I spoke at my father's funeral. That much I'm sure of, although I mumbled my way through something not worthy an eulogy.
Of course, this is not topical as my dad passed away coming up on ten years ago and it's not relevant here as you, more than likely, didn't even know him. But it's the longest standing regret haunting me as strongly as his death and I just had to tackle this at some point.
See, I was twenty-three at the time and his passing was sudden and devastating to myself and my family. To formulate into words thoughts of my father, hero and best friend in about 48 hours after leaving the hospital without him was too much to take. I made a few off-the-cuff inside jokes and then, with a shaky voice and shakier knees, said I loved him. That was all I could do not to collapse.
Afterwards, I remember watching the casket being wheeled out of the packed church followed by drinking a Sam Adams Octoberfest on a bench outside of my parent's packed house.
Some memories, huh?
Now that's not to say I don't have great thoughts of my father, along with my doting mother -- a few of which I have written about in this very space. My dad's advice that "things always work out if you let them" runs on loop in my brain. And there was nothing better than a big bear hug from him before heading off for elementary school or just going out with friends. My parents were all about hugs and now I make sure to wrap my son up as tight as possible, just because.
But without question that time in 2004, bleeding into 2005 and beyond, is never far from my mind. I've started and then deleted a version of this column probably a dozen times -- the thought of getting "too personal" makes me shiver in repulsion. Not to mention, things have gotten better for me as my beautiful then-girlfriend has become my beautiful wife, we have an amazing son, Brady and I have something of a career. Quite a change from the unemployed bum who had no clue what he was going to do or how things were ever going to be "normal" again, huh?
Yet, a random sound or sight can take me down a wormhole and mine never being able to poignantly capture my father in front of all those people hits me like a ton of bricks. Not to mention the overwhelming sense of fear to put that time of my life further in the rear-view mirror.
Still, you think you'll have all your life to speak about a lost loved one, but truth is a willing audience shrinks as days go.
All the more reason for why I decided to finally fill a column with some inner thoughts that may not seem timely to everyone. But then again the very reason I follow Syracuse is because of my dad. An SU law school grad, his passion for the Orange (along with sports in general) bubbled through his veins and quickly natured and nurtured its way to me through genetics and repetition. I still see my parents comforting me after Keith Smart's shot, my dad and I snipping and snapping at each other during the Kentucky game in '96, having season tickets for the millionth rebirth of SU football in the 90's and my first lacrosse game at the Dome, woofing down some Burger King.
You have those memories, right? Maybe not at the Dome or even of Syracuse, maybe they're from Yankee Stadium or the Meadowlands or somewhere far away from where you are right now. They're probably the driving force for your fandom, Syracuse or otherwise, and it's special to you and at the same time something we can all relate to and take solace in. A hand-me-down fan is the best type of fan. It's like religion or politics but more powerful. There is no converting when you pledge your allegiance to the family franchise or program.
Actually writing all of this now does seem pretty timely. Hell, the very reason I write, for this Website or for any outlet I've been lucky enough to work for, is in large part because of my dad and my mom -- always pushing me to do what I want and to believe in myself. This then makes perfect sense, to finally attempt to finish what I started a decade ago. But instead of speaking I am fittingly writing what I wanted to say back then but didn't know how, all wrapped in an Orange cloak. The rare tint my colorblind dad could see.
An eulogy this is not, though. Rather it's a continuation of trying to fully capture what my dad, and my mom, means to me. Really, every thing I write is, even if indirectly. It's kind of like a thank you letter that will last a lifetime, and I'm realizing, with time, I'm okay with that.
As long as you'll indulge me from time to time.