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  • Your Dad

    I have to do this because I need to tell somebody about this and my wife is in New Hampshire right now.

    Eight years ago to this day, my father died. He was a great Dad, as so many Dads are. He was always very supportive of any of my sports endeavours and worked hard to give me every opportunity he never had. Dad was a national calibre cyclist and speedskater who went to the Olympic Trials in both sports, though he never made the team. But interest in those sports was what got me interested in the Olympics and watching track & field.

    Dad had a great life - got pneumonia when he was 86 while still in very good health and died within a few days. Actually a great way to go, as we all must.

    The night before he died I drove up to Washington DC to see him at the hospital. The Tour de France was going on that day and we talked for awhile about it while he was lying in his hospital bed. It was a day on which Lance Armstrong crushed the field climbing the Hautacam.

    Dad asked me how Lance had done, and I told him "He put four minutes into the leaders on the Hautacam." He then told me he was tired and wanted to go to sleep, and that I should drive back to Durham. He died that night and those were the last words we ever spoke.

    They climbed the Hautacam today in the Tour and they just showed Lance on that climb from 2000. I guess its OK if I just cried a bit again.

    Any stories about your Dad?

  • #2
    That is a very moving story, Bill. Thank you for sharing something so personal.

    I am blessed to still have my dad (78) here to keep me grounded with tales of life back in the "good old days" -- you know, those good old days that really actually sucked for the most part.

    His father was killed when my dad was 3, and my dad had to go to work in the oil fields when he was 12 to help support the large family, but he still had time at school to be a manager for the track team at Baytown (TX) Lee HS, where they had some rather good relays over the years.

    Looking back through some of his faded pictures from the '40s when I was young sparked my interest in the sport, and he has always encouraged me despite the comparatively meager fiscal rewards to pursue my love of track and field.

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    • #3
      The last time I saw my father was when I was 10 years old-on Christmas Day.
      He gave me a shiny red bike, my first two wheeler, as a present.
      I remember riding out to the car with him and he told me to ride safely and help my mum look after my brother and sister. He promised we would go horseback riding when he got back from his 3 month business trip to the Phillipines.

      I barely paid much attention to his words because I was so excited about the bike but to this day i can still see the old white station wagon turn the corner and go out of sight.

      He was killed in a car accident about three weeks later.
      I felt so guilty that my priority had been that bike and not saying goodbye.

      I kept riding the bike but i always felt a twinge of guilt and sadness when I did.

      That is a very moving story anout your dad bambam. Thanks so much for sharing it.

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      • #4
        Thanks Bam, gm, and mojo. These are the best posts I've seen here in all these years.

        My Dad was always old as far as I knew! He was 48 when I was born, 62 years ago so he'd be 110 now. He passed away 21 years ago. A solid, stubborn Missouri farm guy who didn't graduate from high school until he was 21 -- I think that had something to do with his own dad wanting to keep him on the farm instead of going off to WW I. A little wiry guy with powerful, but gentle hands who always told me to avoid "roughnecks". He'd work 12 hours a day and then come home and watch TV wrestling and become enraged by the incompetence of the referees ( "Couldn't he see that low-blow !?!")

        During the Vietnam era he consistently counseled me to avoid the military, or if I couldn't, to join the Navy ("At least you won't have to sleep in the dirt!"). Thing is, my Dad had an old school, almost tribal, attitude. He could understand getting mad at the neighbors or your brother-in-law and wanting to fight him, but the idea of going half-way around the world to fight strangers never added up to anything he thought his family should be involved in. He was a genuinely odd guy. I miss him still.

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        • #5
          Re: Your Dad

          Originally posted by bambam
          I have to do this because I need to tell somebody about this and my wife is in New Hampshire right now.

          Eight years ago to this day, my father died. He was a great Dad, as so many Dads are. He was always very supportive of any of my sports endeavours and worked hard to give me every opportunity he never had. Dad was a national calibre cyclist and speedskater who went to the Olympic Trials in both sports, though he never made the team. But interest in those sports was what got me interested in the Olympics and watching track & field.

          Dad had a great life - got pneumonia when he was 86 while still in very good health and died within a few days. Actually a great way to go, as we all must.

          The night before he died I drove up to Washington DC to see him at the hospital. The Tour de France was going on that day and we talked for awhile about it while he was lying in his hospital bed. It was a day on which Lance Armstrong crushed the field climbing the Hautacam.

          Dad asked me how Lance had done, and I told him "He put four minutes into the leaders on the Hautacam." He then told me he was tired and wanted to go to sleep, and that I should drive back to Durham. He died that night and those were the last words we ever spoke.

          They climbed the Hautacam today in the Tour and they just showed Lance on that climb from 2000. I guess its OK if I just cried a bit again.

          Any stories about your Dad?
          My dad was a U.S. Navy musician who collected boxes of diving and swimming medals and boxed competitively in his Fleet Championships. He said he palled around with Buster Crabbe and Wiesmuller, and some other athletes when he qualified for the '36 olympic swim trials. Don't know how much was fact, but he did have a slew of medals and some photos with Crabbe and some others in them.

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          • #6
            My was 80 years old when he died of medical malpractice. He had Alzheimer's at the time, and so the fact that the doctors totally botched the treatment of his kidney problem seemed less of a tragedy than it otherwise might have been. Perhaps if he had been himself, he might have dealt with the docs better than my mother did. I don't dwell on this. He was not himself, and hadn't been for several years.

            My father was a high school principal before he retired, and he was extraordinarily intelligent and knowledgable about a wide range of subjects. He was the kindest, most decent human being you'd ever want to meet. He taught me much of what I ever needed to know about life, both by instruction and by example. He also took me to my first track meet.

            Over the years, I've also thought of my father at many important moments in my life, and I've reflected on how he would have reacted to them. I believe he would have been proud of my successes, and forgiving of my failures. I can't truthfully say that I think of him every single day, but even without this thread, I would have thought of him today; he died on this date 21 years ago.

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            • #7
              My father taught me a love of all sports, as he was a former basketball and baseball player. But of even greater importance he taught me integrity. He's the most honest person I have ever known.
              The last time I saw him, about 3 weeks before he quickly died of pneumonia at age 86, I had said good bye, and had turned around and was walking away from him, feeling darn sad about it. I then overheard him saying to another Retirement Home resident, " He's a good boy." ( I was 53 at the time.)

              So to the very end, I was " his boy." A very nice memory for me.

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              • #8
                My dad died 22 years ago at age 66, sitting at his desk, writing letters, after a morning 18 (shot 78 that day) and two sets of tennis also. It was the perfect way to go - the heart just stopped and he looked like he had fallen asleep at his desk.

                Of all the great memories I have of him, one has always stuck in my mind. I was about 8 and out sledding on the big neighborhood hill. Two unfamiliar bullies came by, took my sled, and pushed my face down in the snow. I ran home and told my dad. He said to go back and get my sled back (the bullies were about 12). I said I couldn't and he said, 'then you won't have a sled, I guess." I went back out, too scared to confront them. and waited for them to leave. They took my sled with them, so I followed them (probably a mile, seemed farther) and 'stole' it back when they went inside. The next day, I saw a 6-year-old with a better sled than I, pushed him down, took his sled and sledded with it. He ran home, got his dad, who came out, spanked me (!!), took me to my home and told my mom. When my dad came home, he spanked me, and sent me to my room for the rest of the day, without supper. I asked him why he hadn't stuck up for me like the other dad did, and why he punished me, when those other kids had gotten off scott-free. He answer has always stuck with me (though not verbatim, of course). The message was:

                "There are many 'unfair' things that happen in our lives. We need to learn to deal with them as soon as possible. Other people may be 'bad', but we (our family) may never be bad in return. We cannot control all the things that happen to us in our lives, but we can control how we deal with them. No matter what happens, you must be nice to other people. Otherwise you no better than they are."

                That has been a very hard lesson in my life - the metaphorical turning of the cheek. When others hurt us, we want them to feel how it felt. But I have always TRIED to do the right thing (esp. for 20 years in the Navy with some real JERKS.)

                P.S. Yeah, I still miss my dad (and mom) too.

                Comment


                • #9
                  When I think of my father, this is one thing that comes to mind...

                  And you may find yourself living in a shotgun shack
                  And you may find yourself in another part of the world
                  And you may find yourself behind the wheel of a large automobile
                  And you may find yourself in a beautiful house, with a beautiful wife
                  And you may ask yourself -- well...how did I get here?
                  Talking Heads "Once in a Lifetime"

                  I'm not sure he ever really figured out how he got there......and I'm not at all certain that he was there in terms of perhaps possessing a preference for excursions of the imagination to extricate himself from where he was...just a guess...

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                  • #10
                    Nice subject. Just spoke to my 82 year old dad this afternoon. He was all excited that he'd received some of his Olympic tickets today. I'll be joining him (and my mother) in Beijing on August 13th.

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      My Dad was a fisherman who did intelligence for the West in his spare time...or was it the other way around? He was pretty old school but progressive at the same time and had a knack of seeing the big picture regardless of the circumstances.

                      Link to Cman's Dad

                      Dad was among other things in British Intelligence during WWII and the first Canadian volunteer of Japanese heritage to fight for the Allies. Unfortunately he contracted malaria and dysentry while in Burma which was disabling as he was also born with syringomyelia. (The late golfer Bobby Jones is probably the most famous person with this neurological condition.)

                      A quote by my Dad from: Japanese Internment Camps in Canada

                      "Many of us had volunteered for the Canadian Army. But we had been refused till finally the British got desperate and sent a man out from England to see if they could recruit Nisei (Young Canadian Japanese). So thats fine, if we can't go as a Canadian we'll go in British uniform. So we joined up in the British Pioneer Corps as corporals. We were going to go overseas, and dammit, we waited and waited and nothing happened! We found out there was a terrific wrangle in Parliament that says we can't-they can't go overseas in foriegn uniforms!... And apparently during the debate somebody got the bright idea, if they're going to go, they're going in Canadian uniforms. So at the last minute they changed their mind and demoted us to privates in Canadian Intellegence and we went over-seas. They said, what's the matter with you, are you crazy? They've taken away everything you own, moved you by force out of the place you lived at and insulted you in every way possible-and you're going to go and take some more of it?"

                      cman

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                      • #12
                        After a succession of strokes/heart attacks, my dad was repeatedly hospitalized the last year of his life.. .He could be pretty feisty and plain spoken. His last campaign was to successfully demand the removal of hundreds of dollars for "occupational therapy", in addition to physical therapy, from his hospital bill. His argument (bowlderized) was, " I am 89 *****years old and dying, what ****occupation are the ******** preparing me for?"

                        Mostly, I remember his encouragement and absolute faith and conviction that I could do anything he set his mind to, which sometimes led to his making promises on my behalf that I had difficulty fulfilling.
                        In the early days of WWII, I was about 12-13 years old and enjoying some notoreity in Golden Glove boxing. In the state tournament, I came up against an 18 year old sailor home on leave. I managed. arguably unfortunately, to hit him early in the bout, dislocating the thumb on my right hand. Not that it mattered, I was reduced to fighting the last two rounds essentially one-handed. That swabbie never knocked me down he but he pounded me from "pillar to post" unmercifully. When the carnage ended, my dad demanded an immediate re-match.. I told him, "Dad, you can fight him if you want to but he has convinced me."

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                        • #13
                          deeply moving stories

                          thanks for sharing

                          my dad is 81, a retired scientist, brilliant guy, and i give thanks every day that he's still healthy and going strong. he walks two miles a day, is involved in many political activities and keeps busy, as does my mom. they live only 45 minutes or so away so get to spend time with their grandkids regularly. we speak almost every day.

                          i am truly blessed.

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                          • #14
                            Great stories everyone.

                            cman- your father was a truly amazing person. What a life! 8-)

                            Comment


                            • #15
                              My dad died April 13 this year from a brain tumor. Here's what I said about Dad in my eulogy at his funeral. This is actually a transcript that my assistant typed from an audio recording of the funeral that the church did because I had no prepared text or notes. I spoke for about 20-25 minutes, so this is fairly long, and to be fair I haven't even proofread it yet. Here it is:

                              The ancient Greek philosopher Diogenes was said to have wandered the streets of Athens with a lantern, looking for an honest man. Too bad he wasn’t around the last 75 years. It would have been a short search. Diogenes claimed he never found that man, but we are here to honor him today. We’re not here to mourn Dad, we are here to honor him.

                              Dad’s honesty was but one of the many traits he would be remembered for. Dad was gentle and strong. He was patient, thoughtful, had a fantastic sense of humor, which you’ll hear about in a minute. He had a great twinkle in his eye which flared up when you knew something was coming. But you know, for everything Dad did, the one thing that he was, was humble. If you stop and think about it, how many times did anybody ever hear Dad talk about himself? He didn’t. That is why I’m here today. I’m going to do it for him.

                              You know, Reverend Lavoie just mentioned that Dad grew up in a home that was "materially poor and spiritually rich." We know that for two reasons. We know about the materially poor part because of some of the stories that persist from that time. We know about the spiritually rich part because of the man he grew up to become. When we talk about being materially poor, I’m not talking about being materially poor by today’s standards. I’m talking about being materially poor by Depression standards. Dad told me this story only once, about the Christmas that his only gift was a used pocket comb from his father because that was all they could afford. We aren’t talking about being materially poor in the sense that you didn’t have enough money to buy something you wanted. We are talking about not having enough food.

                              Dad used to tell me the story of when he’d go out to check the cattle in the morning, he’d get on a tractor and he would take this old $12 Montgomery Wards blunderbuss of a shotgun with him, this old double barrel and exactly two shells because that’s all they had. And there was a hill that when Dad got to the top, you could see three ponds. From those three ponds he would pick out the one that had the most ducks on it, to better enhance the chances that they would eat that day. If you look out there in the medals case, one of the medals you will see from Dad is a sharp-shooter medal. You learn to shoot like that when you’ve got two shells and that is the only thing you’re going to eat that day.

                              Grandma, I’m sure this was no reflection on your cooking, but Dad to this day can not eat duck.

                              Dad also was guided by, I think, one principal in his life and that was doing what was right. The flag-draped coffin today and the military honors that he will receive are because of his service to his country. Dad was a very loyal supporter of our Armed Forces and a very proud veteran. But, when he went to work for the Atomic Energy Commission at Bendix, he quit that job for reasons that very few people know. You see, Dad’s job at Bendix was to build the firing mechanisms for nuclear warheads. And driving home one night to his new wife and his newborn daughter, it dawned on him that he was helping to build something that he thought could end the world. So he left that job and he went to work for FAA. And that is just one example of how Dad’s values infused everything he did.

                              I remember once when I was in college, I was struggling with what I wanted to be when I grew up. I can remember vividly, I can remember where we were in the car. We were driving along and I was kind of chatting with Dad about what I wanted to do and which direction I thought I wanted to go in. He was just shaking his head and kind of smiling. It was like "You don’t get it kid." He was kind of waiting for me to figure something out. Finally, he said, "Do you have any idea what the definition of career success is?" I said, "No, apparently not." He said, "It’s not awards. It’s not accolades. It’s not fame. It’s none of that. Here is when you’ll know you’ve had a successful career. You will know you have had a successful career when you get paid to do something that you love so much that you would pay for the privilege of being able to do it."

                              Dad had a way of taking complicated problems like that and in just one or two sentences suddenly making everything clear. I’m going to give you a few examples of that. I think my Dad may have been one of the wisest people I’ve ever known. You are going to notice something in common about these examples. They all involve severe character defects or poor judgement on the part of his son and Dad’s very succinct correction of same.

                              I had gotten in trouble with some, well let’s say, shall we say, some authority figures on one occasion. And as Dad was reading me the riot act, I tried to use the "But everyone was doing it Dad" defense. You know what Dad’s response to that was? "Son, just because you are in a pig pen doesn’t mean to you have to wallow." Took me a second to get that one, but I figured it out pretty quick.

                              On another occasion, I had gotten frustrated with something I was having to wait on. I don’t even remember what it was now. I lipped off and said something about, "Well, I guess I just need to pray for more patience." And Dad laughed and said, "No you don’t. In fact, never pray for patience." And I said, "Why not Dad?" And he said, "Because you won’t like how you’ll be taught."

                              There was another occasion when I came home from school and I’d gotten into a fight with a kid. And I’m waiting up in my room for Dad to come home. Dad comes home and Mom tells him what happened downstairs. He comes in and sticks his head in my room and he says, "I just got two questions for you. Mom told me what happened and I just got two questions for you." And I said, "What’s that Dad?" He said, "Who threw the first punch?" I said, "He did." He said, "Okay, my second question is who won?" I said, "I did." He said, "Son, I’m going to give you two

                              (Continued)

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