Once again, State Fair time has come and gone and as always we made sure that we purchased our annual Shriner's photo button. I will scan and post this year's image very soon, but today I am going to share a personal narrative family essay that John wrote about our annual tradition, specifically how much it meant to him the year Andy died.
Every fall since 1987, it has been a family tradition in my family to go to the State Fair of Oklahoma and get our picture taken at the Indian Shrine Clown photo booth. That tradition was on the line in 2002 and I was full of concerns. Would the tradition be condemned because Dad had passed away at the beginning of that year? Would I be ready to take the picture without him by my side?
It was a beautiful warm and breezy September day. It was the day to spend at the fair. I was so ready to get through that gate into the sea of excitement and good spirit that the fair brings the state year after year.
“The whole gang is coming; we can’t go just because you’re ready.” Mom reminded me as I mercilessly nagged to leave. Before we left she decided that everyone would wear one of Dads hats in memory of him. She assigned me the job of passing them out. As I handed them to Shelby, Bear, Kelly, Mom, Uncle Terry, Lesley, Kendy, Chris, and Logan; each hat brought back memories of better times. When I stepped back and looked at everyone smiling I knew everything would be alright.
On the way I buried myself in thoughts. My mind was overflowing with questions and worries.
“It’s not going be the same without him” I repeatedly told myself. I knew how much this meant to him so I was overwhelmed, as well as terrified that it wouldn’t go like he would have wanted it.
I knew we were almost there as soon as I could see the space needle towering in the distance. I was running short on time to collect my thoughts. “What am I going to do?”
We pulled into the gate 23 parking lot and parked in the paid section. I knew that meant it wouldn’t be long until we were in. As I handed my ticket to the taker I decided it was time to suck it up and snap to reality. When I got through the gate I looked left and right but I couldn’t decide which way to go. Instead of wasting time contemplating, I just went with my first instinct and went right. Reflecting back on that now I regret that decision because the booth was right around the corner to left. That being the case, it wasn’t until we walked completely around the grounds that I saw a clown blowing up a balloon animal. My eyes lit up and without even thinking about it I dashed as fast as I could to the booth. I was so excited that I didn’t even stop to think that my whole family wasn’t running as well. I had to wait as they lollygagged their way over to the booth. Mom and I gathered everyone together on the side of the booth because there were too many of us to take the photo inside.
Limbo the clown came out with the camera and asked “Is everyone ready?” “Say Limbo!” I had to squint as he snapped the picture because I the sun was blaring down on the side of the booth. I knew that wherever Dad was he had a grin on his face because it went exactly how he would have wanted it.
The rest of the night was fun, but nothing could compare to the perfect picture and a tradition perfectly kept alive by love and devotion by my family and our love for Dad. Even still the tradition is kept alive for him, and every year we take something to represent him in the picture. Our newest picture was taken on 9-26-2010. Dad will never be forgotten and he will always be my hero. A tradition should never die because someone is no longer with us.