Knights when I got my license.
4th of July at the Jacksons every year.
Tubing on the boat on Torch Lake, and watching him water ski with Tommy Ross
at the wheel.
Making Amy take the bus outside of East Lansing because he wouldn’t go to
Sports talk radio and traffic tipster Digger.  
Watching wim watching Danny wear Maize and Blue on the ice at Yost.
Going to softball games in Birmingham as a kid and tailgating with him
and his friends.
Michigan football games every Saturday at the Big House.
Family vacations coinciding with hockey trips - to Vancouver, to Chicago,
and eventually, all over the country when Danny played at Michigan.  
That he named a beer cooler Gary, and traveled everywhere with him -
and we referred to Gary as if he was a member of the family.  

I’m trying to find comfort in this:  He lived more fearlessly than most of us
know how.  He got to see all 3 of his children grow up, graduate from college -
all get degrees from Michigan, get married and find our careers.  He got to spend
quality time with all of his grandchildren, who loved him more than life itself.
Every single child he ever met loved him, because there was a playfulness,
a love of life that radiated from him -- there is no one else like Digger and there
will never be anyone quite as unique as my dad.  As we made the trip here from
New Jersey, I was thinking a lot about how he would want us to have a big party
to celebrate life and not be sad, but the shock of this loss has left me unprepared,
without the right words to do justice all that he means to all of us.

Thank you to everyone here, and everyone who could not be here but has been
touched by Digger’s sense of humor, his love of beer, sports and community.  
Thank you for your support in this most difficult time.

Cheers to Digger, a Wednesday Night Drinking Club legend!

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