We lost a great dad this week. His name was Steve Caffey.
When I first saw Steve, probably at Christmas in 1992, I thought, “Wow, that guy needs to wash his hands.” Then I learned he was a mechanic, and realized he probably had washed them more times that day than I would wash mine in a week.
I also learned that he had a youthful energy many his age could only hope to possess. At family holidays, he constantly interacted with children — his own and others’. He made them smile, and they returned the favor.
When my wife and I had a child of our own, I started understanding Steve a little better — why he rolled around on the floor with the kids, and played peekaboo.
It was because he loved being a dad.
I spent some time with Steve outside family holidays. I saw his Coca-Cola collection and the animal sculptures he created with concrete and incorporated into parts of their fence. I saw cannibalized remains of laptop computers in various states of disrepair.
He always had his hands in something, but there was nothing like watching him under the hood.
The few times I stood watching him work on my car, it was obvious he knew what he was doing. He was skinny, but deceptively strong. He could quickly reach and work on parts when others might have to spend hours clearing a path. He could tell me in about two minutes what was wrong with my car, if that long.
One time I rode in his truck with him to take Stephanie to a friend’s house. He spoke of his colorful past, which I won’t try to repeat here. I’ll just say that we both ended up starting sentences with “back in my day..” and sounded like old men, but his stories were much more interesting than mine.
Through all that, I still feel like I only caught a glimpse of who Steve was. During the last several visits to Tulsa, I didn’t see him, but I saw his and Johnna’s children. When they were babies I wasn’t very interested, but now they’ve become some of my favorite folks, always warm and welcoming.
Just like Steve.
His children have set up a site to raise money for the funeral services. If you can help at all, it would be hugely appreciated.