**Forward: One year ago today, my daddy took his last breath and entered into eternal life. I originally wrote this tribute just a couple weeks after his passing, but I feel like today is a good day to share it again. Allow me to remember him for what he wanted to be remembered for most; a really, really great dad.**
It has been two weeks since my father passed away. I know that it is kind of heavy information to just blurt out at first, but it’s going to lay the ground work for what, I hope, is an amazing tribute to him and our beloved Wildcats.
My Dad, Kenneth Patterson, would point-blank tell you that the most important thing he ever did was become a Dad. Now, he may have never been the front runner for “Father of the Year”, but he was perfect for me. Since my parents divorced when I was pretty young, most of the time I spent with him came in the form of weekends that were entirely too short and some great, long weeks during summer break. He did not teach me about sports. My older brother, Kevin did. He taught me everything I know, including how to swing a Louisville Slugger and spiral a regulation-size football with tiny, nine year-old girl hands. However, when sports became a passion of mine, it was Dad who was in my corner. He was always in my corner in everything I did.
He was a listener, not just a hearer. For a motor-mouth like me, it was an invaluable asset to have a father who was always genuinely interested in what I had to say, no matter the subject matter. It was as if he hung on my every word as I would ramble on about recess on the playground when I was a child, my prom dress selection when I was a teenager, and most recently, the insane spring recruitment period for Cal and the Cats.
His unwavering, unconditional support was a trademark of his life, especially as a father. Never was this more evident than when Kevin was accepted and enrolled at the University of Kentucky. Thus began my and Dad’s love affair with the Wildcats. Dad, who never was really into sports, then never missed a game if it was on TV. He bought the t-shirts and the coffee mugs. He would get a game schedule poster and hang it on the wall, right next to the “Footprints in the Sand” picture. Dad and Kevin would talk about the team, the game, and how the season was shaping up. I would just listen and absorb. The two most influential men in my life had a passion for the school and its athletics. It’s only natural I would follow suit.
I have always loved to write, and of course, Dad was my biggest fan in that as well. Whether it was a short story, a newspaper article, or an op-ed piece, he would read it intently and then discuss it with me just before he’d rant and rave about how excellent it was, even if it wasn’t excellent at all. So, when I was given the opportunity to write at Kentucky Sports Unlimited (and now for for CameronMillsRadio.com), you would have thought that I had just landed a job big at ESPN if you could have heard him tell the story. Although he was proud of my homemaking lifestyle as a stay-at-home wife and mom, he was so excited that I now had a real platform for my writing. When having a chat with strangers, which he often did with his friendly personality and disposition, he would inevitably bring up his children within the first few minutes of conversation. He would run down the list of us four kids, and when he’d get to me, it would sound something like this:
“Now, Kristin, she’s the baby from my first marriage. Her husband makes a good living so she stays at home with my little grandson, and he’s my namesake, ya know? That little booger. He’s papaw’s little buddy. Anyway, she’s also a sports writer and writes about University of Kentucky sports. She has a Twitter thing on that ol’ internet thingamajig and she talks about UK games on that, too. That’s my baby. I’m real proud.”
Since his passing, my siblings and I have been cleaning out his apartment. You would be amazed of all the things he kept; my wedding invitation along with party favors from the big day almost nine years ago, graduation programs from all of our commencement ceremonies, hundreds of photos of us kids throughout the years, small crafts we made him when we were just kids, and I’m pretty sure that he never threw away a single birthday or Father’s Day card we ever gave him. It was all simply more evidence that we were the center of his universe and adored just a little more than we ever realized.
Although Dad took great care of us, he didn’t take great care of himself. So, when mortality came knocking at his door at sixty-nine years of age, options were slim at that point. He had faced battle after battle with his health over the last year. As a woman of faith, I prayed for a miracle, but I also kindly asked God if that wasn’t in His divine will, please just take him home. That’s exactly what He did on June 23rd, 2015.
God knows I miss him terribly, but would not wish him back here for anything. He’s safe in the arms of his Savior. Plus, he gets to hear Cawood call the games now from a heavenly cloud that overlooks Rupp Arena. Heaven is a divine extension of the Big Blue Nation, right?
Dad, thanks for being all that you were. You were the best I could’ve asked for and I’m thankful, if even just for a short twenty-eight years, that you were mine. I miss you and I love you more than words can say. Save a place for me. See you when I get there.
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