Friday, March 4, 2011

Rest in Peace, Dad

Ernest Hemingway once said that you can tell a story in six words.  "For sale, baby shoes.  Never worn."  I'm no Hemingway, but I want to tell some stories about my father, and what he meant to me.  Because I'm no Hemingway, I need seven words to tell these stories.

Dad came to all my track meets.

Dad was a professor, and must have arranged his class schedule so that he was free after 3:00 in the spring semesters.  This meant that he could come to my High School track meets.  Rain or shine - or sometimes snow - he was always up in the stands watching the meet.  Whether I finished first or last, he was there cheering me on.  I never had to wonder who my Number One Fan was.

He didn't have to do this, and I certainly never asked him to.  He did it because he wanted to. When my boys were in Little League or Pop Warner, they never asked me to come to their practices or games.  I did it because I wanted to, and felt the joy of the event - watching your sons strive for excellence - that I hope he felt.

Dad gave me career advice I needed.

Dad taught history, and along the way I picked up a love for it, too.  I majored in it back at State U, in the department where he was Professor.  One day, he took me aside, and told me that it was a fine thing to pursue a study for the love of the material.  He said that things had changed since he entered the field, and suggested that I also study a subject that hedged my career bets.

This was the best advice I ever got.  I continued with my love affair with history, but also majored in engineering.  This opened doors in my professional life that otherwise would have remain shut, bolted, and locked.  It must have been strange for him to warn me off the field where he had had such a fine career himself, but he was right - the field was changing.  He didn't let ego get in his way, but just called it like he saw it.  As was usual, he called it right.

Dad wore his cap & gown to my graduation.

One of the pleasures of going to school where your father teaches is that he was able to wear his Cap and Gown at my graduation.  One of my most prized photographs is of him and me, me in my Cap and Gown, he in his.  Most people have a picture of a proud father watching their graduation; I'm one of the luck few who had a proud father participate in mine.



My best friend joked that Dad just was making sure that tuition payments would indeed be over, but the look of pride on his face in that picture tells the real story.  Not just pride at my accomplishment, but pride that he was able to share in it.

I wouldn't play Trivial Pursuit with him.

My friends sometimes refer to me as a "wickid smaht bahstid".  But if I'm so smart, why did I always lose to Dad at Trivial Pursuit?  He'd ace the History questions, as you'd expect.  But obscure sports trivia?  Science?  He'd pull completely unexpected answers out of his memory, to the point that I at least got so frustrated that I stopped playing the game with him.

When I was dating the girl who was to become my lovely wife, we went to visit Mom and Dad.  After watching us play a game, she said to me, "Now I see where you get it."  That apple didn't fall very far from the tree - not that it ever did me any good in Trivial Pursuit.

I started talking to him again.

This last is the only one of my stories that can approach Hemingway's.  There's grief, and loss, and regret, all packaged up and compressed into six words.  In a dark time of my life, in a fit of madness, I cut myself off from my parents.  There's a whole school of Country Music about what comes from Foolish Pride, but I guess I had to go find it out for myself, up close and personal.  Those lost years are something that I bitterly regret today.

But the Prodigal Son returned, and was welcomed back with open arms.  A phone call was answered.  The last years have been a blessing, made more sweet by what came before.  And this is perhaps the final lesson I take away from Dad.  That life can always begin again. 

One of my two favorite sayings goes The longest journey a man will ever take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart.  I can attest to the truth of that, and say that St. Christopher doesn't watch over that particular journey.  But my Dad did.

The other of my favorite sayings also relates to that journey.  If you found out you were going to die soon, and could only make one phone call, who would you call, and what would you say?

And why are you waiting?



Rest in Peace, Dad.  1928 - 2011.

65 comments:

Phillip said...

I'm sorry for your loss, but glad you have so many good memories of him. My dad was born in 1929, I'll make sure to call him this weekend. Tempus fugit.

Mark Alger said...

I, too, always win at Trivial Pursuit. I'll give you my secret free: guess. I don't always know the answer, but I try to come up with one anyway. Too many people just give up, saying, "Oh, I'll never get that one right."

You have to be willing to fail in order to succeed.

I think there's a lesson in there somewhere, and I think it fits with your tale of your dad.

M

doubletrouble said...

Prayers & best wishes from our house to yours.

"Death is nothing else but going home to God,
the bond of love will be unbroken for all eternity."
~ Mother Teresa ~

May the Lord keep him close. I will add him & your family to tomorrow's prayers.

Deb & Jack

TheUnpaidBill said...

At a time like this any words that I type seem tired, trite, and hollow. Suffice it to say that I grieve for your loss, and I encourage you to celebrate what time your reconciliation brought you. I have seen a friend go through the pain of losing that chance of reconciliation and I am glad you are spared that.

elmo iscariot said...

Condolences.

"Zack" said...

I'm very sorry, Ted. It is a hurt that will not soon end.

Sabra said...

I'm sorry for your loss. I'm glad you had the time with him you did, and that in the end he was someone you could look up to.

Joseph said...

My prayers for you and your family.

soulful sepulcher said...

This is a beautiful tribute, that brought tears to my eyes. Thanks for sharing with us.

Peace to you and your family, I am so sorry for the loss of your father.

David said...

So very sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad last November, and I think about him every day.

Paladin said...

Peace to you, Ted. I'm so very glad that you and your Father were able to reconcile things.

We begin our lives as many men, and end as a single one.

From reading all you've written about him, your Father ended as quite a magnificent "one". And as a Father myself, I am sure that he was very proud of the several men that you still are.

B said...

Dude. My thoughts are with you.

Midwest Chick said...

I'm so sorry for your loss and my thoughts and prayers are with you and your family.

Anonymous said...

I can tell your dad was a great man by the son he raised.

JB Miller said...

Sorry for your loss.

New Jovian Thunderbolt said...

I'm so sorry, BP.

bluesun said...

Borepatch, I know that anything I say will sound hollow, but know that we all care for you and your family. Thank you for the great stories about you dad.

Jay G said...

Rest in Peace, Dad Borepatch.

The measure of the man we mourn is that of the son he raised. I'd say he did one helluva job.

I'm so sorry, Borepatch. Treasure the memories, and take comfort that you will see him again.

Anonymous said...

Borepatch, I'm sorry for your loss. Thoughts and prayers for you and your family during this time.

db said...

Sorry for your loss Borepatch.

George said...

I'm very sorry for your loss, BP.

Bob said...

My condolences. I'm sorry for your loss.

Spikessib said...

Words cannot express what's in my heart so let me just say; I'm so sorry for your loss.

North said...

I am so sorry to hear this. You have graciously shown us a fraction of what your father was and by doing so you show us that you have gained his great qualities.

Irish said...

Sorry for your loss Borepatch.

JD said...

Sorry to hear the news Borepatch. . . We are supposed to outlive our parents, but that doesn't make things any easier. I lost my dad 5 years ago.

Hang in there, and take some comfort in knowing that he may be physically gone, but he is still with you and you will meet again.

Scott McCray said...

My deepest condolences - you will be in my thoughts and prayers.

strandediniowa said...

Our thoughts and prayers are with you and yours.

The life and legacy of a father lives on in his son.

CoolChange©© said...

Our prayers to you and your family. Your words are a great tribute to your father and not wasted on the followers of your blog.

Peace.

ZerCool said...

I don't know what to say - losing my father is the one idea that chills me to my core.

Sounds like your father was a great dad - and you are following in his steps quite well.

My thoughts are with you and yours.

ASM826 said...

When my time comes, I hope there is someone who write about me with this much love.

Peter said...

My heartfelt condolences on your loss, Borepatch. Your dad sounds like a great guy. May you meet again, in a happier place than this.

My dad died a couple of years ago. I'm blessed that I was able to post a memorial to him a year or so before he died:

http://preview.tinyurl.com/27ooqk

I think it brought us closer together, for him to realize I appreciated all he'd done. I'm sure your dad felt the same about you.

God bless, brother.

Southern Belle said...

Thank you for sharing, Borepatch. Your stories truly touched me. I'm sorry for your loss.

Dave H said...

I'm sorry, Borepatch. It's hard, and it doesn't seem to make any difference whether you could see it coming or not.

What does make a difference is the memories you hold. They'll always be a part of you.

But what do I know? Shakespeare explained it best: "Everyone can master a grief but he that has it."

But I do know this: it'll get easier, in time.

Maura said...

My deepest sympathies on the loss of your father, Borepatch.

Anonymous said...

My condolences to you and your family

Old NFO said...

My condolences BP, remember the good and know he's gone to a better place!

Rev. Paul said...

Our condolences, BP. He sounds like a great guy, and you're the proof of that.

Keads said...

My thoughts and prayers are with you and yours sir. My condolences.

Anonymous said...

so many people have already offered beautiful and touching condolences...and that is a tribute to all of them...such lovely people still left in the world! thank you to all of you for touching my heart with your comments!

but now on to your amazing Dad...oh...if only all of the world could have a Dad like that...we might have been able to save the entire world!!!

Your Dad is, was, and always will be honoured to be Your Father. Your job now, and this won't be easy, is to deserve that honour for the rest of your life.

it won't be easy, but it won't be hard either...Your Dad has so much faith in You!

grieve as much as you need to. but don't be afraid to celebrate Him as much as you can...just like you did in this post!

it was an honour to get to meet him!

all of our best to you...i haven't met you and don't want to use your name...so i will call you The Son Your Dad Is Proud Of.

all of our best to you, The Son Your Dad Is Proud Of!!!

xox

Wally said...

BP,
So very sorry to hear. Condolences.

Murphy's Law said...

First of all, I'm really sorry for your loss.
But I think that your father would be proud of the way that you've honored him with this post. I never met the man, but feel as if I did through your words here.

My sympathy to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

That he raised you to be who you are tells much about your father.

That you would write such a memorial tells much about you.

Jim

Catman said...

Beautiful. Your father was, and is, a man among men.

My deepest condolences.

Anonymous said...

My sincere condolences. I too lost my father not long ago. I described the feeling of loss to my wife in this way - the world is a different place now without him in it. Our prayers are with you.

Eagle said...

Our prayers are with you too, BP.

NotClauswitz said...

Prayers and incense! It's so damn hard when they're Professors, I'm glad you got the reconciliation going that is major.
Mine never came to a single High School swim-meet or water-polo game, just the most godawful junior high band Christmas-time thing where my awful trombone playing and lack of practice showed miserably.

Butch Cassidy said...

I'm sitting here watching my kids crawl all over my father and procrastinating on some paperwork. I don't even want to imagine life any other way.

My sincerest condolences for your loss.

Six said...

Lu and I send you our love BP. I'm going to call my Mother right now.

Jennifer said...

Beautiful memorial to a man that was clearly very special. Both to you and, I assume, all lives he touched.
Something that was recently said to me as I mourned a loss touched me deeply and rings true here. You were blessed to have known and loved him.

Anonymous said...

My dad was born in July 1923 and every Wednesday I call him and we talk for 3 hours. I learn so much about everything. Lessons about love, forgiveness, having no ill will towards anyone on the face of the earth, living through the depression on a 10 acre farm in SO. Calif., How to build a house with a cellar underneath with vents to keep a house cool in the summer without air conditioning, rabbit farming, being fair in all your dealings, etc. Been talking with my dad now for 5 years. After I hang up, I always thank the Lord for being able to do so. He is a wise man who is very humble and a teacher just by his actions in life. He is still farming and very fit and healthy. He gives all the credit to the Lord. Jane.

Hat Trick said...

My sincere condolences to you and your family.

This post was a great tribute to the man who raised you.

Anonymous said...

I'm so sorry, BP.

AussieAlaskan said...

BP, I have never met you or your dad but your wonderful tribute brought tears to my eyes, too, and reminded me of my dad - long gone now. I am sad for your loss but thank you for reminding me of things about my dad which are so important to me. It is really nice to remember them - just as your memories of your father are precious.

Josh Kruschke said...

Sorry for your loss. If there is anything I can do, and it is my power I will this includes try to be nice to people on your blog.
;-)

He sounds like a great man and I regret I didn't get a chance to meet him; which is to my loss.
Everytime we lose one of the great ones the world gets a little dimmer with out a renewing of that spirit.

Here's to BorePatch may you one day shine as bright as your Dad,
Josh

Home on the Range said...

"One of my two favorite sayings goes The longest journey a man will ever take is the eighteen inches from his head to his heart. I can attest to the truth of that, and say that St. Christopher doesn't watch over that particular journey. But my Dad did."

Amen. Ted, if you need to talk, doesn't matter what time zone I am in, or what time it IS, you've got my cell. Call. A big hug to you and all around you.

David said...

So sorry to hear this. Beautiful pictures and I'm certain beautiful memories as well.

My best to you and yours.

Robert McDonald said...

I'm very sorry for your loss. Your Dad sounds like the type of person I would have sat around talking to for hours on end.

Blue said...

Peace.

libertyman said...

Your Father continues to influence lives through you, his teachings and his scholarship. Requiescat in pace, sir, and my best wishes to you Ted, and your family.

Mark

Anonymous said...

Very sorry for your loss. I lost my Dad four years ago and every day I get to smile as I recall a shrouded memory. My thoughts and prayer are with you and your family.

Jim said...

My condolences on your loss. I am not looking forward to going through this myself, and can only imagine the pain you are going through. My prayers for you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Oh Ted, I'm so sorry. Just heard this morning. We'll be praying for your family; please let me know if there's anything I can do on this end.

God bless you, erich martell

Dave said...

I'm so sorry to hear about your loss. Do your kids a favor and write down as many stories and facts about your parents as you can. A great man like that should be known to his grandchildren also.

Lawyer said...

Just saw this. I'm sorry for your loss...