This time of year is always kind of bittersweet for me. When I was 15 I lost one of the most influential people in my life. Does it matter that he was one of few great role models in my life? I would venture to say, yes definitely. It changed the course of my life. It changed my belief system. It changed the way I live my life. Some people call it reckless, some people call it adventurous, I call it living my life to it's absolute fullest. Not many people can say that they've lived in 4 different states without also including the fact that they've been in the military, which I am not, by the time they were 25.
Fred was one of the greatest men I've ever known. His morals were a little skewed at times but when it came to his family and his friends, he was loyal. I was his melan"kallay" baby, as he used to say. He did everything for me. Came to my swim meets, taught me how to drive a boat, mentored me like a father and loved me like no other man in my life has. He was, for lack of any other term, my daddy. I looked up to him and loved him as if he had raised me since birth. I was the first baby he had ever held. He built my first tricycle and when it came time, he built my first two wheel bike and removed the training wheels.
In the 90's he moved to Las Vegas when his job demanded that he relocate. He was in the FBI and was extremely hard working and involved in his community. Needless to say though, I was devastated. But even though we were miles apart he kept in touch and even surprised me on Christmas on year. It was a great Christmas.
In November of 1996, Fred was riding home on his most prized possession and great lifelong friend... his Harley Davidson. It was red and chrome and HUGE. He loved his motorcycles and not once had he ever taken for granted the danger of his passion. On board was his step daughter Julie. They were riding home down a mountain in Las Vegas appropriately termed "the widow maker" and when Julie lost her balance on the bike, Fred tried to correct and made a life altering mistake. He swerved over the yellow line and into the ditch on the other side of the road and swerved back into oncoming traffic to get back in his own lane. When he did so, he hit another car head on and both he and Julie were killed instantly. It was November 30, 1996.
This year will mark 11 years. I can hardly believe that it's been that long. It feels like yesterday to me. I remember not sleeping and not eating for the days before his funeral. I remember wondering how I would get through life without my daddy to give me advice and steer me in the right direction. I remember feeling so empty and so alone.
But as they say, time heals all wounds. There will always be a part of my heart that aches a little at the sight or sound of his name, but I can also think of the good times now and smile rather than have an angry cry. He was a wonderful man. One whom I will never forget. I think of him daily and at this time of year especially. I used to love holidays with Fred. He was the life of the party. So funny and so outgoing. I miss that so much. So every year I say a little prayer and send it up to him letting him know that I am still thinking of him. I know he is listening. When I see motorcycles I think of him and his love for the thrill of the ride with the wind in his face.
If he taught me anything it was just to enjoy life. To love your family and your friends. To show gratitude to those who do great in your life. And to appreciate the small stuff. Make a mistake and learn from it. Laugh at everything. Give to those who are less fortunate than you, whether it be time or money, because those small acts will make the largest difference.
You were a great man Fred and I know that somewhere you are resting in peace. You have followed your long road home and enjoyed every ride of it.
I love you.
Fred DeWitt and Julie Ideson
November 30, 1996
(Romans 8:38,39) For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.