BY GABE LICHT
When I’m out and about wearing my Kansas City Chiefs coat, I get a lot of reactions.
Sometimes, I meet fellow fans.
Other times, I get needled for not being a Vikings fan.
Once, someone even had some colorful language regarding the late Hank Stram, who coached the Chiefs to a victory over the Minnesota Vikings in Super Bowl IV 50 years ago.
But, most of the time, people just ask why I’m a Chiefs fan and if I’m originally from Missouri.
Thankfully, I’m not from Missouri, though some of you might not think my home state of Iowa is much, if any, better.
More importantly, the real reason I’m a Chiefs fan is that my uncle Dick was a Chiefs fan. His answer for why he was a Chiefs fan was that Super Bowl win over his original favorite team. Had I originally known that, I might not have followed the lead of a “bandwagon jumper.” To his credit, though, he never jumped off the Chiefs’ bandwagon, sticking with them through some pretty rough patches.
Joining me and uncle Dick in enduring those tough times was my cousin Curtis.
He and I were among those wearing Chiefs colors as we laid uncle Dick to rest a week ago, which made the Chiefs’ losses seem exceptionally insigificant.
It was certainly an emotional experience, as funerals tend to be, but it was also a celebration of his life.
One thing we celebrated about uncle Dick was the fact that he wore many hats, both figuratively and literally.
In no particular order, he was:
A loving son,
A protective brother,
A committed husband,
A devoted dad,
An involved grandpa,
A father-like uncle,
A loyal friend,
A proud Vietnam War veteran,
An effective storyteller,
A hard worker,
And a harder partier.
Furthermore, he said what he meant and meant what he said. For those who didn’t like that, he had a particularly clever and creative way of telling them to place their lips on his posterior.
That specific phrase always made me laugh, as did many of his stories.
It was hard not to at least chuckle because he was a goofy guy and, if he turned his hat sideways, watch out, because he was about to get goofier.
He wore hats so often that my sister joked that the reason he wasn’t smiling in one of his photos was because he wasn’t wearing a hat. He, himself, used to quip about blinding people with the sun shining off his bald melon.
So, he had a number of hats: baseball hats, “trucker” hats, stocking hats, and even a green hat with black polka dots that looked like it would be better suited to a leprechaun than on a 6-plus-footer like him.
He had so many hats that his wife and two kids gave them away to relatives and friends.
Many of them were related to sports, as he was a big fan of football, NASCAR, and even baseball.
Yes, he was a fan of many things.
Most of all, he was a fan of life.
And, I’m a fan of how he lived.