Friend a Day – Jerry Wick
This is a tough one but I wrote about my mom for Mother’s Day so I decided to write about my dad for Father’s day.
Dad died in 1986. Father’s day has been hard for me ever since because it reminds me of something that I lost. Even though I have my own kids now, my emotions around Father’s day are a little bittersweet.
When writing about him, I worry that my memories of him aren’t really who he was but rather the faint memories of someone who is so far in my past, I will never really know who he was. But I’m going to write some of the good things I remember and that will have to do.
In college, my friends would talk about the difficult relationship they had with their parents and I felt almost guilty because I got along with my parents very well. They were both smart, supportive, and funny.
Dad taught computer programming for Control Data in those days. I didn’t know a lot about his job but I know that he would regularly go out of town to teach his courses and the places he went sounded amazing. He went to San Francisco a lot. He went to Europe a lot. He went to Israel. He died while on a business trip in Austria.
What I remember from those trips was how he always seemed to find time to experience the place he was visiting. Yes, he was there to do a job and he did it very well. But he wasn’t going to let the job spoil the opportunity to check out a new and interesting place.
He loved to walk. He played a lot of golf and I think at least part of his enjoyment of the game was the opportunity to spend the morning walking in a beautiful place. He went to see the opera the night he died and the people he was with offered him a ride back to his hotel. He said no because he wanted to walk back.
There was a silly side to him that I remember finding a little bit embarrassing when I was a teenager. I remember one time I was listening to the soundtrack from “Cats” because I was obsessed with that musical after seeing it in London. The song Macavity came on and Dad began to sing it to me. He had this look on his face that I always remember. It was bright and energetic and a little bit mischievous.
My grandfather often told of a time that he and Dad were on a train trip and they played 99 games of cribbage. Dad won every game. In fact, dad won almost every game of everything. He was just that much better than others when it came to such things. He’d play bridge almost every week in a dining room filled with smoke. I tried learning the game a few times but it never captured my imagination.
Dad made up stories about a lot of things. Once, we asked him why Chelwood Elementary School was named that way and he made up a story about Chelwood the chapion Tic-Tac-Toe playing cat and the King of New Mexico. Years later we would have a cat named Chelwood because of that story.
I could tell a lot more stories about Dad that would explain more about why I liked and loved him so much. He was a great role model.
When I think about him, it makes me wish I believed in an afterlife just so I would have a chance to see him again. The memories are good, though, and while they aren’t enough, they will have to do.
Father’s day is a good time to remember the dads we still have and the dads we’ve lost. Whatever category you fall in, I hope you take a moment to remember the good things about your dad.
Happy Father’s Day dad. I miss you.