My dad died yesterday.
In 2004, he ran the Marine Corps Marathon in Washington DC with my brother Doug and Doug’s wife Ann. It was his first and only marathon.He retired from the world of banking in 2006 after working his entire career with Manufacturer’s Bank/Comerica.
The next year, while in Siesta Key for a month, he ended up in Sarasota’s hospital just days after Rachel, Aly and I had stayed with them. He had caught a very rare subtype of Guillan-Barre syndrome called Miller Fisher Syndrome, which involves paralysis that begins at the face and spreads throughout the body. He was lucky to be correctly diagnosed quickly, which helps impact the recovery time, but he was in the hospital in Florida for nearly a month before coming home to Michigan to start a long recovery process.
One year later, in 2008, he was diagnosed with prostate cancer.
I’m going to remember you, Dad, for the warm, kind, intelligent soul that you are.
I’m going to remember your calm demeanor in a house of three occasional hotheads.
I’m going to remember you bursting with pride at Doug’s and my weddings, and as you met each of your four grandchildren.
I’m going to remember you taking us through Indian Guides and Trailblazers. I’m going to remember, how when I had to go outside to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night at Indian Guides camp, you’d let me stand on your shoes so my feet wouldn’t get dirty on the cold wet ground.
I’m going to remember canoe trips, cruise ships, and Stonington Harbor rides in kayaks, the water tender, and the pea pod. I’m going to remember sailing in the Wayfarer on Lake St. Clair.
I’m going to remember Pistons games, Tiger games, Lions games, Red Wings games, the Auto Show, Cedar Point, Wall Drug, Mount Rushmore, and the Indianapolis 500.
I’m going to remember all the times we played golf together, with not a single good round between us, but never a bad round. I’ll remember the tennis out east, the driveway basketball, and all the games of catch in the yard.
I’m going to remember running in Frankenmuth, at Oakland University, and the Turkey Trot downtown through the Thanksgiving Day parade route, which was always followed by breakfast at Denny’s.
I’m going to remember the hours and hours spent in the basement, working on our train sets, building models, and teaching me how to use tools.
I’m going to remember the time that you came into the kitchen after discovering your mother had died, and how you came right to me for comfort, despite the fact that I was an awkward, rebellious punk teenager.
I’m going to remember all the days we spent together cheering our hearts out at Michigan Stadium, which sometimes ended feeling like our hearts had been ripped out. I’m going to remember the trips to Star Deli on the way to tailgating, and playing pool in the Student Union, before walking in to the Big House alongside the band.
I’m going to remember you taking us to rock concerts, and then asking us which one is Pink and which one is Floyd.
I’m going to remember your lifelong love of reading and writing, and even your bad handwriting. All of which were passed on to both your sons.
I’m going to remember groaning at all the sharp puns and dad jokes, even though they weren’t called dad jokes back then.
I’m going to remember skiing up north, and all the amazing trips out west to Colorado.
I’m going to remember DisneyWorld, DisneyLand, San Francisco, the Rose Bowl, East Coast college trips, Siesta Key, Sanibel Island, England and Scotland, Estes Park, Kennebunkport, and I’m going to remember our St. Paul’s work trip to Caro, Georgia.
I’m going to remember the smell of the projector during the slide shows that followed every family vacation.
I’m going to remember road trips, delayed flights, and boat rides to Mackinaw Island.
I’m going to remember our short morning drives to Rochester High School, where we always had some fun conversation to start my day.
I’m going to remember Walloon Lake. Ten years of incredible Walloon Lake memories.
I’m going to remember your love of photography and being outdoors, both of which have passed on to me.
I’m going to remember your grace, courage, and class as you dealt with Miller-Fisher and prostate cancer over the last years of your life.
I’m going to remember your incredible commitment to your family, your work, your lifelong friends, and to the causes important to you.
Most of all, I’m going to remember your friendship. You are my occasional co-conspirator, my most patient teacher, and my biggest cheerleader.
Goodbye, Dad, and thanks.