One of Jarod Counts' newest hobbies was spending time painting the toenails of his 2-year-old daughter, Jasmin. There were several days in a row when Lydia Kiser — Jasmin's mother and Counts' fiancee of two years — would come home to a new color on her daughter's toes.
And Jasmin would return the favor, as Counts allowed her to paint his big toenails.
"Daddy, you no move," Jasmin would tell him, making him wait for the minute-dry polish to become firm.
Counts was proud of his daughter, Kiser said, and had no shame about showing off his pedicures in public — even at the pool or with his friends.
"He'd take his socks off and show them the creation," Kiser said.
Crash: Counts, 26, of Seven Valleys, died Tuesday at Lancaster General Hospital following a motorcycle crash early on Sunday, July 20.
Counts and Steven Elicker, 29, of Thomasville, were riding their motorcycles west on Route 30 and were coming up on the Malleable Road overpass at 2:12 a.m. Sunday when they were struck from behind by a Hyundai Elantra driven by Joel A. Newcomer, 31, of Dover, according to West Hempfield Township Police. Elicker died at the scene from injuries sustained in the crash.
The two men and another friend were on their way home from Berks County, where they had gone to pick out a campsite for this weekend.
Close with family: Aside from spending time with Kiser and Jasmin, Counts was close with several other members of his family, including his brothers and his mother, Judy Ahalt.
"I always called him my blessing," Ahalt said.
Counts had recently begun working in construction with his brother, Jesse Counts, at Jesse's company, C R Construction Services in New Freedom.
Jarod Counts remembered being on his first job site at about 3 years old, involved in building a house for his late father, Ray "Fuzzy" Counts, Kiser said.
Family construction: He grew up helping on construction jobs with his father and grandfather, Kiser said, and was skilled in the work and in many other hands-on projects, including fixing up cars.
The new job with his brother brought out a certain pride that Counts had in finishing a project, Kiser said.
"I would just hear so much about how satisfied he was with his new job," she said.
Counts also had a love for the outdoors and enjoyed hiking, hunting and trapping with his family, Kiser said.
After Counts' father died two years ago, he and Kiser went online and found a puppy in an SPCA shelter born the day after his father's death. The family drove six hours to the center in Ohio to adopt the pitbull/boxer mix, Kiser said, which they named "Fuzzy" — Counts' father's nickname.
Memories for Jasmin: There are other things Counts' family will remember, too: The long hair he was known for even as a child, the camping and beach vacations and the overalls he wore everywhere.
The overalls were sometimes a cause for argument, Kiser said, because Counts had several pairs he thought were fit for every occasion.
He'd say "that's who I am," Kiser recounted, and save his pairs without holes for special events. Jasmin has a miniature pair just like her dad, Kiser said.
In the future, family members will use photos to remind Jasmin about her dad, Kiser and Ahalt said.
"It's harder when there's someone so little involved," Kiser said.
And other small things will continue for Jasmin, Ahalt said, including making ice cream cone cupcakes — one of Counts' favorite treats, which Ahalt makes by baking cupcake batter into flat-bottom ice cream cones and icing the tops.
"We'll keep his memory alive for her," she said.
— Reach Nikelle Snader at firstname.lastname@example.org.