"YOU DON'T KNOW EVERYTHING!"
My dad didn't yell at me much. He might be the kindest hearted person to ever live. (OK, maybe Mother Theresa, Ghandi and Lily Sayer, my grandmother, might be in contention for the crown!) So when he gave this one sentence to me when I was a teenager standing in the TV room of our house in Scituate, RI, it hit me between the eyes. Dad yelled at me - I wasn't used to that. I was suddenly reduced to a pea-sized pebble with absolutely no clue. This sounds dramatic perhaps, but I was a smug teenage jerk and this is how my dad, in a very subtle way, told me that is exactly what I was.
And then it was over!
And we moved immediately on. Well he did. He wouldn't hold any of it against me. He said his peace - I listened. He was right - I was wrong. We moved on.
My dad is a teacher. A man who believes in teaching people to enjoy life. He laughs all the time. He knows the world is a serious place and the responsibilities to life need to be taken to heart, but he also knows we need to laugh!
Me... I'm still learning!!
Today we lost this wonderful man.
He was born July 23, 1928. He was.... is a good man!
Hard to feel too much sadness for such a long and good life, but he was my dad.... So today I give myself the indulgence of sadness.
I love you pop!
We didn't say that much to each other, but it was assumed! (Assuming in my family is usually just as good thanks to a favorite story about my grandfather, pop's dad. Gramps was told one time that it might be nice if he thank my mom once in awhile for the meals and care she gave to him and he was shocked, and simply said--"I thought it was assumed!!!!!!"
We laugh about this all the time. I love my family!)
My dad knows how much I love him and respect him. It was assumed!
A little perspective:
My dad was drafted during the Korean war. He served! While over in Korea he obtained, through a connection with his aunt Toots McCall, a pen pal. This pen pal was Nancy Ann Williams and they wrote letters back and forth.
They had not met.
I stumbled upon a few of these letters decades later in the crawl space of our house in Scituate. I read a few, but realized these were personal and didn't read them all. My dad had a flare for words, a corny flare, but a flare none-the-less.
In any event, his words did something and I'm guessing Nancy's words to him did even more because when he arrived back in the states the first person he wanted to visit when his parents picked him up was Nancy!
(Now this statement is just for family--does anyone else see Josh and Debbie in this picture--Josh is George and Nancy's grandson--so resemblance is a given-- and Debbie is Josh's beautiful wife)
I am incredibly struck by the fact that my existence is entirely based on a pen pal relationship during a war that is technically still going on(or was it ended recently????)
My mom and dad have been together since the beginning of Rock-n-roll. So today I can't even imagine what is going through her mind. The last time I saw them together, a little more than a month ago, dad was in the hospital and she was saying goodnight as we were going to leave him for the night. They still kissed each other goodnight!
64 years and they still kiss each other goodnight!
I've cried each time I've thought about this today. My mom won't have her George to kiss goodnight. My sadness seems petty compared to this.
This man gave me his attention, his lessons on life, his game and his unique perspective on relationships, love, dedication to your truth and even religion. This picture taken at the National Open tournament in 1978 is my favorite picture of me and my dad together. I'm sure he was saying something funny but the way he glances at me in this picture makes me know he was proud of me. (by the way--the other guy in this photo is my grampa Ray Sayer, George's dad. We bowled as a three-generation team). Grampa was a young 81.
Dad gave me my sport. He did this by taking me into a national tournament as a little kid. He took me into every tournament and would come home from work to pick me up a couple times a week for more games.
He did the same for my brothers a few years earlier. With me it stuck. With my brother Bob, it stuck. And as a result of this man's sacrifice when he was one of the best player's in the division and could've won tournament after tournament with another top player, but took us instead, teaching us and Bobby and I have since have won a couple of national championships.
You see, dad is a teacher. His thought was - lawn bowls could grow if we all taught. He didn't pick a team to win, he picked a team to compete while getting better, while growing the sport and interest. His idea is - train, graduate his trainees to train others and then move on to train the next group.
He is a selfless man.
He could've tamed up with another top bowler and won a national championship long before Bobby and I did, but he chose to teach. To nurture. To bring up the next generation.
He is a great man!
There are so many stories I want to tell. My dad had dozens of classic lawn bowling stories. He told my brother his two proudest moments in bowling was winning the Eastern Division doubles with basically a novice and when he and Bobby beat the kings of lawn bowls at the club level stopping them from advancing. The greatest line in lawn bowls came out of this game, the one guy on the other team said "I guess I'll have to unpack my bags!" because he was sure they would beat this club bowler playing with his 13 year old son!
But my stories with my dad are this. He took me into this game and taught me. He would teach me as if I was an adult. Within a couple years he promoted me and told me what that really meant. During that time he would make sure i could play even if he wasn't around. Then he had his dad take me to a tournament he couldn't play in and that formed a bond that I'll never be able to repay him for. I got to be best friends with my grandfather. The guy in that 3 generation photo above to the right of my dad.
So then my dad would take guys that are novices and I was grampas partner. What a gift to me. What a gift to those novices!
My dad is selfless!
But my dad isn't just a lawn bowler. His lessons are many. Mostly practical ones like always put your wallet in the same pocket because it will feel weird if it isn't there and you'll remember to get it. Same with keys, but with keys, if you stop your car, even if you're sitting in it, take them out and put them in your pocket! That way you won't lock them in if you quickly get out of the car and forget they are in the ignition. A lesson proven true twice in my life when I didn't listen!)
And the responsibility of driving a car is akin to having a loaded gun. And he is absolutely right on that!
Dad isn't religious but he believes in this passage from the bible. "Do unto others as you would have them do unto you!"
God I love this man. He needed to live forever!
I could, and will say much more about him as a human being, but there is no greater legacy to this man than this. He was the kindest man I have ever known. My brother said it best. He was the kindest soul that has ever lived! (ok ... mother theresa....etc...)
When I saw this, I saw every single inch of my dad in a single picture. It was part of a frame with my niece and my mom on either side. But i looked into this kind face and saw everything he ever taught me and lessons I'm still trying to learn from him as i try to walk forward in my own footsteps that he has given me!
I truly don't think I can give in this life the life my dad has given!
I love you pop! Thank you for this life!
I cannot thank you enough! What you gave me, and mom gave me the ability to hug, these are the things that have made me who I am!
RIP Pop! I love you! But I guess that was assumed.