I spent the 2016 holidays as I normally do - relaxing at my parents dream home, nestled along the shores of beautiful Kootenay Lake. Really though, who wouldn't? Being such close proximity to the mountain-town of Nelson BC makes it an easy choice each year when the Christmas season rolls around. This year was similar in a lot of ways with most of our time spent up at Whitewater - the local ski hill, on the local hiking trails, on the couch getting some R&R, or around the dinner table laughing and conversing with our family. New Years Eve came quick and optimism of the "fresh start" for 2017 rejuvenated our spirits.
Family - this is where this post truly begins. 3 weeks ago as I shredded waist-deep powder alongside my brother and father, my thoughts couldn't give you a sad word or negative image even if I tried. Fast forward to today, and all we feel is a large hole left in the wake of our father's unexpected passing. Our beloved father, Danny Rickaby, passed away from a massive stroke at age 58 - too soon by all standards. None of us saw it coming; blindsided and shocked are the only words remotely accurate to our feelings. The otherwise healthy man could not have predicted it himself. As we now mourn our fathers passing, so many things become evident. Some of them even torture, that an experience like this is what it takes to remind us the fragility of life on this earth. In a shocking way, I'm grateful for the aftermath I have experienced so far - my family has always been exceptionally close, but this tragedy seems to only have brought us closer. So many nuances of my father's beautiful personality I took for granted on so many levels. Now they appear as highlighted text as I reminisce over past memories and now cognitively try to replicate them.
A Tribute to Dad.
The guy truly gave a shit. When he saw people he actually wanted to hear what they had to say, and wanted to hear their story. Not just say hello in passing and keep to himself, but he truly enjoyed the personal engagement far more than any person I've ever met. Us "boys" (myself and my two brothers) would often chirp our old man for his random conversations he would have with complete strangers. Whether someone on the street, in a restaurant, or in the Nike corporate store he was genuinely interested in having a conversation with people that meant something on a deeper level. He had a way of learning about people and impacting them in a short period of time; quickly elevating conversation past small-talk. His compassion for people truly leaves a mark on my soul.
He was respected. I grin as I type this and several inside jokes whirl around my head, but he was hugely respected in every avenue of his life. Maybe it was his rise from leaving home at the age of 15 to the success he achieved as a business man? Maybe a combination of it all. Or most importantly, maybe it was the respect that he gave everyone else until proven otherwise.
He was fearless. No task was too large and no amount of competition was too much for Downtown Dan. His business mind and savy to compete was unparalleled. As the saying goes... "Zero f***s given" was his unspoken mantra when it came to himself of other people's opinions. I've never seen anybody walk into so many unfamiliar situations only to walk out the other side making the expert, feel as if they didn't know what they were doing. Our adventures in our 4x4's being a prime example; ask me about the first trail he ever drove his Tacoma on! The guy owned everything he did, he was fearless. A boss.
Above all, he loved his family. Not in the casual and required sense but in the deepest way imaginable. He put us (my brothers and my mother) above all else. We were never left wanting materially or in a measure of guidance. He knew when to show us "tough love", when to embrace us, and was ALWAYS there for us when we needed his support the most. He managed to instill a true sense of values and respect in all of us. I am proud to be his son, and consider all of us boys "proper" amongst the mass of disrespect that plagues society today. A family man through and through.
I must admit, my outlook for 2017 isn't as optimistic as it was a mere three weeks ago. However, I am proud to say that Danny Rickaby was the perfect father and the perfect mentor. When my turn inevitably comes, I can only hope to be remembered as even half the man my father was. You taught us so many things Dad: to laugh, to enjoy, to struggle, to overcome, and to love. Thank you for all that you've done and all that you preached, for your memories will live on through us. See you in heaven pops, we can't wait :)
Here's to a 2017 full of adventures and breaking new ground. For you old man.
- Addison Rickaby