Tuesday, March 4, 2008

My Dad

This past Thursday, February 28th, my Dad passed away peacefully at home from complications due to Parkinson’s disease.

Thank you so much to all of you who left Nancy and I notes of sympathy, encouragement, and love. I’ll respond to each of you as soon as I can. The responses from all of you, and from so many friends and relatives, was an incredible blessing. Although I can’t begin to imagine how it’s going to feel when I really understand that he’s gone, the comfort that was poured out on us by family and friends gave us the sense of being snuggled up together in a great big, warm blanket. It made all the difference in the world.

As a grown man now myself, there are two primary ideas that I try to live by: care for family, and care for others. I learned those from my Dad.

When I was about 10 years old, my two younger sisters and I auditioned for a local production of Alice in Wonderland. The director had assigned roles to a number of us, handed us scripts, and placed us up on stage to begin reading our parts in turn. My youngest sister stood a little ways off to my right. She was 6 or 7 years old. The rest of the room offstage was filled with the other hopefuls and all of our parents.

Just as the first reader in the scene began speaking, I heard a girl next to my sister ask my sister what role she had. My sister told her, “The 10 of Hearts.” But the girl immediately said, “No, no, I’M the 10 of Hearts.” A chill went through me, and apparently went through my sister as well, and she began to cry, and the reading stopped. I stood there holding my script, ready to perform, frozen, feeling like the whole place was watching us, waiting to see what I was going to do. I didn’t know what to do, so I just stood there. Then from all the way in the back of the room, I saw someone walking up the center aisle toward us: it was my Dad. He calmly came up on stage, gently picked up my sister in his arms, carried her offstage all the way to the back of the room, and sat down with her. I was in complete turmoil, but as my Dad turned back toward us, I saw his face. There was no turmoil, or embarrassment or anything. He just held my still-crying sister, and waited for the audition to continue as if everything was just fine. I had had no idea what to do, but my Dad knew exactly what to do, and he did it perfectly. And at that moment, my Dad became my hero.

During those same years, our family and a number of friends spent two weeks every summer at Lake Michigan. One afternoon, a bunch of us kids were playing together, when another kid, a stranger, came up to us. He was short, with too many freckles, and bright curly red hair. For some reason, I, as the oldest, decided “we” didn’t like him, so I snubbed him and led my little group away, leaving him all by himself, and promptly forgot all about him.

But a day or so later, all of us kids were playing in the lake with my uncle and my Dad, and that kid showed up again. He was just standing around, annoying me once more. But then my Dad saw him. And without a moment’s hesitation, and without consulting ME, he smiled at the kid and said, “Would you like to play with us?” Of course, the kid burst into a big grin, nodded his head and came running in to join us. I was frozen once again, but this time with the full realization of what a complete jerk I had been. I still remember exactly where I was standing in that lake, with the cold water up to my knees, feeling like the Grinch who stole Christmas, standing with his Grinch feet ice-cold in the snow, when he realized what a complete jerk HE had been. And something inside me said, I will never do that again. From now on, I’m going to be just like my Dad.

Everyday, I try to live up to that promise. And everyday, I try to be faithful to that legacy of care for family and care for others, just like my Dad taught me.

That you so much, Dad, for all you were, and all we are because of you. We will love and miss you forever.



  1. What a wonderful legacy your Father has left behind. A family that has learnt by his actions to be caring and thoughtful of other people.
    Sorrry for your loss.

  2. May you continue to find peace and comfort in the memory of your Father. He sounds like a Father to be very proud of.


  3. Those memories will continue to flood your life. You are a son he was proud of - I will be thinking of you and you family as you endure this part of your journey.

    blessings - teresa

  4. May these wonderful memories sustain you when times are difficult. It sounds like your dad was such a wonderful man.

  5. Dear Bill,
    In return, you have given your Dad something as well. A son who values the true things to be proud of in living this life and holding the utmost respect and love for your Dad and his values of what he so lovingly passed on to you.

    He surely is so proud of you as well. How could he not be? You had a wonderful role model and seems to me have followed through magnificently.

    God bless you and your family, Bill Jr.

    Tracie and Shayne

  6. Bill, i am so very sorry for your loss...you father sounds like a very amazing man and a truly wonderful father...how lucky you are to have so many beautiful memories to pull out, and live precious moments all over again.

  7. Bill,

    I am sorry I havent posted before now... my browser seems to take a day or two longer than it should to catch up

    I must say you have brought tears to my eyes with such a profound story of love and lifes lessons learned...

    A beautiful way to honor your Dad who seems to me to have been a very wise and gentle man

    He gave you such a beautiful gift.. the gift of himself...

    And with that gift came memories that will live on through your lifetime and that of your children and grandchildren

    I loved reading about him..

    Thank you for sharing such a personal piece of your father with us



  8. I am sorry for your trouble, may you find comfort in your memories.

  9. oh your story was so sweet. I somehow went from passive to emotional in a couple of lines. thanks for sharing. i am sorry for your father's passing but overjoyed that people like him lived to show the rest of us what it is like to live a life of integrity, bust most importantly, love. best wishes


  10. I'm so sorry for your loss, Bill. Thank you for sharing these stories about your dad! When parents lead by example they leave a lasting legacy in their children. Hugs and blessing to you and your family.

  11. Beautifully written Bill...I'm so so sorry for your loss. Have meant to come by and tell you for a few days now.
    I pray with time his memories comfort you and his love will live on forever. You are a testament to that...take care!

  12. Tears in my eyes, Bill...
    What a legacy! What a wonderful man and father and I'm so glad you have such wonderful memories to hold fast to right now. Saying a prayer for you and your family.

  13. May all your warm memories sustain you and bring a smile to your face. I lost my Dad 6 years ago and although they are not physically here with us, they never really leave. Their words, their deeds, their heart and soul live on within us.

    I send you my deepest condolences and
    will keep you in my prayers.

    Warmest regards,

  14. I am so sorry for your loss. I lost my Mom two years ago February 21st.
    Sending prayers for you and your family.

  15. Your dad sounds like the kind of man we'd all hope to meet. I am sorry for your loss, and thankful he passed his love and kindness onto a new generation.


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