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Dr. Darrell White's Personal Blog

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A Brief Father’s Day Visit From My Dad

Jason Gay, the WSJ sports columnist/comic relief editorialist gets it. He gets Father’s Day. No escape to the golf course or tennis courts for him. Jason is the father of two. No communing with the boys fishing or tearing up the backcountry on a bike for Jason. His idea of a great Father’s Day is to get his hands dirty in the act of being a Dad. Makes some muffins and mess up the kitchen. Pretend to plant some flowers so you can dig in the mud. Raining out? No problem. Rain means puddles to splash around in with the kids.

I like to think of Father’s Day as the day when I get to hang with my kids and just be Dad. It’ll be a bit weird this year as the gang is even more spread out than usual. Randy and Beth just landed in Florida with L’il Bug in preparation for an appointment early tomorrow morning. Megan is home in the Low Country, gearing up for a work week while keeping a watchful eye on her growing family of alligators in the back yard. Dan is hopefully going to get a few hours off (young lawyers don’t really have days off!) to chase after his two bundles of joy. I’ve heard from them all. My “extras” Alex and Whitney have checked in, too.

Being a Dad (and a Papi) is a joy!

Tomorrow, the day after Father’s Day, my Dad would have been 90. Father’s Day with him when my brother and I were young was pretty special. Dad was an incredible golfer; he gifted the game to my brother and me when we were quite young. We got to share golf with him on Father’s Day by caddying for him and three of his close friends until we were old enough to join him and one special buddy (my brother’s favorite loop) for a round. Randall and I got to see our Dad in his element, surrounded by loyal friends and joyful at his good fortune.

It’s been almost 6 years now since my Dad died. Six years since I’ve been able to wish him a Happy Birthday, a Happy Father’s Day. I think of him often, as I do my Father-in-Law who passed away in 2017. Here is what I wrote after visiting my Dad on Father’s Day, the last time I visited him for his Birthday, re-printed on Father’s Day as I’ve done each year since:

My siblings and I only need to remember one weekend each year when it comes to celebrating my Dad. His birthday almost always falls within a day or two of Father’s Day. So it was that I found myself in Rhode Island the past couple of days, in the company of my Mom and a guy masquerading as my Dad, a guy who was very curious about the new fella who’d dropped by for a visit.

Getting old is not for sissies, my friends.

Somewhere inside, deep inside, there’s still some of my Dad in the jumbled up connections of his mind, carried by the body that failed him in such spectacular fashion 2 ½ years ago. Dad is extremely intelligent, the only family member in his generation to have gone to college. Quite the athlete, he used football and the GI Bill to pay for school. Like so many in his generation he then worked, raised a family, and put himself through grad school. He won his club championship in golf twice at the ages of 50 and 60. No typo. Beat the reigning RI State Amateur champ on his home course for the first one.

As we sat on the porch of his house overlooking the par 5  14th hole, I had an ever so brief visit from that guy. From my Dad. Like a citizen of Brigadoon he came slowly through the mist of his mind to join me for a bit. We’d always bonded over golf. My brother and I never turned down an invitation to join him on the course, either as partners or as caddies for him and his buddies. It was quite a privilege to do either; my Dad’s most elemental essence was expressed on the golf course.

A light breeze was blowing through the forest in the back yard just beyond the rough. We chuckled at the golfers who failed to take the wind into consideration, sheepishly trying to sneak into our yard to retrieve their out-of-bounds second shot. Dad talked about caddying as a kid in the Depression. We both noted the absence of caddies as the foursomes passed in and out of view. It was really very nice.

I quite like the Dad of my adulthood. Quick to smile, slow to anger, unfailingly loyal and kind. It’s hard to imagine now how distant he was when I was a boy, his friendship as an adult is so easy. I’m not sure how long we sat there to be honest, nor when I noticed that he was slipping away. As surely as the village of Brigadoon disappears, the mist had returned to claim him. I got up, walked over to his chair, held his hand and gave him a kiss. I wished him a Happy Birthday and a Happy Father’s Day, hoping that I’d made it on time. That he was still there. That he knew it was me, Darrell, his oldest child. I told him I loved him.

He smiled and gave my hand a little pat as he disappeared into the mist.

I really miss my Dad.

4 Responses to “A Brief Father’s Day Visit From My Dad”

  1. June 20th, 2021 at 12:14 pm

    David Granet says:

    DW- As always thanks for sharing. Similarly my Dad’s birthday is in 12 days and mine in 10. This day until his birthday was our shared time. I talk to him all the time still and its been well over 2 decades since we last could be together. This year he would have turned 97. Your post adds just a little extra special touch to this day, thanks.

  2. June 20th, 2021 at 12:42 pm

    drwhite says:

    Thanks Dave. I’m mostly alone today with the dogs. As you know I am not a solitary creature. A bit more lonely on Father’s Day when I’m already lonely for my Dad.

  3. June 22nd, 2021 at 1:31 pm

    Jim Marino says:

    Thanks for sharing . We miss the greatest generation more and more as the years pass.
    Best to you and your family.

  4. June 23rd, 2021 at 2:45 pm

    drwhite says:

    Thanks Jim!

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