The last few months have been the most difficult of my life. Even so, I am thankful that we had this extra time with Dad.
I have so many memories of times with Dad, it's hard to know where to start, so I'll just jump in.
But first, I would like to talk about two of his greatest loves in life. Basketball and Cars.
Basketball Of the two, I would say basketball was his number one. He loved to play, and if he couldn't play, then to watch, particularly the Boston Celtics, later the Seattle Sonics, and most recently, the Los Angeles Lakers. Although he was always a Celtics fan at heart.
Just about everywhere we lived, we had a basketball hoop. In all cases these hoops were installed by him with help from us kids. In a couple of cases, extra concrete was poured to create an acceptable playing surface.
Dad involved all of us in basketball at an early age. I think he enjoyed it most coming home from work and playing us kids three on one. He won most of the time, but kept it close by giving us handicaps. Usually five or three points to his one.
Dad also encouraged us to play for our school team or local boys and girls club. It was unusual when at least one of us wasn't playing on some team. He attended all of our games, unless he was out of town or tied up at work.
Dad himself was always on different teams up until the early eighties. When the three of us were younger, Dad always brought us along to practices and games. I can remember playing on and under bleachers for hours at a time, shooting at unused hoops, or just watching the practice or game. One of the last teams he played on was a Data I/O team. I still got to go to practice, but now I got to play with the team. We had lots of fun. I even got to play in one of their games. It was against a minimum security prison team. Quite an experience. I can't remember if mom knew or not.
He was so proud of us. I can remember the game my brother got his first dunk during a game. My Dad just about jumped out of his skin. I must admit, I was pretty excited to.
We learned a lot from basketball. How to be competitive, how to follow rules, that practice can and does help one improve, that winning isn't everything, and most importantly, how to have fun.
Cars Dad always loved to work on cars. He and I spent many, many hours over the years working on cars together. In later years, we were joined by my brother Joe, although I knew he probably would have rather been hiking or camping instead of working on cars.
It always fascinated me how we could take things apart piece by piece, clean the parts, replace worn or broken parts, put it all back together again, and have everything work. Sometimes there were left over bolts or nuts, but those were always deemed non-critical parts since everything still worked.
He would spend hours rebuilding carburetors, repacking wheel bearings, and tuning engines. His tinkering didn't always include cars. You name it, he could fix it.
On one of my first cars, he helped me replace the engine. A couple of years ago, he helped me replace the engine in my wife's car. One of the projects we talked about doing often was rebuilding my '79 Pontiac. This was the car he bought for himself when we returned from Europe in '79. Well Dad, I guess I'll have to finish that one by myself.
He also spent a lot of time working with my brother on his '64 Buick Wildcat. This was Joe's first and only car. It is still running today.
He was always helping someone with their car. Just another sign of how generous he was. And just how much he loved working on them.
In 1988, he bought a brand new Pontiac Bonneville and has kept it in mint condition. That car runs just as good as new. He knew the car so well, that he could usually tell what was wrong and what needed replacing or adjusting, without even looking in the manual.
He taught me that it pays to be perfect and diligent, to take the time to read the manual and double check things.
Memories Although basketball and cars were some of Dad's greatest passions, they were by no means his only ones.
He enjoyed many things. Sailing, reading, doing crossword puzzles, playing games, skiing, magic, computers, eating, entertaining, and so much more. At a time when a log of people think of slowing down, he was out there trying new things like roller-blading and golf.
Over the past couple of years, golf became Dad's new passion, eclipsing even basketball. Hard as that may seem. Particularly to his kids.
He became a golf nut. Much like basketball earlier in his life, he seemed to eat and breathe golf. When Joe and I were driving his car to Houston to join him at the hospital, we found some notes he had made on the par score for various courses he had played along with some of his scores. Golf seemed to come fairly easy to him as it requires concentration, something he was always good at.
While Dad enjoyed these passions, and even greater passion was his love of life, the people in his life and his family.
Dad loved to be with friends and family having a good time. All through my life I can remember many of these occasions: Crab Feeds in Baltimore, MD; Cocktail Parties in Holland; Salmon Barbecues in Bellevue, WA; and his famous Seafood Chowder.
He loved making his Seafood Chowder. Even though I'm not a big seafood person, he was always trying to get me to have some more.
Dad also loved to eat out. He was always telling me about new restaurants he had discovered. He always wanted to treat everyone.
More Memories Dad helping me to learn how to ride a bike.
Pizza night. Making pizza with Dad. I think Pizza was probably his favorite food.
Skiing in Maryland. Skiing in Germany. Skiing at Crystal, Stevens Pass and Snoqualmie in Washington. We skied together at least once or twice a year except for last year.
Building Pine Wood Derby race cars or Rockets for Cub Scouts. This was always done very scientifically with great attention to detail and usually with good results.
Traveling and camping all over Europe.
Sailing. We had some many fun adventures. Sailing around Lake Washington. Sailing in the San Juans. I can remember one time in Flap Jack, our first boat, sailing along Whidbey Island heading toward Oak Harbor. We had started out late, it was getting dark and the winds were picking up. Pretty soon we had 35-40 knot winds and waves cresting over the length of the boat. It was a blast. Another time sailing to Victoria in Counterpoint, our second and bigger and heavier boat, we had 40-45 knot winds and 5 to 6 foot swells. Another exciting sail. We got to Victoria around 11:30pm and went out for? You guessed it. Pizza. I was fortunate to be a part owner of Counterpoint for several years with my Dad and Bruce. We always had fun on the boat, even while working on it.
Talking on the phone.
Over the past few years, we have had the good fortune to be able to spend more time with Dad while he had been working in Washington. My son Paul and I spent many enjoyable evenings playing basketball followed up with pizza for dinner and maybe a movie for dessert.
Dad entertaining at my son's birthday parties.
Working on projects together. Building a brick wall at our first house in Reisterstown, MD; numerous basketball hoops; wiring projects; hot water heaters; telephones; building a loft in his garage in Redmond, WA; building a step at our house in Everett, WA.
Dad always found a way to help out.
He was always so generous with his time and his love. Sometimes it was difficult for me. I wanted him all to myself, but gradually I've come to understand that he had so much to give that there had to be many people for him to share his love with.
I will miss him more than I dare to imagine now, but I am so grateful and privileged to have had him as my Dad.
November 29, 2001