My brother Jordan Andrew Kimball is three years younger than I am. (My wife and I named our son Jordan after my brother.) Together with my sister Mary, Jordan and I made up the amiable middle trio of the seven children in my family growing up. Jordan appeared in this blog before in "Tyler Cowen on My Little Brother Jordan's Wisdom." Below is Jordan's tribute for my Dad, which completes the set of seven tributes that my siblings and I gave at the Memorial Service for my Dad on December 3, 2016. You can see my own tribute here tribute and in other posts those of my brothers Chris and Joseph and of my sisters Paula, Mary and Sarah. My Dad's colleague Jack Welch also gave a tribute that you can see here.
Here are Jordan's words:
Growing up I thought my father was a righteous man, but not a pious one.
I remember, as a boy, working with my father in his workroom, building a pinewood derby car together. He hit his thumb with a hammer and exclaimed "Damn!!" After sucking his thumb for a moment, he looked me in the eye and said, "You know, "Damn" is a perfectly good swear word.”
I grew up admiring my father and wanting to be just like him. But when I was 13 I started to fear I would never measure up. I remember reading an essay in a Junior High class which described "the platinum professions" as medicine and the law and I took it as a binary choice, so I become a doctor. But this was my own anxiety, because I don't ever remember my father placing any burden of expectation on me, other than to simply be good.
When I was 15, I tried my father's patience. A few days after my father's Aunt Mary died, the family was getting ready to attend her funeral. I was standing at the top of the stairs, in shorts, and my father, in a towel, having just showered, asked if I was getting ready. I told him "No", and added that I didn't want to waste my time driving to a funeral in Salt Lake. My father said we were going as a family and that attending funerals matters to those close to us. He asked me to get ready even if I didn't feel like it. Then I said something with teenage indignation that I've regretted, "Well, she won't care, she's dead!” In response to this outburst my father, only sounding a little exasperated, said, "We don't attend funerals for those who have died. We attend funerals for those who are still living.” The 15 year old me continued resisting, not seeing how my attendance made any difference.
Then my dad calmly said, "Son, it would make a difference to me. Would you please get dressed, and go for me?" I looked at his face and saw love in his intelligent eyes, and I quietly went down to my room and got ready. When I took my seat in the car, he said simply, "Thank you." I have marveled at his patience and gentle persuasion.
My father was an enthusiastic sports fan, especially when his own kids participated. I ended up playing several sports and it seemed to me that my dad was always there when we competed. He could be counted on to be reading, and underlining a law journal in the between times. He could also be counted on to cheer unreservedly from the stands, "Go, Kimball!!", "Atta boy!
Jordan!". Although my father’s polio had limited him athletically, the father I grew up with had an awesomely powerful upper body he always said was from miking cows. We still all marvel at the size of the metal bracelet he wore as a teen. It may have been one of the reasons he seemed to particularly enjoy that his sons wrestled in high school.
I remember exploring the items in the top desk drawer of my dad's home office. One item in particular, a bunch of pencil stubs in a rubber band, is memorable. When I told him they looked useless and asked why he didn't just throw them away, he said that they were not his, they belonged to the law school. Occasionally he took a bundle of them back to school. It always makes me smile to think of this quiet gesture of frugality and honesty.
The father I knew didn't like travel, but my mother loved to travel. Early in his career, my father became involved in writing multi-state bar exam questions. The diverse group of lawyers and professors had to meet someplace, and this became the vehicle for a twice yearly, paid trip, allowing my parents to travel all over the country together, big cities, vacation spots, working and socializing, and as their kids got older, they would extend the trips a few days and drive all over the local countryside, just the two of them. It is one of the most romantic memories I have of my parents, together, being able to find a way to combine their interests and enjoy each others company.
You may have noticed my bow tie, and others. Bow ties became my father's preference. My last interaction with my father was shortly after he died at home last week. I helped dress his body.
I sat him up, and leaned his back against my chest and tied on his white bow tie. I am not used to tieing a bow tie on someone else and I fumbled a number of times before even getting close to getting it right, eventually tugging and pulling it gently into an acceptable shape. This may be a metaphor. Even in death I could feel my father's love and patience.