Rest Easy, Dad

My dad passed away recently. As we know, grief can feel like a sledgehammer to the chest. We know that none of us are getting out of here alive, however this is something that can still feel like a complete shock to our system when we lose someone close to us.

Below are some of the words that I shared at my dads funeral.

This is Jeremy, John’s youngest child.  Dad had so many interesting and funny aspects of his life and i want to share a few that come to mind.

I have an older brother and sister. Jody and Heather, for those of y’all that know them, we know they are 2 of the coolest, kindest, most genuine and down to earth people that you could ever know. My dad shared these same qualities and I am blessed to be a part of the same bloodline. 

 Heather, Jody and I could have brought up to my dad that we wanted to build an 8 person go cart out of junk and drive it to the middle of the desert and then have a waterballon fight and then follow that up with some s’mores and bottle rockets. “Ok, that sounds like a blast, What do you say we start bright and early Saturday morning?” Dad was down for helping his friends and family, and often strangers,  and was always down for a good time.Jody, Heather, and I always joke about how dad would ask us to “play a little game”, this often meant chore time but he would put a positive spin on it. “Hey guys, let’s see who can pick the most weeds out of the the front yard in the next 10 minutes, it’ll be fun”.  “lets play a little game” has always been a joke in my family.

We all know that big John kept Diet Coke and peanut butter companies in business. I would give anything right now to hear my brother in law, Tyler, god rest his soul, and dad debate about diet sodas and how it would be a healthier choice if he drank more water. “Tyler, diet drinks are 75% water.” The look on Tyler’s face was priceless when dad would say that. Not that drinking more water wasn’t an important topic, but to hear them debate over this was classic, and we all know big John was going to do what he wanted at the end of the day. 

For decades, big john was a true outdoorsman. Dad and I took a trip to Alaska in 2007 with and my brother in law Tyler and his best friend John Goolsby. We camped out in the middle of nowhere, 600 miles from Anchorage, for several days. One day, the river was really rising and moving rather quickly, we had to cross it to get away from camp to go on our daily journey. One day we get to the edge of the water and dad said: “Jeremy, you and I don’t have any business crossing this river” he and I both knew damn well we weren’t gonna not give it our best shot. Even if that ended up being our last mistake on the planet, we were going to attempt it. I gently disagreed with him as we showed ourselves that we were more than capable and crossed the river, it was a challenge, but we leaned on each other and made it through. Dad was a good wingman a lot of the times and I hope he felt the same way about me. I feel that dad and I leaned on each other a lot in some tough times and I will try to keep his spirit with me always as I move forward. My Ocd journey has been difficult to say the least, and some of my dad’s characteristics have helped me push through to meet another day. He helped me embrace uncertainty in his own way.

Dad and I went to the car auction on occasion. One time we ended up getting a car. At the auction, you could start the car but you couldn’t test drive it. It was always an adventure filled with uncertainty with Big John, especially  the drive home if he ended up buying something. I followed him home that day and he drove the car we had just purchased.  Every few minutes, and at every stop light on the way home, he would give me the thumbs up to let me know we were good to go. The thumbs up meant to Keep going. There were other times when he would tow me home from somewhere. I would be in one of our broke down cars steering ,and he would be in the other car towing. The kind and gentle thumbs up weren’t really happening often in these kind of trips. There were countless times when he would tow me home and we would use something that we had no business using as a tow rope, it often broke. Maybe he hit the gas, and maybe I hit the brake at the wrong time, and our tow rope would snap like a twig.   He would often say something like “Jeremy, why don’t you call a buddy and ask them to help us get this thing home, then we can all go get something to eat, we’ll go wherever y’all want to.” There was always some kind of positive spin on it and dad usually showed appreciation for the help. When he said thank you, or I love you, he truly meant it. 

One time we were up late working under a car in the driveway. He had asked me to jack up the car so we could get underneath it. I start woking the jack and a few second laters you can hear liquid falling on the driveway and this curious smell of radiator fluid. I had jacked up the car on the radiator. We didn’t have the best of light out there, but it was still a huge mistake on my part. “Oh Jeremy, tell me you didn’t. Tell me you didn’t” We spent the next 3 hours doing everything we could to bend and patch that radiator so I could drive the car to school the next day. At one point in the long night, he screams a cuss word at the top of this lungs from underneath the car. He quickly explained that he wasn’t mad at me but he was just frustrated because his arms were tired. He and I both finished up the night with a great triceps workout . So, of course, the phrase ”oh Jeremy, tell me you didn’t”, this became a punch line between our family members. I was able to drive the car to school for two days before the radiator completely busted.  

He would often send me inside to ask the questions when we were going to pick something up, propane, a car part, etc. “Jeremy, tell them that John Rudd called yesterday and that I talked to a nice lady and she said that this wouldn’t be a problem at all.” The employee that I was dealing with often looked at me with a blank stare not knowing what the hell I was talking about when I would say this.  I was more than willing to help him with whatever I could. I am nowhere near as handy as Jody and dad. I always felt that those two could literally do anything they wanted in this area. Dad was great at making a way when it came to building or fixing stuff before his health started to turn. It often had a touch of Sid Rudd, his father, maybe some Jb weld, duct tape , maybe hope and a prayer,  these were often the things that held the situation together. Later on in life, it was often: “Jeremy, call Jody and ask him to slip some pants on and come over and help us. Jeremy this project could take you and I all weekend. Jody will come over and have it done in 15 minutes…. in the dark”,  or “Jeremy, call Heather, and ask her if she would be willing to help us with something for just a few minutes.” Dad’s face would often light up when he talked about Heather.  

About 35 years ago, I was just making small talk with dad about how cool it would be to have a halfpipe ramp to skate on.  A few weeks later, he and I took a trip to Bachman lake in  Dallas where they had a killer state park. We hung out for a bit and got some 2 dollar pamphlet on skateboard ramps.  So he and Jody just flat out built one a few months later. It was a work of art. Me and some other 9 year old friends carried stuff and may have driven a few nails, but the credit really goes to Jody and dad. Another example of dad spreading good vibes and wanting his child and other kids in the neighborhood to have some fun.

One night at home a few years ago, I was telling my wife and step children one of the many adventures that I had with big john. After they listened to my story that was probably filled with some laughter, a broken down car, and possibly Whataburger. My step son looked at me and said: “Jer, I like your stories.” It hit me like a ton of bricks. That meant more to me than I could ever explain.   I shared that with my dad when he was in the hospital a few months later.  He took the words right out of my mouth “Jeremy, that’s like something you would say to me.” He was exactly right. His stories and opinions and beliefs have filled my mind for the last 40 years. Dad was a member of toast masters and man could he speak and tell a story.  A lot of us have heard some of the same old stories over the years, but it’s amazing that he could tell one with the same interest and excitement like the situation had just happened the day before.

My dad often assumed the best about people. We have all heard him say”hey neighbor” to complete strangers. He went in with a positive direction, hoping that someone would respond with kindness and decency. I see this in myself daily and I will always be appreciative of this.  There is part of my brain that I call the “big John filter” ….me wondering about his opinion, or how he would handle a certain situation. “ Jeremy, I will tell you this, that is not how they would handle it at bell helicopter”.This is the name of the company where my dad worked for 40 years.   We all know what it’s like to be talking to our parents and we feel that they couldn’t be more incorrect about a particular situation. Even if I completely disagreed with him on something, I usually cared what he thought about it. He may have completely disagreed with me,  but he took the time to listen and usually gave a damn about what I was saying, even if he disagreed.  I often worried too much about particular situations and and he often wasn’t worried at all. We made a pretty good team by meeting in the middle. Whether that was checking our blood sugar or maybe adjusting our tone of voice just a little when we were dealing with complete strangers asking for help. I would often be overanalyzing a situation wondering how we were gonna get something done, or fixed. I would be running down there, and possibly overthinking our next move, where he would often casually walk down and get it figured out. 

One time my brother and I were helping him build something at his place in Glenrose, TX. Jody and I had an interesting conversation the day before about how old the earth might be. So that day, a few hours into our project, I decided to ask dad what he thought as far as how old  the earth might be. He stopped hammering the nail, made eye contact with me for the first time that day and said: “ I don’t know, maybe a million years old. We’ll Jeremy, better yet, who gives a damn.” Jody and I laughed until our stomach hurt. That was dad’s way of telling me to not overanalyze stuff that I will never have an exact answer on. 

A friend and I tried to drive dad’s 69 Oldsmobile convertible to our high school graduation. My friend knows his cars and he noticed the car was getting hot so we did a u turn and went back home to get a more dependable car. Several years later, my buddy brought this up and bragged on big John explaining that he was always wanting us guys to “make memories.” My friend was right on. From my earliest memories, Big John was trying to have a good time and he often wanted his family and friends to be a part of this. 

Dad and I have had countless great conversations over the years, some in the middle of the woods and some while he was in the hospital. A little over a year ago, he was in the hospital and we were talking about movies. We started talking about Tom Hanks. He and I, just like a ton of other people, are big fans of Tom Hanks. Tom is a fellow diabetic and he and I have the same birthday. Dad’s voice started to crack and he got tears in his eyes and said: “Jeremy, how could one man be so good at his craft? Tom hanks didn’t make a bad movie” When dad was talking about Hanks, It would immediately turn into a Kleenex commercial. Especially when he would talk about Tom hanks jumping on that huge floor piano in the movie “Big.” He looked at me like we are having the most important conversation in the world. And maybe for that moment, we were.  

One night my dad and I were riding together in an old sports car. It was quite the sight with us two in that tiny car. We could have started a fire because we were shoulder to shoulder for miles. Later that night we had pulled over for gas. He was in a great mood. We were talking about life and whatever at the gas pump and he says” Jeremy, when I die, you tell everyone that your Dad had a good time.” That was the understatement of the decade. Big John had a good time, that’s for sure.

My dad had 3 rules- nobody gets hurt, don’t tear anything up, and to have fun. I think all of us here have witnessed different aspects of this in big John. It may not have always been obvious from the outside looking in, but this was a real creed that he lived by.  I can see that in myself when I am trying to be a quality step dad. Seeing Broken glass on the street or the beach, this really got his blood boiling. “Jeremy, now what if some kid is walking barefoot and cuts their foot.” I couldn’t agree more and have said the same thing countless times. My dad often assumed the best about people. We have all heard him say”hey neighbor” to complete strangers. He believed in the golden rule.

I have spent a lot of time off Elliot Reeder road in Fort Worth. As many of you know, there is a row of junk yards there. I used to go there with him or a friend, and often alone, often looking for a used car part to keep a car running. One time a friend and I went through half a junkyard looking for a brake part. I also can remember being on top of a mountain of used tires in the rain that was at least 20 foot tall trying to find that used tire size for a trailer we had.  It looked like some kind of  cross fit exercise before cross fit was a popular term, it was an absolute disaster.  This was also before cell phones. So I would have to borrow the junkyard phone or go to a pay phone to call him at work to check in about the possible lack of progress I was making at the junkyard.  At Bell Helicopter, he would always answer “inventory management, this is John Rudd”. I would give him a summary of what was going on.  He would often encourage me to not give up, “Jeremy, go back out there and look around, I know they have a brake caliper for our Volkswagen. It’s out there somewhere Jeremy, just keep looking, this is a fairly common car, and I just can’t believe they don’t have one.” My angel of a mom often was the mediator and would attempt to make things better or maybe encourage dad to make a possibly more reasonable decision on our car repair goals.    

Dad would often lend a helping hand. He truly cared about helping others, especially if they were down on their luck. He influenced me in the area of not judging a book by it’s cover. We never completely know what someone is going through. As a counselor, I keep this in mind daily, regardless of what someone sounds like, what kind of car they drive , or where they live, we never really know what the complete picture is. I go in with unconditional positive regard and so did my Dad. Dad would give people the benefit of the doubt. He would go into situations with good intentions and fairness. Our chaotic world can seem so damn overwhelming at times, especially with this pandemic. I often think a situation could use a dose of big John. He would often help bring me back to the present and reiterate the basics, and try to keep it simple, which was often very helpful. “Jeremy, it really ain’t that big of a deal”, this was a common term that he would use to bring us back down to the reality of the situation. These conversations between he and I about coming back to the basics, they weren’t always filled with puppies and sunshine, but he often got his point across. 

For those of us that were lucky enough to see dad sing karaoke, wow that was really something. He would only sing one song, “What a wonderful world” by Louis Armstrong. He wouldn’t get on the stage, he would just go lean against it like he owned the place. It didn’t sound as flawless as Amstrong’s version, but man he gave it his all. We see these cliche slogans or signs in our society that often contain a lot of wisdom. The one that says sing or dance like nobody is watching, That was big John, he sang the hell out of that song and did it like no one was watching, he was cool with it either way. 

John Delano Rudd, the eagle scout, the story teller.  Husband, brother, a son, a dad, an uncle, a grandfather, a true friend, you were one of a kind. Your stories and spirit will always be with us until we join you on the other side. Thanks for everything, Dad, truly. We hope to see you again. 

Jeremy 

“And if you are offering me diamonds and rust, I’ve Already Paid.” Diamonds and Rust-Joan Baez, and covered by Judas Priest.

Not Forgotten

Today is the 4 year anniversary of my brother in law’s passing. Tyler was an incredible person and we were lucky to have him in our lives.

Brother, taking that next step or breath can feel next to impossible on some days. Some days I still have a hard time accepting that I can’t call you for some common sense and laughter. As I have said before, I try to be mindful of your spirit that is still present in our lives.

Seeing Jackson and Sydney smile is an awesome reminder of how much you mean to all of us. Watching Sydney on the soccer field is really something. Watching Jackson on a skateboard or bike is also very impressive. Their laughter and excitement will light up a room. We talk about you all the time.

We wish you were here, man. Thanks for everything that you were and still are. We look forward to seeing you again.
Jeremy


Self and others

Shout out to the ones that are in the struggle. Shout out to the ones who attempt to understand and help others along the way.

Let us try to make the best of the time we have. Even in the darkness of emotional and physical storms, we can still try to take it one breath at a time, and attempt to move into what we are about, what we want to spend our time doing. See the bravery inside yourself and please keep going.

Jeremy Rudd

So much hate, Since you cut me down, So much waste. – +Live+, Photograph

Discomfort Can’t Hold Us Back

Pain is temporary, because our life on this planet is as well. We know we can’t avoid pain and difficulty. It’s right here in our face, whether we want to admit it or not. Avoidance or trying to pretend it doesn’t exist, this path can turn pain into suffering. We can choose to move through the pain and avoid some of the suffering by accepting what is. We want to embrace and enjoy what we can, 10 minutes at a time. We can still make positive changes in our life, or show others kindness, even though our hearts and brains may be full of hurt and confusion. We want to hold onto the hope that things can get better. The journey tends to be less chaotic if we are mindful of what we Can and Can’t control.

Let us remind ourselves and others that we are not in this battle alone.

Let us take care of ourselves, and lean on each other when possible. Even in a storm, our choices can lead to positive change. Keep moving forward.

Jeremy Rudd

“Oh the distance, it makes me uncomfortable
Guess it’s natural to feel this way
Oh, let’s hold out for something sweeter
Spread your wings and fly” +Live+, The Distance

Forward

We see the pain in our world. Treating others how we would want to be treated seems to go a long way.

We all have things that we are dealing with, some more than others. Then the Covid situation may have added countless layers to the anxiety and familiar rumbling in our minds. A lot of us have done enough thinking for 7 lifetimes. We seem to “waste” less time feeding the emotional demons if we continue to push ahead in areas we care about. Of course this is way easier said than done with our current situation. So much of these areas have gone digital. Faith, family, work, school, therapy, friends, etc. Our skin may crawl in social situations, and our skin can crawl at home. We know we take our brain with us, and the familiar pull in our brain doesn’t care what time of day it is or what environment we are in. We know the familiar patterns. I am grateful that even in times of darkness, I am still able to remind the people in my life that I care about them and that I care about how they are doing. The physical and emotional pain I feel can be hard to describe at times, however I can still try to give my wife a compliment. Something this “small” may not feel like an easy thing to do when times are tough, but it’s doable.

Grateful to be able to listen to music that has helped me through the darkest parts of this journey. Grateful for movies or laughter that I can revisit. Grateful for this phone/computer thing in my pocket. Eventhough I would like to throw it off a cliff some days, it helps me connect with people and areas that I care about. Always keeping in mind those that may not have these options. Food, water, shelter, doctor visits, clean clothes, technology, etc. Remembering that countless individuals in our world may not have friends, family, or a place to call their own. Trying to be mindful that we never truly know what someone is dealing with.

As a person with OCD, as well as a therapist who specializes in OCD treatment, I know that embracing uncertainty is my best chance of being able to enjoy this life. I learned a long time ago that assuming, and thinking I could be mind reader, it was a dead end road. I try to keep this in mind as I continue and try to help others in their journey.

Some of us have been on the trail of managing our emotional health for years. We know with OCD, the quicker we embrace the gray areas and refrain from the rituals, the better chance we have for more peace of mind. The OCD, depression, anxiety, impulses, these things may already be taking up our time. Our time is our life. We can be in a really difficult spot and still do something meaningful with our time. This could be for 5 seconds or 5 hours. It all counts. We know we aren’t going to “cure” our life, we just try to manage it. Eventhough the mental health monsters are throwing things our way, this is still a day of our life. Doing something is better than doing nothing, attempting to not get stuck just feeding the OCD. Is there something I can do to make my situation better? Is there something I can do to help others? Obviously this is another chance to be mindful of what we want to stand for in this life. Maybe we work from home, maybe we FaceTime with Grandpa on Wednesdays, maybe we “smile” at others through a mask. In my opinion, we don’t regret the extra kindness that we pass on to others and ourselves. We want to keep pushing forward. We want to remind the monster in our brain that we are in charge. We are the one driving the racecar that is our life. Thoughts, images, urges, cravings, these things exist, but so do we. How we respond matters. We Can make changes to continue to manage our life, no matter how small these changes seem. We have done it before, we can do it again. It may not always look the same, however our goal can be the same. To keep living our lives in a valued direction and reminding ourselves of the strength that we have. TRULY, think what you have done in life that took real strength and guts, maybe no one else even knows about it, that’s ok. But you know about it! Use this as motivation to keep moving forward. Let us push ahead and try to show ourselves and others kindness on this journey.

Jeremy Rudd

Hope in the Now

Forgive me for the overly obvious statement. We are stronger when working together. Whether that is fighting the demons of emotional pain or fighting this virus, they go hand in hand. We know how crucial our mental health is in this battle. Please take care of yourself as much as possible and let us be mindful of how far love and kindness can take us on this super challenging journey.

Jeremy Rudd

“I am overcome.” Overcome- +Live+

AVOID DANCE??

The research tells us that purposely facing what we fear can be very beneficial. On purpose, we seek out these fears, and we respond differently. Thoughts, situations, images, or urges. If we head towards these without avoidance, we continue to teach our brain that we can handle the discomfort.

We know this tennis match in our brain makes it difficult to make decisions at times. Maybe I prefer a get together of 8 people versus 88? Maybe you would rather stay home and watch a movie versus going to a crowded restaurant? Maybe you don’t have any real interest of being on social media for more than 10 minutes a day? Am I avoiding out of fear, or is this really not your interest? Doing our best to find the balance as we accept that we will never get it perfect. This tormenting dance of push and pull. Should I do this? Should I have said that? I made the “wrong” choice! The obvious is, we will Never know if we made the “perfect” decision. Sometimes the situations we avoid cause us stress and worry and so we avoid them in the first place. We all probably know that feeling of crawling in our skin, until we leave early, escape out the back door, then to have that rush of relief pass over us. Is this a situation we care about? Even if we don’t enjoy what we are doing, is it a part of life that we really can’t avoid? Does avoiding it just make things 10 times worse? We know the rituals and avoidance are only temporary relief. We can expect the same thing next time as long as we stay in this avoidance dance. We don’t have a manual that will tell us the perfect choices to make at all times. We want to look at our values and goals and try to see how avoidance may be interfering with these. This could be brushing our teeth or applying for a job. We want to notice if avoidance makes the next situation worse, and what will we be doing to go after what we want in life. Exposure treatment, time with family and friends, school, work, creativity, etc.

It has been my experience, that the less ping pong I play in my brain, the less time I focus on whether I made the right decision or not. I will never know for sure if all my decisions are correct, and neither will you, embracing this reality can help lessen the struggle.

Let’s try to challenge ourselves, let us attempt to be kind to ourselves and others on this journey, as we try to “avoid” the decision dance.

“But it’s not my kind of scene” -My Kind of Scene, Powderfinger

In Memory

Just wanted to give a shout out to my brother in law, Tyler. We lost him to cancer 3 years ago today. We consider ourselves extremely blessed to have had a person like you in our lives. Passionate, loyal, consistent. An awesome son, brother, husband, father, a true friend.

Brother, we miss you and your goodness on this planet. I will always be in debt to you for your friendship and the blessing that you have been to our families. Your strength and spirit continues to shine here on earth and it always will. When the darkness of OCD or depression tries to rear it’s ugly head, I try to remember the Countless helpful words that you passed on to me. Your strength that you showed us all, it helps me to keep fighting the good fight.

Most all of us in life can know that feeling, when another step forward can seem damn near impossible. We know that having a support system can be crucial in this journey. Tyler was a Huge support for me and his memory helps me to keep moving ahead as I try to help others. We love you, BIL. We look forward to seeing you again. Veritas.

Jeremy Rudd

Appreciation

This is a common time of the year that people get together with family and friends, to eat, shop, fellowship, etc. One of my favorite things about this time of year is that people actually meet up in person. In this “social” media world we live in, Actually meeting with people in person is a great thing, in my opinion. Exchanging hugs and shaking hands, being able to talk with others, in person, can be a beautiful thing.

Obviously not everyone has the ability to be in person with their loved ones. Whether it’s too much Geographical distance, finances may not allow it, or maybe there is a conflict that has happened that hinders people getting together. As we know, not everyone has a place to go or call home. Some may call a shelter, or under a bridge, their home. Let us be thankful and appreciate what we do have and show genuine kindness to others.

We know that mental health struggles, chronic pain, medical conditions, these rarely take “time off.” OCD doesn’t give a damn what time of the year it is. If it can, it often involves itself in making your experience miserable, we know it will try regardless of what the calendar reads. The good news is that it seems to try less when we continue to lean into our fears and choose to not do the rituals.

We can also keep in mind that someone can be surrounded by friends and family and still feel like they are on fire on the inside. We know that depression, anxiety, OCD, as well as other related struggles, these experiences can be down right brutal to deal with. We may be able to keep the “facade” going in public, however let’s remind ourselves that we can choose to do something about the war in our head. Let’s lean on each other and ask for help if needed. Let us keep leaning into challenging ourselves, to keep the monster managed, as we enjoy our days as much as possible. Keep pushing forward.

Jeremy Rudd