Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Dec. 10

Laughing. That's best way to think of him. My dad is 56 in this picture, with granddaughters Laura, Kristy, and Stephanie in front of him. A 17-year-old future blogger is at far left. Christmas Eve, 1985.
December 10, 2014 would have been my father's 85th birthday. Thinking of him as 85 years old is as strange to me as it was at 80, 75, 70, etc.

To me, to anyone, he'll always be 59. That's what life does to you. You're thought of as we knew you.

But I wonder. I wonder what the past 25 plus years would have been like. How do things change? That's how strong the impact of his loss has been felt. Lives were change forever.

I know. I've no doubt discussed this all here before. I wonder what he would have thought of the grandkids he never met. What would he have thought of career choices, spouses, splits, triumphs, and tragedies?

How would he have reacted to the '96 Yankees? Would it have been a father-son bonding moment or no big deal?

What would he have thought of my radio work?

Would he have an iPad? Would I have loaded it with countless music? Would he have an email address or care about social media?

Would there have been a retirement?

Would modern technology have given him comfort, instead of the constant physical pain he lived in?

It reminds me of a story. A story of, arguably, the saddest night of my life, until he passed away in 1989.

I was probably eight or nine. We're talking, roughly, 1977. The pain in his legs was miserable one night, and though he was usually the soundest sleeper not named "Sean Adams," he couldn't sleep on this night.

I'd heard him snore before. I'd heard him moan in pain, but generally sleep through it. This night was different.

I heard him in the living room with my mother. The pain, by my young ears, seemed unbearable. He moaned. He groaned.

He sobbed.

My mother was consoling. Comforting. But on this night, there was nothing but despair from the old man.

I couldn't sleep. I don't remember anything of my siblings, who may or may not have been home, as they were both deeper into their later teens.

I came out of my room at one point, only to be shooed back into it. While the pain was very apparent, it was still easier with me out of sight.

What sticks out at me - what really has stayed with me all these years - was him talking about not being able to take me to ballgames.

I went to two Yankees games with my dad. We went as a family in 1972 and 1973. They beat the Orioles in '72, and the Royals the next year. A guy named Murcer had a double off of Jim Palmer in that first game.

The hook of baseball struck and it's never left.

Indeed, my dad would get me to games and other events whenever possible. So I went to Yankee Stadium with relatives. Friends. Other fathers.

This is not some sob story. I loved whatever time I had with him, and never resented any of that stuff.  I just wanted to make his pain go away. He made sure my mom and his kids came first. Physically, he simply could not be comfortable at a game. You can say maybe he should have swallowed his pride for a wheelchair or whatever, but I'm not going to question that.

It was a different time. A different world. A different life. And I won't let the passage of time make things appear 20/20.

There's an awful picture of us, taken on the day of my graduation from high school. Long story short: he didn't go. The pain of knowing he's not going is apparent in his face.

I smiled. I knew he was proud of me, and he was my dad. Sure, I was sad he didn't go, but I understood. I can still recall calling the house before the ceremony began to see if he was coming.

I think about him every day. Every. Day. I probably mention him more than I should, and have often apologized in case you're sick of reading about him.

His impact on my life can't be measured. I want to believe we go somewhere special when we die. I'd like to think, maybe, he's watching Patton, or listening to The Drum Battle (he always said Gene Krupa was better than Buddy Rich).

Most importantly. He's in my heart, and by telling you about him, I often hope you'll love him just a little.

Happy 85th, Pop.


December 10th holds another significance this year. My friend Susan Shultz, editor of the Darien Times, wife, mother of Lucy and Annabelle, is the author of The Blacksmith: Tales From the Graveyard, Novella 1.

I expect you to say, "Rob. She's your friend. You're just supporting her." There is truth in that. I read it because my friend asked me to.

I was blown away. It's deep. Complex. Even, shall we say, mature.

So go visit the website, via her publisher, Full Fathom Five, and support a very talented person.

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