Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Losing a Parent & Florida 70.3 (the streak ends)

For the last eight years this week has been about two things, 1) my dad's birthday, and 2) the Florida 70.3.  Baring a miracle, there is less than 1% chance that I'll be on the starting line Sunday.  Instead, I'll be reading the newspaper to my father in either the ICU or hospice which is far more important. 

I hope for safe/easy travels, perfect weather and great competition to all those going to the Florida 70.3.  "Z" puts on a great race and I will miss seeing my central Florida friends.  Judging from my email inbox, my friends understand.  There will be other races.

While I am extremely sad about the prospect of losing dad, my faith knows that he will be in a better place and he will be home again.  What I am extremely thankful for is the time I've been able to have with him and the lessons he taught me.  Moving forward I have a choice, door 1) live and be happy for the time we had together, or 2) be miserable.  I'll choose door one as hard as it seems right now. 

It's never easy losing a person we love, but I believe those who go before us would want us to live and be great.  Especially my dad.  Before this blog goes even more soft, I give you some principles my father taught me:

1) Nothing pays off like hard work and perseverance.

- When we were kids going to a Bulls or Blackhawks game, my dad would drive us through the ghetto in Chicago to show us what other people had or did not have.  He would tell us to remember what we saw.  From the time we were little, we heard, "You WILL go to college and you WILL graduate in four years." My brother and I both graduated from good schools; Mike - Iowa, me - Missouri and soon Notre Dame.

2) Stay in school. Nobody can ever take away your education, be it in life experience or formal education.

- See #1.

3) You have to like the man you see in the mirror and follow his principles.

4) Pay your bills on time.

5) Save money when you can, but make sure you are getting quality.

6) Mind your own affairs.

- Keep your own nose clean before criticizing others.

7) Be thankful for what you have as there are others who are less fortunate.

- It doesn't take long to hear about what you "don't have".  Make sure not to overlook what you do have.

8) Take responsibility for your own actions.

- Own whatever you do regardless of the results.

9) Have fun where ever you are.  Everything can be a game if you choose.

- I remember "shooting baskets" with garbage in the garage and the "agony of defeat".

10) You can always figure "it" out if you just keep trying.

- I remember one exercise I must have done 15 times before I got it right, but when I did, I did it exceptionally well.  I have an additional memory about math lessons and spelling lessons.

On the lighter side...
11) Getting up early to make breakfast for everyone before they get up... may CAUSE everyone to wake up.

- Here's to the 'busted chainsaw' that is my dad in the kitchen at 5am on vacation.

12) No awesome accomplishment cannot be brought down to Earth - quickly.

- I was fishing with my dad in Wisconsin and he caught a MONSTER largemouth bass.  This thing was about 7 lbs.  It was an awesome fight and we landed the fish fairly quickly.  This meant the fight wasn't over for the bass.  (I guess he didn't understand we were going to take his picture and release him.) The bass ferociously shook his head and buried the hook which had been in the jaw of the bass into the thumb of my dad.  The hook was so deep that it looked like a straight piece of steel - the hook and barb buried in the middle of his thumb.  We took pictures of the fish.  Released him unharmed.  Then took an 18 mile drive to the nearest hospital in Minocqua where the hook removal was a routine and daily occurrence near the heavily fished lakes.

13) Good donuts and coffee are a nutritious breakfast.  Enter, the apple fritter.

Love you dad.


  1. Bob, you're right on with every one of your points. My parents taught me the same lessons. And, as you recall my mom's situation almost three years ago, I, too, saw that for as incredibly hard as it is to lose a parent, when they reach the crossover they are leaving pain and suffering and entering a better place.

    Know that you will always carry those lessons with you and that, through pride in making him proud and of course because you feel good about doing the right thing in any situation you face, your dad will be looking down on you and smiling, saying, "that's my boy."

    Know that he will protect you from above.

    Know that your conversations with him -- through your windshield, while you're on a run, or when you need company while working late at night on the computer -- are always listened to.

    Know that nobody can replace him, but at the same time, he's not left you. He'll still be at the Blackhawks game or at church or dinner with you, just kind of in the air and not in the seat next to you.

    Know that there will be other big race dates for you, as there became a new date for me and Sindy to get married. Family above all else. And bring your mom with to the next big race. My dad felt an enormous sense of relaxation and release being with us in El Salvador.

    I know these things from my experience with my mom who is still with me everyday.

    Lastly, know that your family and good friends are by your side whenever you need an ear or a hug. I know that because you were there for me, and I'll do the same for you.


  2. Sounds like you have the best possible attitude about everything you are dealing with. Regardless, it's no easy task - hugs to you both!