Ten days after arranging for her dad to become maybe the first Ohio State fan ever to participate in an O-H-I-O cheer at his own funeral, Juli Miracle remains convinced he would have loved it.
It doesn't matter to her that her mom chose not to pose for the photo. It doesn't matter to her that her brother begged her not to do the cheer. And it doesn't matter to her that a smattering of humorless Internet commenters have called her family "classless" and "creepy" after word of the stunt spread this week.
To Miracle, using the open casket as the "I" in the O-H-I-O cheer was a fitting tribute to her father. Not only was 80-year-old Roy Miracle an ardent Buckeyes fan who rarely missed a football game on Saturdays in the fall, he also was a prankster with a notoriously mischievous sense of humor.
"I've seen comments online that make me out to be the grieving daughter who's laughing at a funeral, but this was a celebration of his life," Miracle said by phone Wednesday night. "He loved Ohio State and his sense of humor was huge. That had to be represented."
At a time when Ohio State fans routinely show off their school pride by posing for O-H-I-O pictures from lavish weddings, tropical beaches or foreign landmarks, the photo from Roy Miracle's funeral has still caused a stir. Since Juli sent it to Ohio State earlier this week under the headline, "Now dad is the permanent 'I,'" the photo has been picked up by local newspapers, national websites and even Deadspin.
The idea for the O-H-I-O cheer struck Juli soon after her father's July 1 death as she reminisced about how much he enjoyed watching Buckeye games at her house during the final 20 years of his life. She went forward with her plan even without her brother Steven's support, dressing Roy in his trademark red Ohio State turtleneck and recruiting a cousin and a friend to be in the photo with her.
"People have been texting me and calling me, 'Your photo's on this and your photo's on that,'" Juli said. "I even talked to the funeral director today, and she said she told her daughter to DVR the two late-night shows, Letterman and Leno. She said, 'You know you're going to be on there.'"
Although Juli is dreading the start of football season in the fall because she can't imagine watching the Buckeyes without her father, she takes solace in the fact that he'd have enjoyed her tribute to him very much.
"I know he'd have a grin on his face and he'd be laughing," Juli said. "It could not have been more perfect."