Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Happy Belated Birthday Grizz!

My father celebrated his 65th birthday with our extended family at a nice dinner party a few weeks ago.  Greta tagged along, which was great to have her with us.  Unfortunately, we had to hit the road early because it was a "school night."  The following was a toast I wanted to share at the post-party we never attended, which I e-mailed to the family later.  Figured it was worthy of a blog post!

When I was applying to colleges, I fell in love with UVM the minute I first visited there.  But money being money, it was going to be a challenge to finance the tuition as an out-of-state student.  Since 1993 was essentially a pre-Internet age, I borrowed a library book about scholarships and started hammering out applications on our electric typewriter.  

During this process, Dad told me how there was a scholarship offered at work.  Immediately, because it was his idea and I already knew everything I needed to know as a wise 17 year-old, I was skeptical and poo-poo'd his suggestion.  Undeterred, Dad told me to just "do it" and see what happens.  After much arm twisting, I filled out the application and away it went.

Months went by and the deadline to enroll in school was getting closer.  By spring, I was working part-time at the mini-golf and batting cage place behind the Brick House ice cream shack in Hooksett.  I was either dispensing tokens or raking up baseballs when I looked up and saw Dad walking over.  He had a big shit-eating grin on his face.  I noticed he was carrying some kind of oversized UPS envelope.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  
Sure enough, our ship had come in.  I got the scholarship and we (me and the bank of Mom and Dad) were able to afford UVM.  He was right.  I was wrong.  As usual.  

Growing up, I had a few shining moments in sports or school or other stuff where he had witnessed whatever the occasion was.  He was subtle in his praise, always encouraging me but also making sure that I not let my head get too big.  

But when the AIG scholarship came through, Dad seemed genuinely proud.  Now part of his satisfaction was probably due to his being right and me being wrong (see above) but I think part of it was also that he was proud of me.   And that felt really good.

Fast forward nine years later to 2002.  I was in my last year of law school and working during the day.  I was living at 83 Westland.  Late one Sunday night, Dad showed up after a hasty phone call an hour earlier to make sure I was around.  When Dad arrived, he was carrying another letter.  He handed it to me and told me to open it.  

Sadly, the letter was from Roshaun's mother telling me that he had passed away.  To be honest, the remainder of that night is kind of a blur looking back.  All I know is that we grieved the loss of our beloved friend together.  I am tearing up now just thinking about it.  I'm glad I only have to write this story rather than tell it out loud to all of you because I would probably be a chin quivering mess.

My point is that in really good times, my father has been there for me to celebrate and enjoy the afterglow.  He has also been there for me in the tough times, as well.  Not only was Dad there metaphorically - he was literally present to deliver the news, both good and not.  

As a father and a friend, how could you ask for anything more than that?  As a father myself now, I will always appreciate and treasure those two moments as a lesson in parenthood and friendship.   

Thank you Dad for all of your love and support these past 40 years.  I love you for always being you.  I hope I can measure up some day.

Love always,