My dad never said “I love you.”
Not to me, anyway.
There was a time when dads, as a rule, didn’t say “I love you” to their children. That was just the way things were done.
It’s not like I didn’t know he loved me.
My dad taught me to love reading and basketball. He taught me that the best beer must be properly chilled and the best practical jokes must be properly executed. (My practical jokes would make my dad proud.)
My dad taught me to parallel park by handing me the driver’s handbook with written instructions, setting up two sawhorses in the yard, and pulling the massive old grain truck up beside them. “There. Park it between those saw horses. You won’t hurt anything and once you can parallel park the grain truck, you’ll be able to parallel park anything.” Then he left. (I think he just got into his tractor and drove back out into the field.)
He left me alone to figure it out.
Basically, like this.
This may not be how your dad taught you to do things, but my dad left me to figure out a lot of things on my own. For the record, I am an amazing parallel parker to this day.
When I wanted him to teach me more about basketball, he handed me John Wooden’s book They Call Me Coach. “Read this,” he instructed.
“It’s not how tall you are, but how tall you play.”
When I left for college and then to the East Coast my dad would send me articles from the local newspaper, Sports Illustrated, and Time magazine, to make sure I read things he deemed important, adding notes and commentary in the margins.
He learned a lot by reading and he was determined that his kid would, too.
He called me “Kid,” long after I was no longer a kid. Until the day he died.
On the day before Thanksgiving 2006, my dad was in the hospital. No big thing. He hadn’t been feeling well and he was 81. He had diabetes and a wonky heart and the doctors would put him in the hospital from time to time just to check him over. Just routine.
While he never said “I love you” to me, I often said it to him. I said it more to make him squirm. It was a joke between us. I would say, “I love you,” and there would be an awkward pause and then he would say, “Mmmm-kay.”
And so, I called my dad in the hospital that day before Thanksgiving, to see how he was doing and he sounded pretty good. And, as we were wrapping up the conversation, I said, “I love you.”
There was that awkward pause.
“Whatever,” he said. And, then he hung up.
That was the last thing he said to me. He died the next day. It was Thanksgiving.
But, “Whatever” was perfect.
It said, “I love you,” when it was hard for him to say those words. Lots of people throw around the “love” word. They say they love ice cream and football and days at the beach.
But, I knew what “whatever” meant.
Love is generic. Whatever is forever.
Which reminds me …
Dear Baltimore Orioles,
You are making me so damn mad.
I know that you are rebuilding. It will take time, you said. It will be hard, you said. It will take patience and there will be bad days … very bad days … to come, you said. But, it will all be worth it someday.
I thought I was ready. I steeled myself for bad days.
But, it has been much harder than I thought.
With just 21 wins, you have the worst record in baseball. Many teams have won more than twice that many.
Even Orioles broadcaster Gary Thorne doesn’t know what to say when you do things like this …
“I don’t know.”
Last night, you lost 13-2 to the Red Sox. The night before you lost 12-3 to the Blue Jays. The Blue Jays!
This season feels like a cat chasing its tail. There are only two outcomes, neither are good: Dizziness and failure when you don’t catch the tail, or catch the tail and, well, that’s no good either.
Just dizziness and failure.
But, you know, my dad taught me something else.
He taught me to stick with whatever team you choose. Stick through the bad times, it’s up to you to find the good.
He wasn’t much of a baseball fan – but the Dodgers were his team – and if he were here today he would say, “Kid, I don’t know why you chose the Orioles, but you did. And, now they stink and you’re stuck with them.” Then he would chuckle, because the Dodgers are in first place.
He’s right, Baltimore Orioles. And, even though you stink, I kinda like these new guys you have hanging around. They might not be great, but they try real hard. Even as you’re giving up grand slams, botching routine plays in embarrassing new ways, or making base-running errors … you seem nice.
You know, it’s hard, sometimes, to say “I love you.”
Dear Baltimore Orioles. Whatever.
Your Forever Friend,
The Baseball Bloggess
P.S. Happy Father’s Day
I need to tell you about when Baltimore came in May. I knew it was, so far, a poor season for Baltimore. But those 3 games, they had come to PLAY. nice scoring, tight games. Some great spark and I was ever hopeful you caught the series and were proud. I knew I had a friend suffering thru another rough season. I hope you were proud, I was for you and them. There is a team in there, and they do give it a good try. It’s just hard to watch a team disintegrate in front of your eyes…i reference last nights 16 to 12 loss. Enuf said.
To baseball, always may it reign! Cheers
I did see that series. They are young and sometimes show glimmers of potential … which makes it easy to forgive their misplays and missteps and losses. But, the last couple games have been embarrassingly bad. Sigh. Whatever.
From the heart, Jackie. Happy Fathers Day.
Thank you, Jim!
You know in your heart that the O’s will come together as a team eventually, but they waiting can be excruciating. Keep the faith, my friend. Happy Fathers Day!
They have been so bad these past few games. So very very bad. But, yup … I’ll keep the faith … that’s all I’ve got at the moment! :)
Love your memories of your father. Mine thought sports was a waste of time. So, I was obsessed with baseball (and football and basketball).
I bet he was proud of you and all you accomplished!
My parents were the same way – definitely an era when saying the L word was not common practice. Wish I could have met your dad, and your mom.
But, our parents said the “L” word in other ways … we just had to be clever in figuring it out. I hope “Fast Eddie” had a wonderful Father’s Day!
My dad taught me to love books and baseball, too, and tried to get me to love basketball, but it didn’t take, no matter how many U-of-Michigan games he took me to.
My Tigers are goshawful and i look at the Orioles record and cannot imagine how any MLB team could be worse than the Tigers, let alone significantly worse. But the standings say they are. There was a time when I would have known why, but with only playing non-division opponents once home and once away, it is impossible to keep up. Every team seems to me to be comprised of two 30-HR guys I never heard of, and 352 relievers I never heard of who all throw 95+. And get off my lawn.
Oh, the Orioles are worse. So very, very worse. But, I’m promised this pain will all be worth it. Some day.