I’d like to first take a moment to thank all the family and friends…and left-handed people for coming today to honor my Dad, Stephen Liadis.
What can you say about my Dad? There are so many things really. Let’s start with what you would call him because that defines him as much as anything. To a select few of us he is Dad, or Hubby, or Papou or Father-in-Law. To others he was “Steffer” or coach, or Mr. Liadis. For a very brief period of time I hear he was even called Suzy. But to all of us he was “friend”.
What I’ve heard mentioned most in the past few days is his smile. I was always a little jealous that he had such a great smile in pictures. Meanwhile when I try to smile for pictures it comes across more like I just farted or something. But it was easy for him because smiling was just his natural state. I realize this now.
We played so many games of 1-on-1 basketball together, spent so many hours playing catch in the road in front of the house or in the backyard, traveled to so many baseball card conventions and visited so many baseball card shops. Current days he sat beside me at church, sat (or stood) beside me at the kids’ soccer matches, and sat beside me at family dinners. We even coached a U8 soccer team together a few years ago. We spend so much time together, yet it doesn’t feel like enough. I want more.
Ok, I promise I’ll be done soon. I just wanted to tell a few of my favorite Dad stories. I promise these are all true.
- One time he was coaching Christa’s youth basketball team. He wore his running shoes and I guess they had too much traction and they wound up causing him to severely dislocate his ankle. It was so bad that the doctor’s had to pass around a “manual” to determine how to fix it. But what sticks out to me was when we saw him after surgery and he was still woozy and he had this huge smile on his face and he said “my eyebrows feel heavy”.
- We took the 3 hour drive to Pittsburgh together the three times in the 90s the Pirates made the playoffs. Yes there was a time when the Pirates made the playoffs. I remember on the way home him blasting the radio, AC, and rolling down the windows to stay awake. I had to stay awake to “watch for deer”.
- My Dad was a very faithful Christian but still my Dad. He used to whisper various “inventions” to us at times. His big one was flavored communion wafers. BBQ and Cool Ranch were to of his best ones. I think this could’ve caught on. His other invention was “edible Velcro” to keep those top most fruits in the fruit cups that the church sold at Houtzdale days.
- As I said earlier we used to drive on Saturdays to the Comic Swap which is located in downtown State College. One time we went during a home football game. He had on his Mo Valley baseball cap he got from coaching. It was yellow/gold with a big “M” on the front. Some guy, probably drunk, got on his case for being a Michigan fan. I’m pretty sure Dad just laughed, which was his most used defense mechanism.
- He jogged most of my life. In Summers he would go out jogging and I’d ride my bike along with him. Back then his go-to running gear were plain gray t-shirts. He didn’t want some big fancy logo on there and give Nike or somebody free advertising.
- Say a little prayer, or give your business to Rapid Transit, the local shoe shop where he got his shoes. He got a lot of shoes there. But he wore every one of them.
- One final one. We had a bat in the house one time. Mom wasn’t home (this is a KEY detail in the story). We didn’t know what to do. And so in July, with no central air in the house, my Dad and I put on our winter coats and gloves, him a hat, me an old football helmet, and went to battle armed with a tennis racket and nerf football. No bats were harmed (at least not fatally) in the making of this memory.
In conclusion thank you all for being here for all of us. If I could ask one more thing of you it would be to continue to tell stories about my Dad. Even now when it hurts to tell the story and even later when it hurts slightly less. Keep his memory alive. And this one is for me, don’t forget to smile.