So today I am writing this blog post about my dad's birthday. He would've been 90..... yesterday!
Happy birthday pop. I miss you.
He died one week to the day before his 90th birthday. He did acknowledge that this was a big deal this year turning 90 and in some ways I think he wanted, in the beginning of his knowing he was dying, to live to see 90. He made a few comments that were uncharacteristic of him about his birthday that led us to believe maybe he'd make it. That that was his goal.
In the end, life wasn't treating him well enough. He had enough. Turning 90 wasn't as important anymore when he was not enjoying being alive.
I get it Pop, I really do!
I think the most pain I feel about losing my dad is just thinking about how a man who looked upon life as a gift had to suffer at the end of it. That part of life is just not right.
What I wanted to write to you was how many times I thought about you as I bowled this weekend. How the bowlers, many who you never even met, stood silently in thoughts for you, for the loss to our family and to lawn bowling. We then began the tournament. Life goes on. I could hear your voice saying that to me.
And I wanted to tell you how when I finished the first end of the first game all I wanted to do was go down and kick the bowls back like you used to do and how I wished I wore my black shoes with my white socks so when I was corralling them I'd be able to look down and actually see your feet guiding those bowls back to the end so we could start the next end.
I wanted to tell you that we won the tournament for you, but as you know, lawn bowls doesn't always let you do what you want to do. You'd get a kick out of the fact that we lost a game to a couple new club bowlers who really don't understand the game very well, but did what they needed to do to beat us. I know you'd love that because one of your greatest lessons to us was "on any given day anyone can be beaten!" You'd give us that pep talk when we had to play some of the best players in the country.
And as with many, many, many things....you are absolutely right!
I wanted to tell you I played with your bowls, but sadly, I just didn't think of it until I was at the green. You taught us to play with the bowls we have and back in the day those were all we had. Today I still own the lawn bowls you won the Eastern Division singles in 1948 or so when you were around 20, and that I won the Eastern Division singles with around 40 years later when I was around 20.
And I own the set "we" bought you for Christmas one year in the early 70s. (I was too young to really be a part of this, but we got you bowls and me a set of carpet bowls.... that I would ask to play on our living room rug and down at Grampas so so many times before you, and the bowlers of Smithfield Avenue let me use them on the green off to the side.) When you needed to get a smaller bowl later in life we got you another new set, but with the stipulation that I got your bowls again. I always felt they had magic in them. The only reason I don't use them now is because of the rule book and the legible stamp. Rules!!!! I won't get you started pop on the rules!
I will miss you my friend and Pop! I will miss you my dad!
But I don't want to cry anymore for my loss. And I'm writing this because of that. I realize that I am very lucky. For over 52 years I had a dad. And I had a really good dad. One who did his very best for me and my brothers and sister. One who loved my mother and no matter what was going to take care of her. A mentor and more importantly a friend who gave me the gift of his lessons.
In the end of his life he was every bit of the man he was his whole life. Worried about my mom and how she'll get on financially and more. He was worried about her more than worried about what was ahead for him in death. We wasn't a religious man so I'm not sure what he thought as he faced his end. Maybe what I think, which is who knows?
He was a sweet man.
OK so.... my pop........
My pop called me Dicky boy. I just feel like I need to say that out loud. He called me Dicky Boy. I always found comfort in that!
On the other side of comfort, but equally engrained in me as a great memory is this!.
When he was telling stories to others about me that involved another person named Dick, he would refer to me as "my Dick," which I found incredibly amusing, because he didn't once catch himself saying those words and thinking that sounded funny!
I remember when I was in my 40s, I told him how he used to call me Dicky boy and he sorta remembered, but not entirely. But he remembered that conversation and called me Dicky boy one more time after that. Its funny how I can remember that he only called me that one more time. I wear that name with pride.
I will miss my pop!
Above is a picture of the 1992 US Championship contestants. In the middle is me, dad and my brother Bob. Dad and I won the right to compete for the doubles and Bobby won the right to play the singles. Dad and I winning to represent is my proudest moment. Only possibly topped by Bobby and I winning a championship 4 years later with mom, dad and grampa in attendance! To me my father was a better bowler than I'll ever be. He never took top players, he took novices and his kids and competed well. Very well. But this was his only appearance in the championships. And It didn't make his proudest moments because to him it was just another tournament. Even when Bobby and I won in 1996, pop's reaction to us was great. "Good tournament boys!" and a handshake.
And that is all it was, a good tournament! He was a good and wise man! Taught us perspective.
That is what I will always remember most about my dad and what I hope I take into the rest of my days.... perspective. We are here for a time and then its time for the next generation. I read a quote from the Dali Lama that said how we're here on this planet to help one another and if we can't help, do not hurt. I'm never sure if I'm here at all to help, but I sure hope I don't hurt the process of life!
I won’t go on and on, though I have more stories, those we will tell among ourselves at family get togethers and on lawn bowling trips. It is sad that in generations to come we all just become names in a history of a family. If I were to pick out the ones to be remembered by more than a name my dad would be one of those.
I wish we could've bottled his soul.
But each of us can say similar things about the important people in our lives. I grieve by writing these things, others grieve in other ways. But each of us have dad's or others that are influential and we should find ways to make sure they are acknowledged for their contributions to this world.
Everyone should be writing about their own dad and reading your own family’s history to know yourselves better. Write journals, blogs , letters. Remember. Remember the parts of your life with people that matter and love them.
Love them beyond them. That's how we know they are still with us.
I love you pop! I love you my dad and I will miss you the rest of my life. But you are me and my brother and my sister and we will never be able to adequately say thanks. But as you would say. It was a good life boys!
Thanks dad and happy birthday!