I wish I could find a way to express my gratitude for Roy Norman Thompson. He is the father of my wife and the grandfather to my children. I have known Roy for about thirteen years now. I say I know him but the reality is that I know about him. My wife loves her father very much and spent a considerable amount of time telling me about him. She shares stories of their times together, of his past before her and the parts of him that made him unique. He was a good man with an excess of flaws that gave him character and added to his likability. Roy and I never lived near each other, so I never got to spend much time with him one on one, but I do have a few favorite memories of him that I would like to share.
When my son was a year old we went down to Arizona and stayed with Tracy’s parents for a week. On one of the days when Roy wasn’t working we went to the driving range to hit a couple buckets of balls. I had to use Roy’s clubs because I hadn’t brought my own. We talked and hit balls for a good part of the afternoon, right up until I broke his driver. Yeah, snapped the head right off. I didn’t duff it or anything, the damn thing just broke. Now some men might have been pissed, but Roy just looked at it and said, “I never used it much anyways.” I felt horrible, but he put me at ease and I’ve never forgotten that.
On that same trip on the we sat out on the back patio of their condo and talked politics and socio-economics. Boring to most people, but I was fresh out of school and full of ideals. We argued back and forth, him on the conservative side and me on the uber-liberal. Roy was respectful and listened to both sides of the argument just the way I try to and I imagine we would have kept at it for a long time if his wife hadn’t reigned us in. This is one of my favorite memories. I love a good, friendly debate and it was a lot of fun getting to do that with Roy.
The final memory I want to share is more recent. There are others and I could continue to go on, but I don’t want to ramble. A couple of weeks ago I set up my in-laws with a web cam. We hopped on Skype and they got to see my wife and the boys (I was a bit crowded out of the picture). Roy was becoming frustrated because he couldn’t hear us (we found out later their sound had been turned off), but he still spoke with the boys and for one brief moment I saw him smile. It was not a fake smile used when on camera, it was an honest to goodness, felt from the heart, light up his face, sort of smile. I wish I could have captured it in that moment. He was tired and the medication had him a little loopy, so the call was a short one, but it was magic.
Early this morning we got the call we had been dreading for days. Roy had passed away. He had lost the fight with cancer that he had been fighting for three years and was finally at peace. Roy was a miracle. His life should have ended decades ago when my wife was a teenager, but he always managed to pull through no matter the odds. Even a year and a half ago when the doctors were certain of his death he managed to beat off their predictions and lived for another 18 months.
Thank you Roy for being the father of my wife. She is the light that brightens my day and I have you to thank for that. I will do my best to honor your memory by being there for your daughter while she cries for you and in the many days that come after when she misses her daddy. Your memory will live on through her and her children and I am glad you will hurt no more. God Bless you Roy.