After a tough battle with cancer, my daddy aka Daddy TDJ here on the blog, went home to be with the Lord. In my best moments, I smile and imagine that upon his transition, he was greeted by a host of family and friends, including my dear husband.
The services for my father, Thomas A. Dunn Jr., were held this past Saturday and I was compelled to write something. Since then, several people has asked me to share my words, so I’ll post them below.
“Good morning everyone,
My name is Taya Alissa Dunn Johnson, the only child of Renee and Thomas A. Dunn Jr.
Does anyone remember that commercial where the daughter and father were performing a cheerleading routine together? How about the instagram photo that went viral a few months ago of a father doing his daughters hair? Those images seemed to shock so many, but not me. Those images reminded me of the best parts of my childhood. The idea of the active, involved father was my normal.
My parents raised me in a household that was filled with love, respect, open communication and togetherness.
Riding a motorcycle with him at age 2? Yup.
Braiding my hair before school? Yup, my daddy.
Sitting in chairs half the size of his body to attend imaginary tea parties? Yup, my pops.
Family game night and chinese take out once a week? Yup, my family.
As close as I was to my mother, I was truly Daddy’s little girl, from birth until the day my daddy passed away.
Growing up as an only child allowed my mother, father and I to build an airtight bond that deepened through the years.
My father has always been at my side, for my highest victories and my lowest defeats. He was the kind of man that provided for his family in word and deed. He would help you in any way you needed, and definitely find a way give you a hard time about it later.
My father had the kind of personality that made you want to meet him, laugh with him, choke him, hug him, slap him, then laugh again while wondering when you would see him again. He had a way of making everyone feel like they were instant friends. His voice, his smile and his laugh pulled you in and endeared him to you within seconds. Every friend I ever brought home adopted my parents as their own.
When my parents divorced, I didn’t feel the same type of hurt that most children feel. Not to say that I wasn’t hurt, but I knew that my world would be ok. I was surrounded by love in a way that some people never experience. My two families were much more like one huge family that included neighbors, friends, co-workers and strangers. My parents experienced a brief period where there friendship was strained, but ultimately, love conquered all.
The death of my husband two years ago shook my family to its core, especially my close, immediate family. My father, my mother, my mother’s partner Katheryn and I were dazed and grief stricken. The tragedy allowed the four of us to rely on one another in ways we never imagined. And at the core, the love that my parents instilled in me from birth was present. We worked to help one another heal and we worked together for my son Marcus. Over the year and a half, my father was ill and recovered in our home. And when I say “our home”, please understand that I’m referring to the house in which I live along with my mother, her partner Katheryn, and my son Marcus. I watched my mother’s partner open her heart and our home to my father and I saw love. I watched my mother care for my father during his dying days and I saw love.
I thank God for the 62 years that my father lived and I appreciate the father that he was to me. From the moment of Marcus’ birth, I’ve been thankful for the grandfather that he was. Although I disappeared a little, watching the love that my father gave to his grandson showed me another side of him as a man.
Many have called me strong and I know that a great part of that comes from the great man who was my father. Rest in peace Daddy. I love you now and forever. I hope I continue to make you proud.”
Thomas A. Dunn Jr.
Sunrise – March 9, 1952
Sunset – July 4, 2014