My dad was one of the best men I’ve ever known. It’s hard to find people who are truly good, decent, hard-working, kind-hearted, and humble – but Dad was all of these things. I don’t think there are many people whose faith in God are as strong and as pure as Dad’s was. I don’t think the Pope has as much faith as Dad had.

Dad didn’t know how to make a long story short. He had a tendency to make a short story long…one of his more charming quirks that he managed to pass on to me, along with his “interesting” sense of humor. So please bear with me.

I didn’t have the typical “daddy’s little girl” relationship with my dad, but he did usually take my side in a fight while my mom would back Joe. (Even though I’m pretty sure I started it most of the time.)

Dad wanted great things for all of us, and he worked hard so he could provide for us, working nights and giving up sleep on the weekends so he could spend time with us. I don’t know how he did it for all of those years, but he did, and we’re all grateful for it.

It’s funny, the things you remember when you try to look back through the years. I remember my dad giving the children’s sermon here on Sunday, using his Donald Duck voice. I remember working with him on the electronics kit he bought me from Radio Shack when I was little, even though I never quite got a handle on it. I remember him trying to help me with my physics homework in high school, another thing I had a hard time getting a handle on. And I remember how proud he was of me when I took first place in a math competition held at another school.

Dad never smoked, never drank, and when it came to gambling, he could spend hours at the penny slots on the same $10 to pass the time just so my mom could have fun playing the other machines. His only real vice was going out to eat. That’s how we knew when he was really sick, when he stopped going out to lunch all the time.

Dad came to terms with his death long before the rest of us did. He had accepted the possibility back when he was first diagnosed with cancer almost four years ago. He tried to talk the rest of us into accepting it, too. I didn’t want to even think about it, and I don’t think anyone else did, either. A week and a half ago, I still didn’t want to think about it. I still had hope that there would be some miracle, that he would get better. This was Dad we’re talking about, and he’d fought so hard and overcome so much already. Of course he would get better.

But he was just too tired. His body was too broken. There’s only so much one man can take. And when I saw him there in the hospital, so weak, in so much pain, I understood. As much as I didn’t want to lose him, it was worse to think of him suffering that way. One day he was talking in a whisper – I told him I loved him, and he told me he loved me – and the next day, he couldn’t speak, couldn’t relax, could barely open his eyes. And then I just wanted him to find peace. A few hours later, he did. He went home.

The world lost a good man. I lost a good dad. I’ll never hear him cracking his bad jokes at the dinner table again. I’ll never nod and smile as he tries to sway me to his political views that were the polar opposite of mine. I’ll never get to ask him all of those questions that I was waiting to ask him when he got better.

I love you, Dad, and I miss you so much.

Joe Jerome passed away early Saturday morning, June 7, 2014 after a long, hard battle with mantle cell lymphoma. He was many things to many people, but to me, he was my father. For everyone who couldn’t make it to his funeral service this morning, this is what I wrote to honor him.

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