My last post was one day less than a year ago, I had no idea what the following year would hold for me. Today, I never thought I’d be reflecting on two months with out my dad. My dad dying has been the most painful thing I have ever been though. While there are 1,000 things I could say about my dad dying, the main purpose of me writing this post is to “carve in stone” or in this case carve in the internet, the eulogy I wrote and delivered at the funeral of my father. They say things put on the internet live on forever, hopefully this will be just one more way my dad can live on forever.
“Thank you for coming today to celebrate and share the life of Bill Mitchell. For those of you who do not know me, my name is Cynthia, I’m his daughter.
For me, my dad was someone who I looked up to. From an early age, I wanted to be like my father. As a child my dad let me drive the car home from the swimming pool. By drive I mean I got to sit in his lap for the three blocks home and pretend to drive. But at such a young age, you think you have hit the jackpot. There were many stories like this as I was growing up. He always made sure I was on beat, letting me dance on his feet until I grew up so much I might have broken his toes.
As a teenager my dad met my friends. Sarah, a friend I made freshman year of high school remembers my dad teaching us to play Texas hold ‘em poker. We used pennies and played at the kitchen table until the late night hours. I’m sure her parents were thrilled when she returned home with a weekend of stories from my dad’s house. My friend Katie would always tell me when her grandparents had seen my dad on television, it made me proud to know people watched my dad.
When I got to college I had a couple of semesters where I was not sure exactly what I wanted to do. My dad gave me good and timeless advice. He said do what you love, everyday and it will never feel like work. I eventually decided to follow in his footsteps. I got my degree in journalism and went to work at a small town paper. I think that was one of his most exciting moments as a parent. Over the last week, I have been going through boxes, in some, I have found papers titled “Tips to be a good reporter” and “How to get the best interview” they all have my name written at the top in his hand writing.
My dad took his own advice to heart, he did what he loved everyday. For over four decades he traveled all over green county, Oklahoma, the United States and to other parts of the world. He has covered, the weird, the funny, the sad and the tragic. If it was news worthy and sometimes even if it didn’t seem like it was, Bill Mitchell was on the scene reporting.
I think one of the first times it really sank in that my dad has a job that was extraordinary was during the Oklahoma City Bombing, I was 8 at the time, and it is the first time I can remember knowing that something BIG was happening and my dad was there. He and the channel 8 news crew stayed in town reporting back to their viewers the tragedy that had struck. When I made the decision to go into reporting I asked my dad, how do you do something like that, cover something so sad. He told me sometimes you just have to focus on helping the people, and once you do, you will find the story. There were many to be told in Oklahoma City that April and in the years following. My dad took pride in keeping his viewers updated. The story left and lasting impression with him. He followed it to the end.
As an adult, my dad told me of the golden days, reporting from Sky Roamer, or doing a series that let him combine his love for reporting with his love for skydiving. Once I decided to join the business he let me in on the good, the bad and the ugly. He was always asking me what I was working on, giving me advice. I think secretly he was trying to make sure I didn’t look too green when I was out in the community.
He was always concerned with making sure I was in the know, I was talking to his friend Mary earlier this week and she and I were saying that my dad probably introduced us 12 times before he remember that we had already met and talked extensively.
Many people have told me this week that I was the apple of my dad’s eye, the center of his world if you will. While I know this to be true, when he wasn’t talking about me to all of his friends. He was sharing stories with me about everyone in his life.
Laura Moss wrote to me on facebook and said that after morning shows had ended he would say love working with you guys. And it was true, he really did. I would routinely talk to him on my way to work when he was wrapping up the morning show, he would catch me up on the latest stories from the news and let me know how everyone in the newsroom was doing. He told me about peoples children and how they were doing in school or the latest thing someone had taught him on his iphone or computer.
Jeff Lea posted a picture of him and wrote that even in a bar, out of town, on vacation he still carried the reporters note pad. And let me say, they are not just for the old school, these really are handy for everything.
My dad loved to share stories, on the air or off. In the last year, you could not talk to him with out hearing the story of him reconnecting with Jill. He boasted regularly to everyone about how happy he was and how much he was looking forward to their travels.
One of his favorite stories he loved to remind me of was going to the first birthday party of James and Shannon’s daughter Taylor. He so enjoyed watching her grow up and every time he would update me on something about her life, he would say, don’t you remember her first birthday party, she is growing up so fast.
It seems like everyone I have talked to this past week has a funny, quirky or interesting story about how my dad touched his or her life. I love hearing these and as you go on living your life, taking what you have learned or the advice he has given you, I hope you know that you touched his life too. From an almost stranger recognizing him at the store to an old friend calling in to check up, everything people did made his days on earth wonderful. Now with God, on his biggest assignment yet, lets take a look back at the man who loved giving us our news for over four decades. Reporting for the last time, here is Bill Mitchell.”
This is a video put together by my dad’s friend James Puckett, it was used when he retired from KTUL at the end of 2012, we also played it at his funeral.
Thank you for taking the time out to read this, I hope it brought back some great memories of my father, Bill Mitchell.