I met Gerald when I was 18 years old, and after that first introduction it was the last time I ever called him “Mr. Overall.” Everyday afterward from that day to this-I have always called him Dad. I meant it when I called him that. It was an honor to be his adopted daughter. He taught me to garden. He taught me to make homemade soup. He taught me to have confidence in all that I do. He taught me through example how to stand up and be proud of all that I am and all that I will ever become in this life.

Priceless lessons that only a true father could ever hope to teach as quietly, and as seamlessly as he did. He was a master at teaching in ways that were subtle. His laughter was also compelling and very helpful. He had a terrific smile. It helped the lessons become less obvious. No one could tell a joke and hit the mark the way he could. Every time.

I miss him. I will spend the rest of my life honoring him through practicing what he taught me to become-and passing that knowledge down to my son and my two beautiful granddaughters Ivy and Alaya.

I’ll leave your with the greatest lesson he ever taught me. I was 26 at the time and my “legal” father had just passed on. On his own death bed he made me promise to become a lawyer or a doctor because he had decided that is what would make him “proud” of me. I was smart enough- I lacked the passion required however and I felt torn apart by the demand.

I told my father in law about my feelings on the matter. About my internal conflict regarding honor and duty to my family.

This is what he told me:

“Kassi,” Dad said to me, “Love- you gotta stand up for yourself. You keep yourself on the correct course and that’s all that matters. Being true to yourself and doing the right thing. Play to your strengths and do it with a humble heart. That’s what makes ME proud. There’s nothing better than that.”

He was right. He was smack on-dead center correct. He had a keen sense about him-and I never knew him to be wrong once about anything he felt or believed in.

I love you Dad. Thank you for believing in me. Thank you for teaching me to also believe in myself.

My teenage nickname was Kassi—and even though it is not my legal name-it is what he always called me. I shall sign it here In his memory.

I love you Dad. Rest In Peace.