Some of my close friends know that the past couple of weeks have been pretty crappy for me. My father passed away on January 13th after losing a 2 year battle with the big C. I don’t write about personal stuff here much, but I do want to honor him with a few words looking back on his life.
Some of my fond memories I have with dad is us going fishing during family vacations as a kid. We’d get up before dawn and go out on a canoe or fishing boat in the lake casting for striped bass during sunrise. My dad usually managed to catch a nice size keeper or two. I always seemed to only land a sunfish or fat minnow. I learned about night crawlers, minnow bait and to love the smell of gas from outboard motors.
At about junior high dad got me into collecting beer cans. I had a shitload of them (including a few cone tops!) on display in the downstairs man cave where dad had turned our old fridge into a kegerator. He usually had it stocked with Olympia, Lone Star or something Australian if he could get it, like Coopers or Toohey’s. Needless to say, having access to beer at an early age wasn’t hard. Probably why I wasn’t such a drunktard in college.
I also recall a disastrous father and son RV road trip when I was young and rebellious and my dad was short tempered and knew everything. It ended with my mom and sister rendezvousing with us and cutting the trip short. Mom always knew how to diffuse a tense situation.
Later in life, after I moved to California, we sort of relived that RV trip, but in a west coast bacchanalian way. I’m talking about getting my old man out to Burning Man in 2001. I rented an RV, he flew to Reno and drove up to the Black Rock and met me there with the waiting RV. It was a totally different experience, one where he appreciated everything and I thought I knew it all. He was totally enamored by what he saw, had no qualms about sticking his head in the ass of a goat to seek enlightenment while being heckled by a peanut gallery on the sidelines.
Now back in Arlington where I grew up, I found dad’s 500 page unpublished novel he wrote in 1986. A geo-political thriller based loosely on his experiences in the Peace Corps in Nigeria and as an Associated Press journalist in The Congo in the late 60’s. Viet Africa is a proud piece of work, with sufficient political intrigue, cold war insinuations, international mystery, sex, hedonism and sabotage. Dad was a damn good writer, something I remember clearly. I’m going to make it my mission to get this thing e-published. Let me say this now, Matt Damon will NOT be allowed to play the protagonist journalist Newman in the film adaptation of Viet Africa! Hells no.
I gotta get back to preparing remarks for his memorial service, but just wanted to share some of who he was. Dad, you are missed.