Fifteen months ago, August 2019, just six months after our brother’s passing, my sister, Dena and I ￼lost our dad, David Haas, 78, this afternoon.
June 20, 1984, my younger siblings, Dena, 11, Destin, 9, and I, 19, were adopted by our step-father, David Haas, who had been my brother’s Little League baseball coach and a neighbor of my mother while growing up in Elwood, Indiana.
With each bang of Judge Carroll’s gavel in his private chambers of the Madison County (IN) Court Building, I legally became Darin L. Jolliffe-Haas, my siblings, Dena Haas and Destin Haas. My eldest Haas sister, Autumn, leaned forward over my shoulder to assure me I was officially “a Haas’ ass.”
That previous December, Mother married Coach Haas who had referred to me as a son for several months. Before the wedding my siblings badgered him to adopt us but Coach Haas, who was only one month older than our birth-father and a fellow 1960 graduate of Elwood’s Wendell L. Willkie High School, gently countered that he could never take another man’s children from him.
Three days after the wedding, I returned from the shower to learn from my college roommate that my dad was in the lounge waiting to speak with me. I hurriedly dressed, working to still whirling, confusing thoughts of why my dad was on campus so early; he worked about ten minutes from my residence hall so I figured he was delivering something from Mother.
Dad greeted me, grabbed my arm, and led me to a corner area of Swinford Hall’s immense lounge.
“Son, I need you to sit down.”
I complied with his request fearing the worst: my grandfather had died.
Dad knelt down in front of me, took my hands in his, and quietly uttered, “Your dad was killed in a wreck last night.”
Finally, everything settled. I grasped what had happened, and nodded.
“This wasn’t the way I was planning on starting this family. I hope you will still trust me as you get through this.”
I gave him a hug, assuring him that only my father had died; I still had my dad.
37 years, David Haas was my dad. As with my sons, it’s hard to imagine he wasn’t my dad from my beginning. When Mother told me Dad had been diagnosed as diabetic, I fretted that it increased my own probability to become diabetic.
Darin Lee Jolliff is physically 56 years old; Darin Lee Jolliffe-Haas is legally 36. David Haas has been my dad over half my life.
It seems altogether fitting that Dad should pass on this particular Thanksgiving morning so that he will be the hub of my blessings I take into account.
I do not carry his genes, but I do carry his last name alongside that of my birth father, Danny Jolliff. I believe I inherited from one and adopted from the other the very best qualities each man possessed and lovingly shared with me.
I’ve buried a brother, mother, and dad within twenty months. Each of them still flicker within me, their memories overflowing.
Thank you, David L. Haas. Thank you, Dad. Know you are loved…