Jordan and his guest Sarah Levine discuss the death of their fathers, Roscoe Jordan and Marty Levine. They share what their fathers taught them during their time on earth, as well as what they have learned by living without them. This episode is dedicated to Roscoe and Marty.
Jordan: Alright, Welcome everybody to episode two of the podcast ‘What’s Your Truth?’ Between the last episode and this episode my universe was shaken a bit. A few weeks back I sat down with Sarah Levine, she’s a college student development master’s student over in the college of education. The both of us share a really unfortunate event in our lives and we sit down and talk at length about it. I want this conversation to sort of stand for itself. Also I’m going to let you know about midway through the conversation you’re going to hear a third voice, that is our talented editor and producer Dave Blanks. He shares an exceptional point that we don’t want lost in the conversation. Beyond that, I want to say this episode is dedicated to a man named Marty and a man named Roscoe. Thank You.
Jordan: So welcome Sarah Levine. How are you?
Sarah Levine: I’m good, I’m good. Thank you.
Jordan: Good, good. So, can you tell me a little bit about yourself?
Sarah: Yeah! So, I moved up here to Boone from Florida where I attended Florida Gulf Coast University for my undergrad. But now I just finished my Masters here in college student development, and I am currently working on my Education Specialist degree. The best way to describe it is like the pre-doctorate. So, I’m not quite there yet but I’m working on those gen ed credits and I’m working on that. And I work in University Housing, so this is my third year there too.
Jordan: Okay, and what do you do for fun?
Sarah: That’s a wonderful question that you asked me. That’s always a tough one. You’re like “That should be easy to answer.” I would say my new favorite hobby is, I am a Pinterest queen. And I love looking for recipes and trying them and making my fiancée eat them.
Jordan: Nice. I don’t do much Pinterest. I am not in College Student Development. But, I am an HPC, which is a department in the College of Ed in-- at Appalachian and that’s how I know you. There isn’t much that connects the two of us except for one thing, me and you are part of what I believe is one of the worst clubs ever. It’s the one thing that I--- just nobody wants to be a part of. We both have lost our father, our fathers are dead now. And that’s kind of what I want to talk to you about today. My father passed away in September, which is you know I guess it has been less than, little over a month, something like -- I don’t even know. I can’t even tell about time, like time is weird now. But, my father passed away recently and your father passed away when?
Sarah: It was actually September 20th of 2016.
Sarah: So, it’s a little over a year and I have to say I agree with that time weirdness. There’s not really a word to describe it but it doesn’t feel that long --
Sarah: Or even possible that that happened.
Jordan: Yeah, yes! And you know and that’s kind of something that I’ve been trying to figure out too. Like it doesn’t feel possible that it has happened and my dad passed away in, September 23rd was the day he died so, so as you were quote unquote celebrating the anniversary of your father’s passing mine was just, we were taking my dad off the life support at that point. But, that’s - that’s what I want to talk to you about today, us being two fairly nondescript people here at App kind of having shared a similar, a similar experience in losing our parents. I -- I want to talk to you a bit about this and I think as I would say to anybody who’s going through grief and loss, I would always encourage them to kind of have conversations about the person that they’ve lost, and kind of what they’ve meant, and the things they’ve learned. And in the spirit of this podcast, I am-- I am curious about the different truths that you’ve learned from your father and perhaps, I --I maybe you know as somebody who fights off truth tooth and nail I think I might’ve learned from mine. So, if you don’t mind, could you tell me a story about him? Tell me a story about your father.
Sarah: Yeah, this is one that always comes to mind and it’s going to be a weird story but it’s a happy story. And so, my dad and I, like the car was our place, right? And so, my dad loved to go on road trips and drive and sometimes we would just go on a Friday night and we would drive and every once in a while my dad would have a cigar and we would just go on a trip. The windows would be down and the music would be playing but, this time I was older and there was--
Jordan: He had a cigar?
Jordan: How awesome is that?
Sarah: Yeah, my dad was cool. He was a cool cat. But we were actually going so he made really great friends with these owners of a cigar shop that was in a town that was probably like forty minutes from my hometown and so we went to go visit them and it was in a Publix shopping center. So, Publix is a big grocery store and if you’re from Florida, Publix is the thing, and they have awesome sushi.
Sarah: Yeah, I don’t know what it is, it’s like the container pre-made sushi but it’s like so good. It’s so good. And my dad and I had been driving and we went and we were so hungry and there was a Publix, and my dad and I just looked at each other and we were like we need this sushi. So, we went inside and--
Jordan: You need the sushi. Did he have a cigar in his mouth when he was saying this or?
Sarah: The cigar was done. The cigar was done. We already left the shop but we went inside and we just ate this Publix sushi in the car and it was just like one of those moments that you remember forever and there no reason why and there’s no thing why but my dad was just so happy and I was so happy and we were eating the sushi that we love.
Jordan: From Publix.
Sarah: From Publix in the car. Um and I don’t know why that’s always the first story that comes to my mind but I think it was just because it was such a everyday normal thing, but yet it was so special. And it’s just a memory I think about that day of like being in the car and like eating Publix sushi.
Jordan: How did the car become the place? Was it like something intentional? Was it a -- was it a thing? Cause I think about those things I have with my dad that I didn’t really know would be our thing, I did not know, you know for example, me and my dad started sharing bourbon together and it wasn’t like an intentional, “Okay well we’re going to start drinking bourbon”. You know he didn’t say to me, “Son, son we’re going to have some bourbon today.” You know he would-- we just started having that, that kind of popped up in like weird time, so how did the car, for you and your dad, become a place? Do you any idea?
Sarah: Gosh, I don’t even know if I could like pinpoint when that happened. I think the car was just our place for our family. It was -- my dad just loved to drive in the car. It was just a calming thing, I think when we were babies it was, “The kids will go to sleep now if we put them into the car”, and I don’t know, and I don’t even know if it was like a, identified thing maybe is a good way to explain it. The car was just where we could be. It was the radio--
Jordan: Where you could be.
Sarah: Yeah, I know that’s like a really mystic thing to say but it was just like a space. It became our space it became our family space, and being in the car just meant it was us and it was the music and it was time.
Jordan: What did y’all listen to?
Sarah: Oh my gosh, my dad was a big rock and roll fan!
Sarah: Yes, The Eagles, Led Zeppelin --
Jordan: Nice! You can’t go wrong with Led Zeppelin.
Sarah: Oh my gosh, Bob Dylan, all the things yeah. And then if my mom was in the car we’d listen to The Beatles and yeah. And there was always this talk show, it was called Stan and Haney. It was weird. It was these two men talking on the radio about wild, weird, random things but it would make my dad crack up, and we would just listen to it. That was the five o’clock traffic hour radio.
Jordan: And that’s what y’all did?
Sarah: Yeah, yeah.
Jordan: What was his name? What was your dad’s name?
Sarah: Martin, but he went by Marty.
Jordan: Okay. Marty listening to Stan and Haney in the car with the family.
Sarah: Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Jordan: Wow, wow. So, I’m going to tell a quick story, and there’s a question coming I swear.
Jordan: So, I -- you know this podcast is what’s your truth and part of why this show exists and something I never ever actually said to my father was I-- how much I really enjoyed our conversations about the universe, and for him the universe always connected to religion and things likes that so, so I would argue with him about his religious beliefs and his faith just because. Not because I cared but just because that was what we did, it was what we did. And so, I am -- he he comes from a place where there are things that are fact and things that are not fact, and these things are very clearly factual and these things are very clearly not. And so, he was very clear cut on what those things are. And of course my refrain to him was “pops” and that’s what I called him, pops, his name is Roscoe Jordan but I call him pops, like “Pops there’s no such thing as truth, there’s no such thing as truth. What are you talking about? What are you arguing for? Everything is fungible, everything is fungible.” He’s like “No son, no, that’s not true.” I would argue with my dad about you know those things he believed were true and those things that -- he believed were not true, and he would always argue with me - about this idea of suffering and hurt and pain and he said -- you know he would argue with me that there are lessons that can only be learned through hurt and suffering and pain, and I would -- I’d just like “That is just ridiculous” and he believed that that was a truth in the world, that somehow suffering brought understanding and I’m -- I’m a believer that you know violence of any kind or hurt of any kind is not necessary to learn any lesson and so, that was just that. And I -- this was a conversation we had over years, my father, just before he passed, he was on life support and I gotta tell you that one of the worst things I will ever remember about my father passing away was the sound of that (edited) machine. I hate it more than anything in the world. But anyways, so his best friend, my father’s best friend, Clarence Boone, was in the room with me while I was sitting with my father towards the end and he would -- he would we were talking and you know sharing tears and laughing and then for me there was more tears and more laughing and then just talking and then tears and so you know for whatever reason as my father is sitting across -- laying in the bed across the room and, I am sitting next to his friend Clarence Boone, who he called my dad Jordan and so that’s my dad’s name and then you know he started in this conversation, it’s weird, started in this conversation he was calling me Nick but as some point he switched to calling me Jordan, which was a real big issue in my head but anyway, so he gets up and he goes next to my father and he grabs his arm and he’s holding his arm and is talking to me about this thing -- that I am talking to Mr. Boone about how my dad believed that some things didn’t need to -- I just didn’t think that some things needed to come from hurt and pain and so he’s holding my dad’s arm and he starts talking to me. He says “You know, I was a -- you know when I was a kid I was brought up in this...you know a man is supposed to be a man, a man is not supposed to have you know, there’s no tears, there’s just no crying you know you don’t show any pain cause you’re a man, like that’s how you’re brought up” and he’s still holding my father’s arm and I still hear that machine in the background but he’s explaining to me, he’s like, “You know but when I came into this room and heard you in pain and in tears over your father” and he said that “I can't do that.” he said you know Boone was talking about himself, he’s like “I may not have the ability to do that so I have to experience that through others” and he said and he looked at me as he’s holding my father’s arm, he said you know, he asked me the question he’s like “You know Jordan would I be able to have experienced you in this moment and see this -- this thing, this thing that is connected to manhood and this pain and this hurt that you’re showing, would I of been able to see this if your father was not here and in this horrible state?” and so it was one of those moments, I had to acknowledge in that moment, and this isn’t a truth I necessarily think is universal, but in that moment I had to acknowledge that perhaps pain and suffering was the only for Mr. Boone to have experienced that, to see that, that this awfulness was the only way and it was this weird moment of watching him hold my father’s arm and explain something to me that I’m positive my father had said before to me but he had never said out loud, like I never heard it in that way. So, it was this weird, like he’s talking through him, he’s talking, my dad was talking through Boone in that moment and it was just amazing and weird to hear him -- it was just crazy. So, that long-winded story to get to this question of what are the things, what are the truths in the universe that perhaps your father taught you?
Sarah: Wow, well first thanks for sharing that story, gosh. I feel like I’m at a loss of words, for a moment. Um, what has my father taught me?
Sarah: So, something I said at my dad’s celebration of life, that’s what we called it, my dad was cremated and so we did a celebration of life and I the whole time people kept coming up and speaking, coming up and speaking, and I said if I don’t go up there I’m going to regret it forever. And so, I stood up and I don’t even know what came over me it was like one of those moments, like almost out of body and I walk up to this podium and I’m looking at this crowd and all I could say that came is “My dad would wasn’t me to be brave, he would want me to live a brave life” not having that fear, not feeling trapped maybe is a good way to describe it, I find that I’m experiencing these feelings but I can’t put words to it. So, if I say that, that’s why, a lack of talking about it maybe.
Jordan: Sure, sure.
Sarah: Right. And so, I think -- and something I’ve had on my screensaver on my phone is the words “Be brave.” since that day. And I’ve never taken it down, and I’m not sure why those were the words that came out when I was standing up there but that’s what the message was in that moment, it was to be brave it was to have no fear of the future even though I knew he wasn’t there anymore.
Jordan: To be brave and have no fear of the future.
Sarah: Yeah, and I mean I think about things that dad-- so the question is things that my dad has taught me or? And so I want to make sure that I answer the question. Sometimes I feel like that’s two different things, like what has my dad taught me? And what has the experience of losing my dad taught me?
Jordan: I’m curious of both.
Sarah: Yeah, so -- I think I want to answer the question of what has the loss of my dad taught me. And so, I think that what happened was, it happened really quickly, not as quick as your experience Jordan, but it was about seven months that my dad was diagnosed, and he passed away. And so, the biggest, I don’t want to say stereotypical but the cheesiest thing I’ve learned is that time is the worst freaking thing on the planet that doesn’t even exist and it’s a social construct but it’s so real, it’s so real that time can go by and you don’t even know it until it’s happening. But I think that something I’ve locked away is and I want to talk about you saying like experiencing emotions, I love the question that you posed though like do you have to experience things through suffering and pain, and this experience of suffering and pain is nothing that I could even imagine. So you try to think when you’re younger you know that death comes and that’s something that’s a part of life but when it actually comes--
Jordan: They can’t tell you--
Sarah: There’s nothing. There’s absolutely nothing that anybody could ever say that would prepare you for that moment, nothing. And for me that makes me value and cherish relationships but it also makes me cautious and I hate that. It makes me so angry when I feel that way where it’s like I want to make these connections and open up and talk and do these things but I feel--
Jordan: Do you want to feel that again
Sarah: Right, I feel the shield coming up in my heart and then I remember that day where I stood up and I said that my dad would want me to live a brave life.
Sarah: Right, and so like I have to remind myself and go back to that moment, that weird moment that I don’t even know how I stood up and got out of the chair and walked up and I don’t even remember making eye contact with people but the words that came out of my mouth was my dad would want me to live a brave life. And that wasn’t even something that he said regularly, you know? It was in different ways, it was when I was playing soccer, to be the best that I could possibly be, and to practice every day and show up and be a part of it. And when I was in school, that there was no other option than being successful no matter how it had to come, no matter what you had to do, positively obviously. But, no matter what that journey was, it was about doing it because you want to, and because it’s passionate and powerful and it’s brave.
Jordan: And -- and that like I think that something the he hasn’t necessarily didn’t repeat to you often you that you picked up. You know, the one thing I think I learned from my dad in the same way is he always, he always told me, at least the message I got is “You always stand tall in the gap”. That you stand up and you -- you position yourself in the gap because it can be nobody else but you, it just can’t. And I think I learned that you know when I saw the constant train of community member and family members coming to the hospital to visit my father who talked passionately, they would talk passionately about he, things he would do, ways he would love on them and take care of them and that’s what, that is the thing I think my dad, one of the big things my dad taught me was that you stand in the gap because it can’t be anybody else but you, that you have your spot and you need to stand there and -- that’s just it. That’s just it you know --- can’t get tired, you stand up, it’s your time, it’s your time.
Sarah: Right. Yeah, I think kind of going off of that too, thinking about the people, so when my dad passed away, we posted on Facebook, because there were a lot of people in my dad’s social circle that lived in other places. And to the messages and stories that would just pour in from talking about my dad. It was just like, I wish I knew them before this moment but something about this moment makes it even more special. And I think something else that’s taken away from that is your impact can be so far and so wide and sometimes you don’t even know that it’s happening and my dad impacted all these people. He was an operating room nurse for many many years and then he became a teacher, so he use to teach in a nursing school, couple of different nursing schools and so my dad, at his celebration of life, there were people from our family, but in the back of the room it was all of his students from the class he last taught, and that was a big thing. And so to see that right, like it’s not an everyday thing that you get to see the visible picture of somebody, of people who have been touched by somebody so important in your life.
Jordan: What was that like to see them in the back like that? Do you remember that, do you?
Sarah: I remember walking into the room and seeing them and they were just very cordial and very polite -- and I think I didn’t realize the impact of them being in that space until recently but, if I could think back to that moment, it was, it was almost heartwarming, it was just like a “That’s so cool!” for lack of a better phrase that’s so cool. This room is full of people that my dad touched and there are students. My dad loved to teach, that was like his thing, that was his jam, right? And so, he just really loved to teach and he was just so good at it, he was so good at it.
Jordan: I -- and I ask because you know do you remember that because not just because it was a year ago but just, I just know that for me being in that space it was all I could do to stay conscious, all I could do to just you know stay inside of my body and not totally spill out all over the place so.
Sarah: Right. Yeah, that day I remember putting on a pretty good mask.
Sarah: You know and I wasn’t afraid to be emotional because it was almost impossible to not be emotional but I was really good at you know, going to a table and saying thank you so much for coming and making a joke and laughing. And I -- I look back and I don’t know how I did it, I don’t know how it came and once the service started I was an emotional wreck and but still found that power and courage to walk up to the stand but I think that again, I put this mask on and I was able to be like a host.
Sarah: Right? And I wanted to support my mom and I wanted to support my sister, and I was single at the time, when that happened, and so I was the host. And that’s weird, that’s so weird to say that, like I hosted my dad’s celebration of life and I didn’t host it, my family did, we were all part of the process but --
Jordan: Doesn’t that sound bizarre even to say out loud?
Sarah: It does! It does! And I’m not taking credit so when my family listens to this, I’m not taking credit for the beautiful day that we had.
Sarah: But what I felt was this need to be the okay face. That’s a pressure I feel a lot too, to be the okay face.
Dave Blanks: You stood in the gap. I know I’m not part of this conversation but --
Sarah: That’s okay.
Dave Blanks: Right?
Sarah: Wow! Oh my gosh! Connection!
Jordan: It could be nobody else but you.
Dave! Blanks!: Right? I’m sorry I’m not part of this.
Jordan: No! It’s right! It’s true!
Sarah: Sometimes it takes that outside perspective and I think that is so important with why we are doing this podcast --
Jordan: Right, yes.
Sarah: So, like Jordan and I have our experience and I have to say that it’s so nice to talk to somebody who has experienced it whose not family because that’s a different connection and relationship but like this right now is so raw and authentic and to make those connections so we appreciate you. So, don’t feel bad.
Dave Blanks: Okay good! Back into the shadows with me.
Jordan: Speaking of that though, you know it is very different talking to you know someone outside of the family and someone inside the family like I am -- it is -- I have to remind myself each time that I call my stepmom who was married to my dad for 31 years or call his sisters or call my brothers, I have to remember and remind myself that I’m not the only person in pain, that I got to be careful, that I can’t, I’ve got to be the face that’s not going to add to their (edited) too. And that’s like, that’s hard, that’s hard cause it’s-- your feeling all these things but you know oh okay I need to check on others too, you know I’m not the only person in pain but it’s -- it’s hard.
Sarah: It’s so hard, and I -- I really relate to that because you want to talk to people who knew him the most right? And you want to vent about it, and you should. But there’s those moments where, I cannot be the next layer of burden.
Jordan: Right, right. Don’t want to be that person.
Jordan: You don’t. My dad had a plethora of clichés that he repeated out of his mouth over and over and over and over and over and over again. He would repeat these things as if somehow he had come up with them himself, so if he kept saying them somehow that eventually I would think that he made it up but no he didn't, but he had a plethora of clichés the one of -- the one I remember most and the one I repeated at my -- we had a celebration of tenure, a tenure party and my dad was there when I got tenure and I said this there too but my favorite saying that he would say to me often times is, “Son, son, son if you see a turtle on a stump remember he didn't get up on the stump by himself” and that was always his -- and so to my father’s great disappointment I fell off the church bus many years ago and so and that’s just not been it hasn’t been in my life, religion, and Jesus has not been in my life in the ways in which my dad would want to I’m sure it was his great disappointment. But, that would be his way of kind of trying to get me, push me in those directions and so he would tell me about the turtle on stump and that there’s this higher power that you know I needed to make sure I’m giving thanks to and doing all of those beautiful things but, like I said that I fell off the bus, but are there any sayings that your father had, that Marty would say to you about you know life, is there anything you remember?
Sarah: So, my dad had a lot of sayings, he was a pretty big jokester and a huge movie buff.
Sarah: Yeah so, a lot of things came from movies and so the three stooges I think was one of his inspiration, like weird sounds and jokes. So those are like the first things that come in mind is just laughter, right? And so, finding the funny in things and making jokes and my dad had plenty of nicknames for us, that I’m not going to repeat because they’re just silly but one of them was always maggot--
Jordan: Was wait what?
Sarah: Yeah, and so it sounds terrible and that’s like something that grows in the trash but it was so -- it’s so terrible but it was always meant out of love, we’ll call it that right? And so, it was just, it was just an endearing term that he would he use -- to call our name.
Sarah: And so, and so I know that that’s not really like a phrase or anything but when I think about stuff it was always in the way my dad talked to us and I think I find a lot of that. It was never like specific words or things or there were a lot of those but I think it was just the way my dad always spoke to us, it was always with respect, it was always with love and guidance and sometimes they were using other words that I won’t repeat on the microphone but my dad had, he just had a way of when it was in the moment he could tell you, it was just -- and it was never specific, but one thing I will say that my dad always talked about is the golden rule. So a lot people know about it, so it’s treat others the way you want to be treated and in my I’ll call it my social justice journey I’ve kind of changed it a little bit and it’s treat others the way they want to be treated, right? And so, but my dad always talked about that, that was his golden rule, and my dad had a lot of respect and curiosity to know more about people, and life and culture and I think that’s where that came from and he would always say that. So, that’s been something that I’ve grown up with and it’s something very stereotypical that people say but at the same time in my world it’s helped me evolve my world perspective and so I changed the words, but it came from him.
Jordan: I hear that, and I -- sorry I heard what you said the love and the guidance piece, and I don’t think for a second, and I’m not saying this for a second about my father that somehow, he was was the perfect man and he did everything right you know? I would argue and absolutely say that my dad was a net positive on the world and I think if I can be a net positive on the world, then that’s pretty good. So, in thinking about how he parented you, what kind of father he was, are there any of those lessons that you want to one day you know repeat you know onto you know your children or your family or however that looks for you, if having a family is your thing like, are there things that he did that you would want to do for yourself and your own family?
Sarah: Yeah, absolutely. I mean the dream is to have kids one day for sure and so I mentioned earlier that I have a fiancé and I think something that my dad did was he gave us independence. And my mom did it too, it was definitely a joint effort but my dad was always really open, open to listening to what we thought about something, what we wanted to do, and where we wanted to go next with it. And so, there was never something that I brought to my dad where he was like absolutely not you can’t do that that’s terrible, unless it was illegal, which didn’t happen often.
Jordan: Sure. Not too often.
Sarah: Not really. But, when it was something that I wanted to go after or that I was passionate about and so when I was younger it was soccer, that was and so that was something my dad and I always connected over, was sports. He played baseball growing up and he was a dodgers fan when they were the Brooklyn dodgers, before they were LA and so I was very disappointed when LA lost the World Series but that’s a different conversation but, sports was something we got to talk about and it wasn’t even about what sport it was, it was the heart of the sport and when I was committed to something it was you were committed and you’re going to do this but if it was something wrong, speak up for yourself. And so, if something wasn’t going right with training or practice or I mean I was, I played soccer starting when I was ten years old until 18 when I finished high school and so if something wasn’t right like speak up for yourself or if I wasn’t doing the best that I could, “Why aren’t you doing that well?” and so my dad’s guidance, again with that word, it was always I could talk about it and figure it out and he would support me so making decisions about myself, that was big thing, it was never I had to do it because my parents wanted me to do it, it was I really want to do this thing, okay how can you do it? How can we figure it out? And that’s just what I remember from my childhood I never remember having to like fight to be a part of something I wanted to be a part of but if I learned a lesson from it, we talked about that lesson being learned. Does that make sense?
Jordan: It does, it does.
Sarah: That was a little bit of an off tangent but, I think that the roundabout thing is that I hope that my kids feel comfortable to come to me one day and say “Hey I’m really passionate about this” or “This might of been a wrong decision I need some help getting out of it.” that trust and bond and relationship is so important and that was the -- one the biggest like parenting takeaways I guess I could say I took away, just like being open and willing to speak about things.
Jordan: I hear that. Alright, so I’m going to tell one last story and I promise it’ll get to a question. So, so my dad some probably -- it’s going to be a difficult story to tell, about a few months before he passed he got his four sons together and we all were out at his house in Memphis. We were all out drinking, laughing, smoking cigars, which is why I connected to your story about Marty smoking cigars like “Really? Yes!” so that’s really, outside smoking cigars at his house and we were all together in the space and this was the first time his four sons we were all there in 9 years, we all together at one time. We’d all seen each other but just not never all you now with our father and the four of us in one space. You know life is just like that sometimes, and my dad which in the moment it seemed weird but now I’m wondering if he knew something if he somehow sensed that his time was coming to an end, he said you know he said I’m not going to be here forever and I want you know I want my boys to be close, to love each other, and to know that well you know -- when and then -- and this was one of his clichés, and know that when the love is real then that’s that’s the ultimate thing like the love being real the love between each other, the love between brothers the love between family the love between you know us as men and our partners he says when the love is real that’s really important and he really was driving this message home and he talked about how he you know -- he he felt that his time was coming and we were all looking at him weird and like, “What are you talking about man?” And so we brushed that off, “That’s crazy, there’s no way in the world,” but, I think it was in that moment in that moment during that conversation I Just -- my dad is the one that he is connected to everybody in the family, he would always be you know he always reached out he always the one to call the “black sheep” quote unquote of the family and then he would reach out for the person that’s been isolated or whatever, he was just the guy at the nexus point that brought everybody together and I think for me in that point I finally realized so close to the end of his life that --- I needed to do that too, I needed to reach out and help keep the family together somehow. Like, looking back on it I don’t -- I learned that. That’s what he taught me about this world. Hhe taught me that -- Nick you know you’re going to have to be the guy, you’re going to have to carry you weight in holding the family together and so that wasn’t something I think that he said you know or I got the message just for me, it was for all us, for my brothers to keep that love real to you know keep your family together keep them close because that is the most important thing, that’s what he taught me about this world--To keep family close, to keep the love real, and to love -- to to hold them close. What was the thing that your relationship with your father taught you about this world?
Sarah: Yeah, you’re asking all these real deep questions and I think that something that I just want to touch on is that it’s hard to put into words sometimes those feelings and I find that happens often and so all of the things I’ve been saying have just been coming out and I hope that they make sense and that--
Jordan: They do.
Sarah: That they reflect really who my dad was and your question, I want to answer it clearly and I don’t know if I can because there’s so many things that I think I could say.
Jordan: Take your time.
Sarah: Yeah, I think something that I do want to say is that my relationship with my dad, I think it made me who I am, yeah. There are so many aspects of it that I could go into detail and talk forever about but I think that I’m a good person because of my dad. He taught me that there are good people in the world. He taught me how to find those good people he--
Jordan: That’s beautiful.
Sarah: -- right? And like I’ve never said that out loud before, it’s not the first thing that comes to your mind until someone makes you think about it and that sounds a little self-centered and I don’t mean to sound self-centered but --
Jordan: I don’t think so.
Sarah: I think that--
Jordan: Thinking that there are good people in the world, that doesn’t sound self-centered. That’s a good thing.
Sarah: Yeah, and I think the other thing that my dad taught me, and I’m going to go back to this other statement of “Be brave” because it’s the -- it’s the most solid thing I have, and I don’t know if solid is the right word, again words are hard. But, this like be brave aspect, that it’s okay to chase your dreams, it’s okay to fail, it’s okay to make mistakes, what’s not okay is to not get back up from them, and that’s something that again it’s just through the actions of my dad. Not everything was perfect in his life, right? And not everything was the way that he wanted it to go or maybe he expected it to go and at the end of the day we came home and it was us. It was me and my siblings and my mom and my dad and it was the core, it didn't matter how mad we were, it didn't matter what went wrong that day, it didn’t matter that we were a different kind of family, it just - it didn’t matter and it was the ability to be with each other and so I’m connecting this back to family because what you said was so powerful and moving Jordan and true, it’s a truth. So, I -- I want you to hold on to that too because the whole purpose is talking about what’s your truth and what you said was so true, its so truthful that being, keeping that family together and all that pain and I think it's also navigating how to do that.
Jordan: Well, Sarah Levine, I want to thank you for having this conversation with me, and sharing this with the world. Before we go, is there anything you’d like to speak out into the universe about Marty?
Sarah: Oh my gosh, I could say many many things, if anyone could know something about my dad it’s that he was awesome, my dad was awesome, and he still is awesome. He has this weird way, he comes through music, so I talked earlier about being in the car and listening to music and my dad and I have a song and it’s called Sarah Smile by Hall and Oates and that was something that we always listened to and when it came on it was our song and I could walk into cascades and it’s just playing, I’m like nobody -- this is -- I know it’s a popular song but like why is it playing in the dining hall and I could walk into a store and it’s playing and there’s other songs that play and the memories that come with those songs, my dad made those! Those are mine to keep and no one can take them and that’s what my dad did and that’s what was awesome about him and so I -- I keep using the word awesome but I don’t know how else to describe him, and he was just so amazing and whoever’s listening that has been a part of his life I hope that you know that and whatever that impact is on you from him, that you can share those stories and I hope that I’m gaining the courage more to share cause that’s been my struggle in finding my truth in this.
Jordan: Amen. Roscoe, I’m standing in the gap for you man, standing in the gap. I love you. That’s all I got.
What do you think?
Share your feedback on this story.
About Appalachian State University
As the premier, public undergraduate institution in the state of North Carolina, Appalachian State University prepares students to lead purposeful lives as global citizens who understand and engage their responsibilities in creating a sustainable future for all. The Appalachian Experience promotes a spirit of inclusion that brings people together in inspiring ways to acquire and create knowledge, to grow holistically, to act with passion and determination, and to embrace diversity and difference. Located in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Appalachian is one of 17 campuses in the University of North Carolina System. Appalachian enrolls more than 19,000 students, has a low student-to-faculty ratio and offers more than 150 undergraduate and graduate majors.