My father is a former Marine who demands respect and discipline, but also has a great sense of humor. Growing up in the Boston area, sports was our common bond.
My early memories are of me constantly getting in trouble, and having to serve misconducts — what are commonly known as “timeouts” today. My father was a hockey referee is his early years, and that carried over to his parenting. Depending on what I did wrong, he’d give me a five minute or ten minute misconduct, which was five or ten minutes having to sit on my bed. A game misconduct meant having to go to bed for the night.
One Fourth of July when I was seven or eight, he caught me playing with a firecracker, and gave me a game misconduct — at one in the afternoon. You can bet I never touched a firecracker again.
They say everything you need to know you learn in kindergarten. Well, I learned everything I needed to know as a 10 and 11 year old caddying for my father. He played golf every Saturday and Sunday, unless there was snow on the ground. He still does. He and his regular foursome were a crude, funny bunch. They taught me about life, women, politics — you name it.
Most of all they helped develop my dry sense of humor. I’ll never forget the time we were on a par three with water on both sides of the green. One of my father’s buddies, whom we called “Duke,” hit his tee shot in the water. So he had to drop a ball by the pond, and hit it from there. He shanked it into the pond. So he dropped another ball, and shanked it into the pond again. And again. And again.
As the rest of us waited up on the green, Duke dumped six or seven balls into the pond. Finally he announced he was down to the last ball in his bag. He put a great pitch shot about four feet from the hole. My father calmly walked over to Duke’s ball, picked it up, and threw it in the water.
I saw the Red Sox bring my father to tears twice. First, when they lost to the Yankees in the 1978 playoff game (Bucky F***ing Dent!), and again after Game 6 of the 1986 World Series against the Mets.
When the ball slipped through Bill Buckner’s legs to give the Mets the win, I remember looking over at my Dad, and seeing one lone tear falling down his cheek. It was heartbreaking.
The only other time I had seen my father cry was two years earlier, when my mother lost her six-year battle with cancer. He held her hand as she died on a Christmas Eve.
How he juggled his job, raising two teenagers, and managing a household all by himself, I’ll never know. It was inspiring. As a father of three now, I can’t imagine doing it alone.
I’ll wrap this up with one if my favorite Dad stories. When I got married, my only request to my wife was to have my favorite beer, Guinness, at the reception. I meant a keg of Guinness, but her mother thought I meant just a six-pack for me. So when we finally got to the reception hall after an hour with the photographer, I asked for a Guinness, but the maitre d’ told me they were all gone. When I asked her who drank them all, she pointed toward the bar, and there was my father, sitting all alone, with a huge grin on his face, toasting me with the last empty bottle.
That’s fine, Dad. You deserved it.
Do you have a favorite memory of your father? Leave us a comment and let us know.
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