Our “Gentle Giant”
Darrin Robert Dirks, the Kid, the Legend,
Our “Gentle Giant”
To tell you about Darrin, I have to tell you some of our family story:
Darrin was born on February 28th 1988, to Bob and Margaret Dirks.
Darrin is the 3rd of 6 children. Randy, T.J., Darrin, Brian (Bea), Amanda, and Kate is the lineup of our family.
Growing up with that many siblings was great. When Darrin began to walk I wanted to call him “Beef”, because of his size, but Mom put a quick stop to that, haha. T.J. and I taught Darrin how to ride his first bike after that the three of us were never very far apart. The bike he learned on was out grown pretty fast but a bigger bike came along and the neighborhood was never the same!! I think this is where his love for riding came from.
In 1989, Brian Caleb (Bea) was born. “Baby Caleb” was a mouthful for Darrin to say at a year and 6 months old, so “Bea” is a nickname Darrin gave Brian and has stuck to this day. Darrin was no longer the little brother he had been but it wasn’t long after that Darrin and Bea became a dynamic duo.
Amanda was born in 1991, the first sister. Dad was employed at Amerigas in Willcox where we lived. In 1991 he was asked to manage both the Willcox store and the store in Sierra Vista. He commuted from Willcox to Sierra Vista for a little over a year before they decided to move to Hereford on the outskirts of Sierra Vista in 1992. The house they picked was basically in the middle of nowhere with just a few houses around, down a dirt road. Shortly after moving in we found out that the neighbors had children around the same age…. and here comes in to the family, Jeremy Mead (aka, our brother from another mother). In 1993 Katelin was born the last of 6.
Darrin and Jeremy would start going to school at Palominos Elementary. Darrin easily made friends there with the help of Jeremy. Darrin was the typical kid, but with dimples in his smile that would melt anyone’s heart and a laugh that would make your worst day better. He loved to play outside, and had plenty of room with 4 acres. There were forts that had to be built to exact specifications. BMX tracks that needed to be designed and of course managed. There were various small creatures that either needed to be harassed or healed depending on the situation and always the impromptu mud bog that would unfold after a summer rain.
As for sports, Darrin enjoyed playing when it was spontaneous. When it came to organized sports wrestling was one of the ones he enjoyed. Josh Straton, a great friend of Darrin’s, tells the story of them in their wrestling suits and how uncomfortable it was for them because of their size. Josh being the same height as Darrin at this point in their lives. They routinely had friendly competitions of going into the nurses office to see who was the tallest. The small school did not have suits that were big enough to conceal their “budding teenage manliness” (Josh’s words not mine..). The coach would try to reassure them that everything was fine, everyone looked the same, but it didn’t help or keep them from feeling self conscious. The morning football games before class saw Darrin and Josh on opposite teams just to make it fair to all the other kids.
Trips to the grocery store for Mom consisted of at least two grocery carts to take care of the crew! A friend of Moms made the mistake of going to the grocery store with her ONE time. She was so embarrassed that I can’t say she ever went with her again. To help compensate for Darrin’s big growth spurts he consumed copious amounts of Hot and Spicy’s and Dr. Pepper from McDonalds.
Darrin was a prankster, we all got some of that from our Granddad. We could be found at any given time scheming a plan to be ready for when the opportunity would arise. One of Darrin’s favorites was teasing his younger sister, Kate. If you have been oh so lucky to experience her sass, then you know that it was just to easy and fun for Darrin to resist. More then once he got her to her boiling point and “Katy Bar the Door” all you could hear was a very womanly scream and 300 pound footsteps running through the house to seek refuge from Kate and “The Booger Finger”.
Dad surprised everyone one day and brought home the first family ATV. Darrin instantly claimed “DIBS” and put a many miles on it burning up and down the trails and dirt roads at the house and of course upgrading the BMX tracks to a small motocross track.
Darrin finished high school early at the age of 16. He worked at the local furniture store with Mom as well as enrolled at the local college where he took a welding class. A mother and son bond is always close however, working together and going on their lunch breaks together their relationship was brought even closer.
I remember his first car, a Mitsubishi Eclipse, remind you this 16 year old was 6’8″ 320 lbs, he would squeeze into this little 2 door coupe. Seeing him get in and out of this little car was pretty funny so say the least. He always took great pleasure in walking up to us height challenged as he seen it and casually resting his elbow on my head. He was very proud to be able to buy his own quad a Predator 500, currently known as the “Pirate”, which was the victim of one crash or another giving it it’s name. A decent sized bike for most, but of course didn’t seem that way with Darrin on it sliding sideways and easily bringing the front end up for an effortless wheelie.
Hugs, man he gave the best hugs, in our family we are huggers. We hug to say hello and hug to say goodbye and he was good at it.
Little did we know that within 3 short month of finding out something was wrong with him that we would never get one again. Darrin was diagnosed with Glioblastoma at the age of 19. One of the best brain surgeons in the country was on his surgical team and was optimistic that he could remove the whole tumor. After some of the longest hours of our lives we got the news that after seeing the tumor it was to large to retrieve it all. Glioblastoma is a mean and fast growing tumor. Darrin was in and out of the hospital for 3 months after his initial surgery with two additional surgeries to help relieve the symptoms of the tumor.
Mom stayed with Darrin the entire time while Dad kept working, all he could, to keep the family afloat. On the weekends the family would get together to be with Darrin. During all of this up and down inside out life we were living, Darrin kept a positive outlook and sense of humor. I had gone to visit him after work one afternoon in the ICU and the amazing nurse that Darrin had meet me in the hall. Noel said that Darrin hasn’t been up at all that day and none of them have been able to convince him to get up and move around even just a little. I go in there and tell Darrin “ok you know you have to get up and move around lets go!” As he stands up I notice a brown chunk on the bed and as I see it Noel reaches down grabs it and pops it in his mouth! I am beyond grossed out, I start dry heaving, Darrin erupts with laughter. Well the prank was on me….Darrin and Noel had planted a mini Baby Ruth on the bed just for me.
The family was assisted by many generous people from housing for Mom and Darrin, to food on the table for them as well as the family at home. The out pouring of thoughts and prayers was amazing. All the while Bea was off at Boot Camp for the Navy, which was not an easy feat to contact him and have him come home. He arrived the night before Darrin’s passing.
Darrin gave up the good fight on July 13, 2007
Dearly Missed but Never Forgotten!!!