List in Pics: "Make Good Choices" by Scott Essell

As the years go by, it slowly gets easier to use Father's Day for a day of celebration, admiration and honoring my dad’s memory. It may be impossible to put into words how unbelievable he was, but this list and these pictures are a good start. This List in Pics gives you five of the ways I learned to live by Scott Essell's infamous "make good choices" motto.

Work hard, play hard My dad's best friend calls anything Patagonia "Scott clothes." It's a fair statement. I was dressed in Patagonia, Birkenstocks and Ray Bans since I was a little tyke. The lesson is not to be a spoiled brat but to take pride in your hard work and splurge on things that make you happy. Whether that's a new pullover, a trip to see San Francisco or a new Apple product, I now can purchase a "Scott" item to treat myself for working hard (after putting some in my savings, too)!

Killin' it in our Ray Bans on top of the Carew Tower

Pay attention in school! My dad was smart. I mean, super smart. He had the kind of brain that absorbed everything he came in contact with. So because of that, he’d push Olivia and me to excel in our studies. From sitting me down at the kitchen table and trying endlessly to teach me math equations in junior high, to making sure I was going to my college classes as much as I was going to college parties, he made it clear education was a priority. As I look back now, I remember how excited I would get and how proud I would be to call him and tell him about a good grade I got on a paper or exam. Even when I didn’t realize it at the time, I succeeded because of him pushing me to do my best.

Liv & I at OU graduation


How to be a tough guy (girl in my case) Les Mecs Durs (translation: the tough guys) was a phrase plastered on so much cycling paraphernalia in the Essell household. Most people know my dad was an avid cyclist. He started his bike team, Team Nietzsche, in Cincinnati many years ago, and they continue to bike on Thursday mornings to this day. In the last three years of his life, he was truly the toughest guy. He fought so hard for so long, and I am so grateful that he did. During the past few months, I had to be tough as well. I’ve never done well with hospitals, needles, nonetheless surgery. Somehow, some way, I was able to draw on something inside of me to push through, and I know it was him, passing along his toughness. God bless guardian angels.

Dad's bench that Team Nietzsche dedicated to his memory on the Loveland Bike Trail

Show affection to those you love One thing I always remember about my dad was whenever he dropped me off at school, volleyball practice, work, etc., he would always give me a kiss before I got out of the car. Always. He showed me how much he loved me every day until the day he died. His memory makes me excited to have my own family and to show my children one day a love that is full and happy and infinite. He’d always sign his cards to me, “D.O.D.” Dear Old Dad. My dad was and still is truly that: so dear.


When all else fails, have a margarita My dad even took it a step further by making his own. One of my favorite memories of my dad is his love for Mexican food and good margaritas. We’d look forward to going to Cactus Pear or El Pueblo for fish tacos, and (once I was old enough) making margaritas at home with a big bag of limes and making simple syrup on the stove. I have a funny memory of coming home one day from work, upset about something that now seems silly, and sitting with him in the living room crying and carrying on about stupid drama. After I got a good cry out, he said “let’s make a margarita!” and we went into the kitchen and soon enough I was laughing and the bad day was completely forgotten. Lesson learned: have a margarita and use it as a way to remember him.

A successful Essell family vacation meal: guac & margaritas

Celebrating Dad's memory this May at Nada brunch

For those who can spend time with their fathers this Sunday, cherish it! And for those who are remembering their fathers and grandfathers this year, I wish you a day of peace, memories and love.

Xoxo, Molly