by Tyler Adams
Dear Sam, Max, and Baylee,
Does it get easier? Hell no. Does it get harder? That’s a much better fucking question.
I’m done cussing now (you know this is a lie). I’ve proved my point. I guess I’m telling you to brace yourselves. This never gets “easier.” It becomes more familiar and less shocking, but no less devastating. There was only one person that would ever mean as much to us as Mom does, and that’s him.
Why am I typing this? I’m not sure if this is more for you guys or for me. I’ve never met my biological father, and frankly I don’t care to. Nobody will ever stand a chance of measuring up to who my Dad is. Sometimes I feel jealous of the three of you, that you get to brag about being of our Dad’s bloodline, and the only thing that I have on you guys is my memories with him. How fucked up is that? It’s a human feeling, but the four of us couldn’t be more blessed than we are to come from him. Every year that passes, I feel his absence just a little bit more, and I imagine that you guys grasp the void that is there a little bit more as well.
Who was our Dad? Well, go ahead and ask Mom, and she’ll give you a great answer. But I’ve come to realize that nobody on Earth can tell you what it’s like to have Roger Leeroy Adams Jr. as a father better than I can, so I’m going to embrace that. What I’m about to tell you aren’t stories or exaggerations, they’re real life memories that actually happened.
- If you’re wondering what’s wrong with Sam. It’s the fact that Dad was running side by side with me as I ran into the end zone for my first tackle football touchdown when I was nine as he held Sam in his arm, and our brother looked just a little bit like a bobble-head.
- He never took a poop that he felt was too strong to not keep the door open and have a conversation with whoever was in the hallway.
- Holding the Playstation controller just a little bit higher in the air and to the right, with your tongue out like Michael Jordan, would make you 50% better at the game you’re playing.
- How many times can you throw a baseball or football with your son in the backyard until your shoulder gives out? He took the answer to that question with him, he found out many times. And he always wanted to keep going, but it was either time to eat (Mom’s cooking always took precedence, deservedly so) or too damn dark to see the ball.
- After my High School football games, Dad would be in the parking lot waiting in his white Chevy Lumina (my first car) while Mom brought you brats home. I’d hop in the car, and more often than not, his first words were, “You guys sucked tonight, huh?” Yes Dad, we did. I still knew that I didn’t have a bigger fan than him.
- We were in that Chevy Lumina together very often. I always wanted to listen to pop music, he wanted to listen to country music. We compromised on 106.5 classic rock. He played air guitar. I played air drums.
- I posted this on Facebook. Dad would regularly play tackle football with my friends and me (from age 10-17) in our yard at Shamrock. One sideline was the chain link fence, the other sideline was the road. Tavon, who was my neighbor/extended brother from age 11 to this day, said “bro he wouldn’t even take it easy! We had to choose between him or the fence!” That’s not a lie.
- Nobody could hold their breath underwater longer than Dad.
- I felt like a badass when I was a 17 year old football player, as most do. Dad was as competitive as they come, and of course I grew up wanting to be like him more than anything. I finally surpassed him on the bench press before his last deployment, and I felt like he was in my rear view mirror. A little while after he died, one of his brothers overseas wrote to us that he had finally caught up to me, and was waiting until he got home to show it off. We were both benching 225 pounds, in case you guys want something to aim for.
- On the topic of feeling like a badass 17 year old football player, Dad and I would take jogs together regularly from age 15-17. He dusted me every time no matter what.
- Okay last story about me playing football. In his last game that he was able to attend (we knew this would be at the time as well as he’d be deploying for a year plus after), I caught a one-handed 70 yard pick 6. Pretty cool right? It felt like there were a million people there cheering. At the same time, it felt like it was just me and him. I pointed to him as soon as I crossed the goal line and we managed to lock eyes from 100 yards away. He was the first person that I hugged after the game.
- I remember one specific occasion, when I was around 8 years old, living on base, I asked Mom if I could play video games. She said no. I saw that Dad was mowing outside, so I slowly dipped out there and glided over to him. He shut off the mower and asked me what’s up. Naturally, he approved the request that Mom had just denied 45 seconds prior. I got in trouble, but I learned that sometimes Dad did know best.
- He killed nine copperhead snakes at our home/yard there one summer.
- Do you know how in NBA 2k, when you’re playing first to 21 but you have to “win by 2….” yet if you get to 25 first you win either way? Dad didn’t play that shit. We played real life games of 21 that would last over an hour, tackling and goal-tending were considered just as much a part of the game as a jump shot and a layup.
- When I was in 7th grade I got caught in a rip current at the beach with Mom and Dad and a few of my friends. I was the weakest swimmer. If Dad didn’t come and get me out of the water, I may have been a goner. He also successfully performed the Heimlich on our next door neighbor in our backyard one day when they were choking on sunflower seeds.
- Mom could likely tell this story a little bit better. I was a huge Power Rangers fan as a kid. Even though I was a child at the time, I’ll never forget how beautiful Mom and Dad’s wedding was. It was snowing and all of our family was there. Before either the wedding or the reception (party after the wedding), I lost a piece to one of my dumbass Power Rangers villain toys. Dad held up the festivities (Mom was pumped about this) to help me try to find it in the snow. Maybe we found it, maybe we didn’t, but that’s less important.
- One of my favorite stories ever. Dad had a Madden 2005 season mode that he’d play at night. He’d have the controller in his hands but he’d let me call the plays. As much as I’d beg him to play on “All Pro” difficulty, he insisted on playing on “Pro.” One day while he was at work, I secretly logged into his season mode and changed the difficulty to All Pro, just to prove a point. He ended up winning his game that night in overtime! “Wasn’t that fun?!” I asked. “Yeah it really was” our Dad responded. “I changed it to All Pro difficulty before the game…” Dad responded, “…..” He never played another game on “All Pro.”
I could keep going but if this is much longer than three pages, you probably wouldn’t want to read it. I wouldn’t if I were in your shoes. I wish that we could be together today and for this six-week stretch, but I’m so excited that we’ll be together for it next year. I have a very unique relationship with our Dad, and I’m so happy to have these memories. He would have loved you guys exactly the same, or even better, as we all tend to grow to be better at what we’re good at with time. I’m lucky to have these memories to share, but you three need to always remember that there were so many times that he looked at each of you directly in the eyes and saw himself in you. It’s up to us to continue his legacy.
There is one major thing that I’ve realized as I grow older and reach milestones as an adult. Mom is absolutely the most important person in our world, and there is nobody better equipped than she is to guide us to where we need to be. Still, I’ll always feel the void of not having the dominant male figure/adult in my life to feel the praise from, and it sucks sometimes.
I’ve recovered a portion of that from certain male figures in my life, and you guys will find that as well. But I want to express how much it means to me and matters to me that you guys have me to depend on for that, and that a lot of what you’ll get from me is an extension of our Dad. You guys will always have me to rely on and lean on, but this is a job that will take more than myself, it’s up to the 4 of us to be that for each other. I can’t wait to have you guys near me again. Our success is each other’s success from here on out, there’s no better way for us to honor our Dad.