I first want to tell everyone thank you from the bottom of my heart for all the cards and well wishes. Unfortunately, as most of you know, my father, the Duquesne Hunky, passed away Monday, November 9th around 8:10 pm in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
These are my memories, my stories, my amazing life with The Duquesne Hunky. This post may ramble because I get my talkative nature from my daddy. I first wanted to introduce you to who he was as a father, the most important job he ever had.
Okay, here goes nothing. I can tell you right now, I won’t be able to come close to my father’s writing, but I want to keep his legacy alive with each and every one of you wonderful people. He was so incredibly proud of his blog. He put so much time and research into each post. While I won’t be focusing on Duquesne and the surrounding area in this particular post, I will be focusing on the creator of this blog, the incredible Jim Volk, my father. My name is Abby, and I am Jim’s youngest daughter of two girls. You can just say my parents stopped having children when they had the perfect child 😉. All jokes aside, my dad and I shared a special bond and so many things in common. I have always shared the same creative side my father had, from drawing, to writing, to decorating.
Maybe writing a few blogs will help be through the grieving process, who knows, but it is worth a shot.
The hardest time of my day for me is at night. My dad and I were night owls. I would always text him around 11pm and ask if he was up. Most of the time his response was, “Yes, what’s up baby?” to which I would respond, “Whatcha doing?” Without hesitation, his response would always be that he was coloring. He loved the coloring games on his phone. I want to so badly read our texts back and forth, but I cannot bring myself to do that. There was talk in my family about disconnecting his phone, but I am having a lot of trouble agreeing to that. To me, it seems like the last thing we have. Plus, one day, I know I will need to call him and hear his voice, even if it is just his voicemail recording.
As I stated before, I inherited my creative nature from my father. Growing up, I loved to draw, color, sculpt, paint, you name it, I enjoyed it. Art class was everything to me. While my career now doesn’t require my creativity, I find myself itching to do something to get my creative juices flowing. One thing I absolutely love doing is interior decorating. My dad and I share that love. In fact, we would butt heads a lot because we would ALWAYS have an opinion about SOMETHING in each other’s house. I know my dad was incredibly proud of me when he would see my house decorated. One thing my dad always let me know was when he was proud of me. That is the best feeling in the world.
They say you are more creative if you are left-handed. My dad was left-handed and was an amazing artist. I wanted to be like him. I would practice and practice to no avail. Unfortunately, your girl is still right-handed. However, me writing with my left hand isn’t THAT horrible. Do you remember back in 2019 when we could go to restaurants? Ah, those were the days. Anyway, no matter what age, if there were crayons on the table and a paper placemat or paper covering the table, my dad would draw on it. Long before the days of iPads to shut kids up, my dad had a great, free way to keep us busy. He would always draw a picture for my sister and I to color while we waited for our food. What makes my heart happy is knowing he still did it for my nephews, his grandson’s, and they remember. Up to his time of death he was working on some decorative rocks for my mom’s garden. Everything is still out on his work bench and it rips my heart out every time I see it because he wasn’t finished this gift for my mom just yet. He also wanted to start to make wreaths and Christmas trees to sell on Facebook Marketplace. So his work bench has a plethora of goodies to decorate with. You better believe I will get working on those for him because there are so many goodies he has collected to use. I can’t wait to get my hands on them. Just another way I feel blessed enough to stay connected to my father.
My dad loved to laugh and loved making people laugh. Our household was not a normal one. We were always making jokes about each other and sarcasm was a prominent language in our house. So was pig Latin when we were younger. At the dinner table my parents would speak it so we didn’t know what they were saying. My dad was a WIZ at it, but I digress. One thing I knew before he passed and was reminded of by so many people was how when they were around him, they knew they would laugh. That is how my dad made people feel comfortable, laughter. My dad loved telling stories of how I got in trouble when I was little and not so little. For some reason I think he enjoyed talking about that more than my accomplishments. Let’s just say I kept my parents on their toes growing up. Don’t worry I wear that badge of honor proudly (hehe). I kept them young (or caused many gray hairs).
Dad and I shared a love of cooking… and eating. He loved coming over for dinner at my house when I cooked and would eat everything up. Made me so happy. When anyone is cooking, I feel the need to come look and stir things. Oh, my goodness, a way to tick my dad off would be to do that very thing. He would shoo me out of the kitchen before I could get my hands on the spoon. I am literally smiling as I typed that because it would make me laugh so hard. One rule – stay out of the kitchen when dad was cooking. Hands down one of the best things he made was his Cheddar Broccoli Potato Soup. Unfortunately, I don’t believe he had a recipe for it and would always make it by heart each time. He was such an amazing cook. I will miss it so much.
Weather, we undeniably love weather. What I mean is rain and snow. He and I love it. Now we prefer the snow more than rain but during spring summer and fall, rain is exciting. The moment a flurry would fall, I would be getting a phone call, no matter the time of day or night. Snow is life with Dad and me. It is beautiful, peaceful, magical, and makes the whole world slow down for a moment. Unfortunately, watching the news, we are not going to be getting much this winter. I hope it does, I feel like if it snows, it may be him giving us a little sign from above that he is okay, wherever he may be.
Going hand-in-hand with snow is our love for Christmas. Growing up, not to toot our family’s horn but, toot, toot, we had a marvelously decorated house at Christmas inside and out. The outside was an overwhelmingly serious job for my dad. The normal color scheme was gold, silver, and some red. There were candles in every window along with a wreath hung with gold ribbon. My dad loved hearing the stories of how much I remember sitting at the window looking out and seeing the snow fall through the gap of the blinds. As weird as it seems, the sound of the wreaths scratching on the window was very comforting to me too. One thing that my dad always said, and I live by this day, no multi-colored lights outside. No offense to anyone that uses them outside, my dad and I just didn’t like it for our houses. In our house in Hagerstown, Maryland, we always had at least 8 trees up in the house. The first tree greeted you in the entryway when you walked into the house. A second one sat on the piano in the living room. The last one on the main floor was the one in our family room. Walking upstairs there was one on our plant shelf above the front door where it sat on a rocking horse we only brought out for Christmas. Of course there was one in my room and one in my sister’s room. In our basement, we had one in our “1950s” room and one in the tv room in the basement. Every single one of the trees was decorated to perfection, with its own theme. The one in our foyer had bells that would chime different songs and my sister and I would dance to them. We also loved rolling up the rug and “skating” to sound of them in our socks on the hardwood like we were at Rockefeller Center. Dad decorated every single one, except the family room tree, which he so lovingly called the “ugly tree”. This was the tree with multi-colored lights and all of the family’s ornaments we gathered throughout the years. It makes me giggle because I know he really didn’t think it was ugly, but he loved how my sister and I reacted when he called it that. Please note, after my sister, mom and I decorated the tree, he would always get his hands on it and “fix it”. He definitely suffered from POPD – Perfect Ornament Placement Disorder. Also, Christmas mornings, my sister and I were NOT, I repeat, WERE NOT allowed downstairs until my dad said it was okay. He had to turn all the Christmas lights on, turn on the Christmas music, and start a fire before we were allowed down. Just thinking about this I can still feel the excitement I felt those mornings screaming from the top of the stairs, “Daaaaaaaaaaaaaad come ooooooooooonnnnnnnn!!” I could go on and on about my memories about Christmas. Unfortunately, it hurts a little right now. I will save that for a later post.
My Dad’s tree pictured on top and my tree pictured below, can’t you see where I get it from?
During his hospital stay, my dad listened to Christmas music to feel happy, even if it was summer, and then fall. The days up to his death, it was constantly on. When I knew he was going to leave us soon I had to bend down and tell him I had to turn it off. I didn’t want these songs to remind me of him like this. I know he was okay with that. The last thing he would want to do is to make me not enjoy Christmas.
I bought my dad a small Christmas tree in October to put up in the hospital. He finally was up to decorating it while my sister was with him. While he wasn’t physically able to do it, he pointed to where they should be for my sister. He was incredibly happy seeing it everyday, something different than the white sterile room he was confined to for 5 months, and it was on until the end. Something that was strange was that this tree had no timer on the lights, but it still turned on every night at the same time by itself after he passed, even in the bag it was stuffed in. We barely have any Christmas decorations up this year, but that little tree is up and will be up every Christmas until I am not around anymore.
The next few posts will have little to nothing to do with the history of Duquesne other than it being about an AMAZING man that came from there. I hope I don’t lose any of his followers by speaking about him. I am currently searching through his computer to find his blog he was working on to maybe post it also. I am not sure how far it was on it. If you made it through this far, thank you for letting me share a small bit of my dad’s life and how amazing he was as a father. I hope everyone can gather a better idea of who he was, who he is, and who he is through my thoughts.