You know that friend whose house everyone hung out at? Whose parents eventually became like second parents to everyone? Dad passed a couple of weeks ago. We celebrated his life today. It was bittersweet. Dad, Mr. Harris, James, Jim, he was such a large, kind, gentle, stern man. As I sat in the church listening to his brother and sister speak about him, listened to others in the congregation whose lives were forever made the better because of him, I remembered how scared I was of Dad when I first met him.

1779944_10152689701178527_7071600035769342033_nJohn, Debbie, Tim, Dad, Mom.

I meet David Harris in ninth grade, when we joined Police Cadets. We started dating and that’s when I met his parents. My first encounter with Mr. Harris was the nightly ritual where he’d come home, one of the kids was in trouble, and he would be the disciplinarian. Mr. Harris was a big man. He had the most amazing, booming voice. When he yelled, or maybe he was just talking sternly, it carried, and frankly, scared the bejeezus out of me. My memories of early Mr. Harris were fearful. I learned when we’d go to David’s house after school, to leave before Mr. Harris got home.

But I grew up. I joined David at Faith Presbyterian church where his family was and is very involved. I interacted with Dad and discovered his gentle side. I could talk to him, though I mostly I still talked to Mom. He introduced me to a new form of music, Barbershop Quartet. Some nights we would hang at David’s house and play cards. Before the night was over, David and his Dad would bring out the guitars and everyone would sing.

Mr. Harris became Dad when mine moved out-of-state. When my mother passed away at the end of my junior year in high school, I turned to the Mom and Dad. The Harris family became my family. I love each of them like family.

Eventually I married, not David, The Harris’ were at my wedding. Mom helped me plan everything. Dad was the one I asked, had my own father not been able to attend, to give me away. He agreed, with some snarky comment about trying to give me away for years.

Had I lost contact with them over the years? Sorry to say yes I had. My regret. But over the last few, I’d stopped by a couple of times. Not enough.

Jim Harris was a larger than life part of my childhood. He always had a warm smile and a hearty laugh. He could cook and he could sing and he lifted everyone he came in contact with. He will be missed.