True, it’s been some time since I posted anything here on WorldRider.com. There’s nothing quite like the passing of a parent to smack oneself like a two-by-four to the head.
Yes, my father, Wayne F. Karl, at 82 years old and surrounded by family, including yours truly, passed away peacefully in Vero Beach, Florida on December 19, 2017 at about 2PM.
Dad lived a life large—huge. His impact on so many people as a community leader, fire chief, stat fire commissioner, town fire marshal, commodore, president of the local Kiwanis club—in 1998 he was recognized by the town leaders as “citizen of the year” — they bestowed him the honor of proclaiming a “Wayne Karl Day.”
There is no shortage of names and titles my dad earned throughout his life.
But the most important—to me was father—and to most everyone else in his universe—friend.
Oh yes, my dad was honored with and collected plenty of awards, trophys, certificates, and plaques and pins— and trust me, as many of you know my dad liked to collect things.
Dad never boasted, bragged or bored us with tales of bravado. Awards and such things are usually relegated to the walls and shelves of an office or home—not carried with you.
No. What dad carried, or brought throughout his life was character. Oh, and he was a character.
What is it we truly remember most, in this time of reflection—about my dad—or about anyone?
Certainly not awards and accolades.
Ask yourself, how will you be remembered?
What impact or impression will you leave?
Wayne Karl made an impression, an undeniable impact and inspired me—in so many ways.
My dad was funny. With a dead-pan and often dark sense of humor—he could make anyone laugh.
He had many rituals, in fact. He loved to read the morning paper with a cup of coffee, which he called “mud”. Before reading the front page, the headlines, he turn immediately to the obituaries. He’d peer through his glasses and quietly, he would study them.
“Why do you always read the obituaries?” I asked him often.
Without a flinch, his answer was always the same “I want to make sure I’m not in there.”
Dad was incredibly charismatic. He could talk you into doing most anything to get a laugh—to surprise you, challenge you, or even trick you. He was happy prankster.
He also gave a nickname for most everyone in his universe—for which hardly anyone gave offense.
In more than 50 years I have never heard my dad address me by my real name.
I have always been “Casper” — a name he gave me as a child—when with bright white hair and in a white infant jumpsuit, to him I looked like Casper The Friendly Ghost. That name stuck and to all his friends—they too knew me as Casper.
Beyond terms of endearment, dad’s use of nicknames were just one of the ways he taught me to bring levity and a little bit of laughter to life—and not to take anything too seriously—no matter what happens.
One day dad told me a story. He ran into another local community and business leader —Ed Lawrence—the late owner of the local funeral home here. He said, Ed asked “How are you feeling, Wayne?” Dad replied—“none of your business, Ed.”
Levity and laughter.
Don’t take anything in life too seriously. No matter what happens.
Great lessons. Dad made an impression on each of us.
His passing, a week after my birthday and just a few days before Christmas and in the midst of the holiday season, I was reminded by others who’ve experienced loss that more often than not, many of those we love somehow “choose” to leave us during the holidays—or around a holiday or other important or celebratory date. In many ways they are insinuating that the time of loss is not coincidence? Have you experienced this?
To be sure, there is never a good time nor are we every truly prepared for losing a parent or someone close to us. My dad was a huge fan of “WorldRider” and followed my journeys and supported me in spirit, and during my Kickstarter campaign through the publishing and subsequent book tour for my tome “FORKS: A Quest for Culture Cuisine and Connection“. Though, I know he would’ve preferred that I stayed closer to home, he still encouraged me.
My brother Jonathan, hosted the ABC Sunday morning show “This Week” the week dad passed away, he closed the show with a fitting and beautiful tribute.
I miss you dad, but you’re with me everywhere I go and every smile I find. And that’s the serious truth!
June 9, 1935 - December 19, 2017