My Father’s Writing

dad at retirement

The other day I was looking through some old pictures and old memories that I had stored away and among  them was a card that was written by my father.  It was an anniversary card to my husband and I. He must have sent some money in it because at the end he said to go out and have a nice dinner on him.

My mother died in 1999 so it must have been written somewhere in the 9 years that he lived after her passing. He wrote a very sentimental note to us about treasuring every moment that we had together.  Looking back I realize that as he wrote it, he must have been suffering his own personal pain of loosing his wife (my mother) of 57 years.  As he wrote those words, I’m sure he was thinking how fast time goes by and that he never thought that he would be sitting there without her. He always said to me “I always thought that I would go first.”  So besides the anguish that he felt of loosing his lifelong partner, he had anxiety about living on his own.

It was with a lot of sadness and concern that my siblings and I watched him struggle to come to terms with life without her.  I must say though, even at his age,  being left alone was a growing experience for him because all of a sudden he had to do everything that my mother used to do for him.   We were proud of him as he learned and handled the day to day responsibilities that my mother always took care of for them.  He was always too busy working outside the home to even notice all the little things that had to be done in a household. Little by little he managed to carve out a life and a routine for himself.  Not saying that he didn’t miss and think about my mother everyday, but the pain of it all lessened as time went on.  Of course all of his children pitched in to help in any way that we could and as he got older and more forgetful, it became more of a worry to us. I think he may have banged into a few different things in Whitehall with his big Cadillac, that we weren’t aware of……yes the car situation becomes an issue eventually in every family with elderly parents to monitor. I think our kids may have to wrestle the keys out of my husband’s hands.  That’s ok, you may be able to take him by then.   Ha ha

When I saw the writing of my father, a flood of emotions came over me. Wow he really was here. He was our father and we had a life with him. After so many years when your parents have passed, the memories fade and it almost seems like a dream. You remember bits and pieces and certain times you had with them, maybe something they said or did…mostly good, and maybe some not so good, but then you think, no matter what, they loved you, sacrificed for you, and did their best.

Some children don’t have the blessing of a father in their home but I have seen many uncles, grandfathers, older brothers, or good responsible male friends step up to the plate and be good role models for the children. It goes without saying that the mother in the home is without a doubt one of the most powerful forces and examples to the children…but I am just talking about fathers today.

My father was a printer….not a cursive writer and it was unique to him. It’s funny because my son Jimmer prints his notes also.  He signs his name in cursive but other than that, it’s all printed.  The inclination to print must have been hereditary in some way because I know Jimmer never really saw his grandfather print.  It is just Jimmer’s style.

My father had a long list of accomplishments in his life, father of 6 children, good athlete, served in both the Army Air Corp, US Navy, teacher, iron worker in the summers, director of athletics, high school principal and one of his most notable and enjoyable positions was that of a high school coach.  Until the day he died, his athletes affectionately called him “Coach.”  Although he coached every sport that was offered in our small school, his main stomping ground was down at the “Playground” in Whitehall.  In fact, I remember helping to hand out the football uniforms every year along with my brothers and I proudly got in all of the team pictures taken on the field each year.  Such fond memories of that field we all have.  It was named “The Clint Taft Memorial Field.”  “Legacy of a Coach”  He would have been so happy to see the monumental stone that was erected for him.  My Mom would have loved it too.

Granddaughter Lindsay and Grandson TJ. Jimmer was away at college at this time.

Sports was something that sustained him all of the years that he was on his own after my mother died.  He would scour the paper to see what sporting event he could attend that day. He was fiercely loyal to his hometown teams of Whitehall, NY.  My brother, Lee, was a football coach in a town about 45 minutes away from Whitehall.  Dad made sure he drove up to all of his games, to not only enjoy them, but also to support him.  As I talked about, it was a time of Dad’s life when he probably shouldn’t have been driving, but he did it anyways because the desire to see his son’s football games overshadowed everything else. He loved it and it was something for him to look forward to every week. I accompanied him to all of those games and it was a chance for us to spend hours of good quality time together.  Lee was such a good coach and I know Dad was proud of him…. and maybe relived his coaching days through him. Actually my brother Jerry was a coach for a short amount of time in Luzerne when they had 8 man football.  Fun to watch him too.  He was also a very enthusiastic and knowledgeable coach. We all never missed those games either…it was always a family affair if we were living locally. My brother Jimmy was a great basketball coach in Connecticut for years but it was too far away to see the game regularly but if it was possible, my father would have been there at every game. Me too! 

Sports was in his blood. He played it, he coached it, and he watched it until the day he died. He also attended all of my children’s games (his grandchildren) that were at least a half hour of driving away.   Both my mother and father would attend my son Tj’s games, Lindsay’s games, and Jimmer’s little league games if it was possible.  For little league, you could see them sitting behind the backstop in their fold up chairs.  I still can remember the feeling I had, after my mother’s passing, when I looked behind the backstop at the game and there he was…. sitting alone without my mother until Al and I went to join him. Even if we weren’t there I know he would have stayed to enjoy the game. Took some getting used to seeing him come in the ball park alone, but it made me feel good that he still enjoyed every minute of it.  After all, it was competition and it didn’t matter if it was tiddly winks, he would enjoy the process of the back and forth effort to win.

He was a wonderful man, father and “Gramps” to us all.  My son Tj called him the king of the one liners.  He was kind, compassionate, competitive, funny, a kidder, and of all that he had going on in his life, one of his greatest joys was being a father of 6 children and grandfather of 14 grandchildren. He was an only child himself, so a big family was something that he never had, but wished for, when he was young.  He had that large family eventually with us 3 girls and 3 boys.

So Father’s day was last weekend. I honored the great fathers in my life… my husband, one of my sons who is a father now, my brothers, my son-in-law, my children’s friends who are now fathers, and all in our extended families that are fathers, but my thoughts gravitated to my own father, who I loved and lost in this life but have no doubt that I will be reunited with him one day.  It’s the plan and God keeps his promises to us.

So I hope everyone enjoyed their special Father’s day.  You are all an integral and special part of your children’s lives. You only get one chance at this parenthood thing. Even though it’s inevitable that you will look back with some regrets, make a conscious effort to give it your very best shot.  I can promise you that giving your children time and attention will be the greatest accomplishment in your life.  Never underestimate the importance of fathers or father figures in a child’s life.

Those 18 years or so you have with them go by faster than you can imagine.

Thanks for stopping by.

Until next time…see ya.   

PS…I wrote this in green because it was his favorite color.  It’s funny that Jimmer’s uniform colors are now green.   For you Dad. Thinking of you.  Happy Birthday…

dad's signature     gramps dad

 

PS  This picture of his writing was the last that I got from him.  You can see that it was getting a little wobbly from age… but his heart was all in it for me.

 

 

 

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MVP AND FIRST TIME FATHER ALL IN THE SAME WEEK!

Last Monday night, somewhere over the Pacific Ocean, a private plane soared through the night sky en route to the United States. On board that plane was a soon to be first time father who was anxiously awaiting touching down in Denver. This was the 3rd time in only a matter of weeks that this soon to be father had taken on the grueling task of traveling 6,696 miles from Shanghai, China to his home in Colorado. As he sat upon the beautiful aircraft gazing out over the sea, thoughts of fatherhood raced through his mind.

Fast forward. . . three days later, Jimmer (the soon to be father) and his wife Whitney,  are now at the hospital anticipating their big moment. Meanwhile in Sacramento, my cell phone was on high alert as I eagerly  awaited receiving the special announcement text, which could now come at anytime. As the night went on I received numerous texts, but not one of them was the one I was most hoping for. Then once two in the morning rolled around, I realized that little Wesley James was operating on her own time table.

Back in China, around the time that the sun was coming up in Denver,  Jimmer’s Shanghai Sharks were just taking to the court to play their first CBA playoff game in years. Obviously when they took to that court, they did so without their leading scorer. When tip-off ensued, that leading scorer was all of the 6,600 miles away in Denver, now on only two hours sleep as he started worrying that the birth of his new baby girl might not take place before his flight back to China was due to depart. Jimmer was now facing the dilemma of choosing to miss his flight, and in doing so assuring that he would also miss his teams 2nd playoff game, or choosing to keep his flight, which would mean he would have flown all of the way from China, only to just miss the once in a lifetime birth of his first child. Hours later that decision was made even more difficult, when Jimmer received the news that his Sharks had just dropped game 1 of their first playoff series by 40 points. Game 2 was only a day and a half away. The Sharks needed Jimmer, and Jimmer knew it.

Not too long after the news of the Sharks loss hit home, I was rolling out of bed. Immediately I took to my phone, expecting some good news to be waiting for me – but still no word had come. The waiting game continued.

Eventually came 1:46 PM Denver time. That very minute is a time that will be etched in the brain of my little brother for the rest of his life. It was at exactly 1:46, when a man who had achieved many milestones in his life as a successful basketball player, had suddenly reached a new milestone – one that would undoubtedly dwarf any others that he had ever reached. This is a man who had broken the Glens Falls High School all time scoring record, the Section 2 all time scoring record, the BYU all time scoring record, the BYU single game scoring record, the Mountain West Conference single game scoring record. . . a man who he had lead the NCAA in scoring in 2011, won the John Wooden Award, won the Oscar Robertson award, won the James Naismith National College Player of the Year award, won an ESPY for the male athlete of the year award. . . a man who reached his ultimate dream by being drafted into the NBA in the 2011. . . a man who had achieved all of these prestigious accomplishments and many more. . . but even with all of these incredible successes under his belt, none of them could even come close to comparing to the feeling that he felt at 1:46 on this past Friday afternoon, when that man officially became a father. Just hours before Jimmer was set to fly back to China, Wesley James Fredette made her appearance into the world. This beautiful baby girl was born just one day before her father’s birthday. Holding his little daughter in his arms for the first time was an experience that Jimmer said was the greatest moment of his life. The 13 hour flight to be there for that monumental moment was nothing. If the flight was 100 hours, it would have been a very small price for Jimmer to pay to be there for what he later told us was an absolutely surreal experience. One that will live on in his memory forever.

When I finally personally received the text that I had been waiting to receive for over 24 hours, it was a thrilling moment, but also for me, a very hard concept to even grasp. My little brother…  my once curly haired sidekick who had tagged along with my friends and I no matter where we went. . . my best little buddy who I used to bounce on the trampoline with in the backyard. . . my right hand man who was the water boy for every sports team I ever played on. . . my best friend, my main man who looked up to me as we grew up in that tiny little house in upstate New York. . . that same little guy is actually now a dad. It’s a testament to the fact that time stands still for no one, and with each passing second we are all closer to being greeted by life changing experiences. At 1:46 this past Friday, my little brother experienced one that he will cherish for the rest of his life. Congratulations Jimmer and Whitney! You guys are parents!

As for game 2 of the CBA playoffs, Jimmer and his team overcame a 15 point deficit to pull out an absolutely crucial overtime victory! Jimmer told me after the game he was exhausted, something anyone who knew what he had been through the past 48 hours completely expected. After only about 5 hours sleep in two days, combined with the emotion of seeing his daughter being brought into the world, plus another 13 hour flight on top of that, I had no illusions of Jimmer being a ball of energy on that court Sunday night. However, knowing what I know about my little bro, I had no doubt he was gonna fight through the fatigue – and that’s exactly what he did. He went on to score 39 points and grab 10 rebounds to help lead the Sharks to a season saving win. He willed himself to a big-time performance, including hitting what should have been a game winning basket with only 2 seconds left in regulation. If not for a heroic buzzer beater by the opposing team, that off balance shot off the glass that Jimmer sunk just prior, would have put the game away. Jimmer however got one more chance to be the hero, and this time, he didn’t leave anything to chance. He caught fire in overtime, hitting his signature 3’s from all over the court and putting the nail in the coffin with an against all odds outstanding performance. How he was able to dig deep and muster up enough energy to close out that game the way he did, is a question for the ages. Some might say it was adrenaline, some might say it was a second wind. . . me personally, I think it was inspiration. . . inspiration from a little girl named Wesley James Fredette.

The Shark’s series is now tied 1 to 1. The excitement of the CBA  Play-offs is just getting started. Stay tuned to find out how the rest of this thrilling season unfolds!

Also some breaking news! As I was finishing up this blog I got word that today Jimmer was officially named the MVP of the CBA for this season!!! What a week it has been for my bro. Congratulations once again J!! Another milestone that someday uncle T can share with little Wesley!

 

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Jimmer just born big sister Lindsay holding him

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Jimmer holding his daughter for the first time

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Their dog George wondering who that is.

jimmer-holding-basketballtj_showing_jimmer_proper_shooting_technique1jimmer-as-waterboy-for-tjs-teamcompetition-on-the-trampolinesnapshot-1-5-28-2014-10-41-pmtj-and-jimmer-in-park-in-sacramento