He was the step-dad of a very close friend whom I met in college, and remain very good friends with. Rod was that guy you loved to sit around with. He would don a hawaiian shirt, no matter the occasion. He'd have a cigar close by... a "brown liquor drink" and usually his guitar.
He liked a good time, and yes, after-hours Pancake/Waffle joints.
He taught us how to play roulette on his genuine eBay-purchased board. He mastered the art of saying "No More Bets" as the wheel would spin it's final rounds.
It wasn't until after college, when I realized that he was much more influential, than I could ever know. When I entered the world of TV news, I realized Rod was quite the politician. But even more than that -- a pretty bad-ass writer that I could look up to. He had a way with words, hence how good he was in politics.
His funeral was more emotionally draining than I could ever imagine. I had quite the back-stock of saline saved up.
Hearing his son talk about growing up with a dad like Rod was pretty amazing. I can't even imagine being able to face those people and actually tell funny stories about your parent that has passed.
I'm glad I went. It gave me the perfect opportunity to reflect on how Rod changed my life. And of course I wanted to be there for a very dear friend who lost a father, and her mother, who lost someone who WAS her life for so very long.
In that same day I got to spent a short amount of time with a friend's child who was days away from turning one.
Saying goodbye to a male figure I grew to love, and wishing a first Happy Birthday to another male who I have already grown to love.