Farewell to my Father; to my Demon; to my Salvation; to half of my Creation.
To the man I called Dad, sometimes enemy, sometimes friend, Good Bye! Our relationship was complex, sometime angry and hateful, sometime loving and beautiful. There was nothing simple about it.
To better understand how I wish to speak about my father you should understand that I am a Queer Pagan. I can no longer speak and often struggle to understand the religious and spiritual language of my birth. As I speak to you I have no desire to offend anyone but to speak sincerely about this man and a small part of what he has meant in my life.
In 2002 the façade of this person I identified with as myself was completely fractured. As 2003 started I will ill prepared for the complete destruction that was about to happen in every aspect of my life. On January 18th I called my father along with various other members of my family and said, Dad I am gay. There was silence on the other end of the phone. I sat there for a couple of minutes before I said. I love you I will call you in a few weeks.
As I understand things the first week he pulled into himself and hardly spoke. The second week he started talking to Lori. By the end of the second week he said I do not understand, I will never understand, but he is my son and love him. Two weeks later he called me back “I just called to see how you are doing, make sure you are ok. For the next three years he would call me every couple of days and say about the same thing.
During those three years my life completely unraveled. Due to the unlucky circumstances I lost my emotional functionality to deal with this destruction. At the end of 2002 I was put on anti-depressants by my Navy Doctor. A few months later I was discharged from the Navy, living in Utah and assigned a new psychiatrist at the VA Medical center in Salt Lake City. He had just finished his residency and I was his first unsupervised patient. I was on the maximum does of paxil. I explained to my psychiatrist that I was having the exact opposite side effect of everything that was listed in the information about the drug. His response was to add another anti-depressant which just amplified my reaction. It wasn’t until much later and with the knowledge of a psychiatrist with two decades of experience that I understood what happened. There are a small percentage of the population which anti-depressants push into a manic/depressive state.
As my life unraveled I became extreme manic and depressed. I said and did things many of which I only vaguely remember. I have clear memories of my life up till the end of 2002. I have clear memories of my life from the beginning of 2006 until now. Between 2003 and 2006 is like trying to remember a dream I have just woken up from. I remember how dark life felt and how deeply I wanted to kill myself. But I knew that in a couple of days my father would call me to check in on me. I survived that dark period a couple of days at a time.
In 2005 I met a man visiting his family in Utah and followed him back to Atlanta. The next available appointment for the psychiatrist at the VA medical center in Atlanta was six months. When my anti-depressants ran out I stopped taking them. A couple of months later I woke up one day and I felt like myself again. I had just woken up from a three year nightmare. I told my father for the first time last year that his phone calls were one of the main reasons I did not kill myself during that time.
Over the years as my life had been rebuilt into a much different life there have been many areas where we had big difference like religion and politics he would often tell me “It is not my place to judge.” It was his example that helped me navigate the relationship I have with my own daughter, Mary. There were times in her life when it was challenging to have a queer pagan father. I had experienced how it felt to be on the receiving end of its not my place to judge and extended that to my daughter. We weathered the challenges. Her college application essay was about how having a queer pagan father and a Mormon mother was the best of both worlds.
Brad Fell was a complicated man. For some he was more imperfect than others. As a child he was the source of my demons. As an adult he was the source of my salvation.
This is how he explained his life to me, he was a person of the dark who was told all his life he had to exist in the light. I do not mean this in the terms of good and evil. In nature some plants thrive and depend on the dark. They will only bloom at night. He was a plant blooming under the moon being told he should bloom under the sun. His example of non-judgement came out of his own experiences. In my own way I am a person of the dark. He is one of the many people in my life that have helped me to be comfortable blooming under the light of the moon.
Wandering through my memories of him for me is like finding a wild briar rose. They are covered with thousands of thorns and if I get too close blood is drawn. But from the right distance away I can enjoy the beautiful flowers of the roses and their intoxicating scent. Sometimes I just have to get close and other times I have to see the bigger picture.
I feel that it is important be able to speak our truth about Brad both the good and the bad and find our own peace with him. He was both the saint and the sinner. He does not need to defend himself or speak for himself anymore. He has now passed to the spirit world where he sees the bigger picture of love and salvation. If confession and speaking out loud is your path to that same love and salvation that is all that he will ever want from each one of us.
Dad, this new journey you are on, may it be filled with peace, joy and grace. Now as you would say in the name of Jesus Chris, I say Blessed Be.
Good afternoon everyone, I am Robbie, Brad’s daughter. My dad was born October 13th 1948 to Arlin and Ruth Fell in Idaho Falls in the Temple View hospital. He was their first child and was later joined by three sisters, Karla, Elizabeth, and Kirstin. In 1953 the family moved to Rigby ID to the maternity ward that was owned by my grandma, Ruth. My dad was 5 years old. During this time, my dad’s sisters have many fond memories of him. The family had a black cocker spaniel. My dad loved this dog and would play for hours in the yard with his dog. His sisters would go to the park and watch him fly his RC planes. He was always so kind to them while they played and watched him fly his planes.
In 1964 the family moved to a farm. He spent his time talking care of the farm and milking cows before and after school. During this time, my dad had major events occur that significantly altered his life. He came down with a severe case of mono, but continued to do his chores on the farm. Shortly after that he came down with Rheumatic fever, which caused damage to his heart valves. At the age of 16 my dad was in a traumatic vehicle accident. He was with the scouts hauling lava rock. The door of the truck flew open. He held on to the door, but could not keep his hold. He was flipped over the door, hitting his head, and landed on the ground where the rear wheel of the truck ran him over and broke many of his bones.
His family did not think he would live, but he made it through and showed them that he was going to live. At that point his family did not think he would walk again. As you all know, my dad was a very stubborn man and he showed them. He defied all odds and went on to attend college.
He attended ISU and Ricks college and was working on a degree in drafting. While attending Ricks college he met my mom, Ruth Turner. In April 1971 they married and had 6 children; Keith, Jennifer, myself, Clifford, Heather, and Bryan. Their marriage later ended in divorce.
My favorite memory of my dad was right after my parents divorced. He planned a trip to Lagoon, it was just the 7 of us. He planned it down to every detail because it was important to him that it was memorable to us. He spared no expense and even went as far as trying to pair each sibling perfectly so that we would all have the best time.
My dad paired me with Clifford…. It is my fault that to this day that he won’t go on any amusement park rides. I am sorry Emily.. anytime you are with Aunt Robbie, I will go on rides with you.
Shortly after that trip my dad started Dating Lori Brown, the neighbor across the street, which shocked us all. But what they had was sweet and kind. What looked peculiar to us made sense to them. They later married and my dad gained 4 additional children, Dannielle, Dustin, Dayna, and Derick. My Dad left for work everyday before Lori did. Before he left for work he would go into their room to make sure she was tucked in and warm. He would kiss her on the cheek as he left. While they were dating, Derick wanted to play T-Ball but was afraid of the ball. My dad would come over every night and throw ball with Derick until he was over his fear and was able to join the T-ball team.
After my dad married Lori he wanted his kids to have a relationship. He bought a boat and figured if he could get all 10 of us on the boat we would pull together and bond. For me and many of us the boat had good memories and great lessons. When Derick was on his mission he understood and knew how to maneuver boats, while other missionaries struggled with them. For me, It was the first time I got sick on the boat and later learned I was sick because I was pregnant with my son Patrick. I was determined to have my son a week early so my dad took me out on the boat and let me bounce around on the bough of the boat with hopes to jump start my labor. But my son, who is as stubborn as my dad, did not come early, in fact he came a week late. Talk about teaching me a lesson about patients. Those where happy moments in my dad’s life. In fact, despite of everyone telling him to get rid of the boat, he kept the boat long after we were all gone. In his garage sits the tubes. In his closet hangs the wet suits.
My dad would bring my younger siblings and step siblings to the library every other Saturday. He would help Bryan pick out books that Bryan would enjoy reading. After they finished at the library they would go to Carsten’s bakery and each would get 2 donuts. This tradition was important to him.
Many of us have different memories of him and some are not all positive. We may have thought he did not love us, however, he loved us with his whole heart. But he did not know how to show us
My dad was happiest when he was engrossed in aviation. I remember having a conversation with him around 2002, he was so excited to tell me that he was taking flight lessons with the goal of getting his pilot’s license. Over the phone I could tell his eyes were lit up like a kid based on the tone and excitement in his voice.
On Thursday I went to his house. When I walked into his shop I could tell that was his happy place. I could feel the positive energy. In the middle of the shop was a shiny plane he had been building and in the corner of his shop was stacks of CDs that he would listen to, Boston, Eagles, and Foreigner. This plane is so shiny and pretty. You could tell he had poured his heart and soul into it. He had meticulously worked on this plane to make sure it was perfect.
He spent the last years of his life immersed in the church. He was the teacher in the high priest group and was constantly helping with neighbor’s home projects with the help of his home teaching partner, Wayne Hanson.
My dad passed on Tuesday, March 28th at 8:58PM. He was a complex man that we are still learning new things about. As I get more knowledge I gain a better understanding of who my dad was.
He was irritable and impatient. But he was also loving and beautiful. I appreciate him and am grateful for the man he was. He made me and my siblings the people we are today.
In the name of Jesus Christ