On 24 November, 2019, we lost Clifford Lee Ayers. He went to meet his maker, joined the Choir Invisible, or Shuffled off this mortal coil, as many of us Pythonites might say. I say all that in humor, because I fully believe that he would be laughing with me about it.
Cliff, or Pop as I always called him, was not anyone special or fantastic in a global sense. He did not win any major awards, there will never be a statue or plaque erected in his honor. His passing was quiet, peaceful, without event.
But let me tell you about my experience with the man…
In the late 1980s, when I started dating the woman that would become my wife, I remember the first time I met Pop. He was not easy on me. He was kind, but he was critical of me, as any good father should be. He took apart my dreams and thoughts for the future and was quick to make me second guess everything, many times making me feel foolish for some of the dreams I had.
Sometimes he would have me help him around the yard or, a fond memory now, but not so much back then, he would drive me out to the almond orchards with him and have me help cut down dead trees to take home for use as firewood. Only catch was that while he would use a chainsaw, he would have me use a manual saw.
As the years went on, and he saw that in spite of his tests and trials I was in for the long haul, he started going easier on me. We started doing things together and, through the years, I grew closer to him that I had ever been with my own father.
Clifford, Pop, became an important part of my life, someone I could talk to when I needed to have a ‘Guy Talk’ with someone and eventually he even started talking to me as someone he could confide in.
I learned a lot from Pop, he was an inspirational part of my life, I loved him as much as, possibly more than, I loved my own, biological, father.
He will be sorely missed and I can say with honesty that my life is better for his presence in it.
Godspeed Dad… I love you and miss you.