Rick Wilson shares some thoughts on his father
He’s been gone almost a decade now, cancer taking him to a better place in March of 2004 at the age of 77. But you know, dads are dads and what they did with you, the time they spent with you, the lessons they taught you stay with you even when their physical presence is no more.
So on this Father’s Day 2013 thoughts turn to my father. More than anything my dad was a people guy, a social whirlwind who liked nothing better than to just be around people. It used to drive my mother crazy when he would come home three hours late with the Saturday night pizza and five kids waiting with visions of sausage of cheese dancing in their heads.
The reason? Well, his famous line (which is inscribed on his headstone) was, “Nan, you’ll never guess who I ran into.” What drove my mother bananas was that this famous person he ran into was usually somebody he saw every day.
But that was my dad. Put him in a group of people and even better with a good 7-ounce glass of Schafer (the one beer to have when you are having more than one) in his hand and he was in heaven before the official calling came.
A fireman’s parade or clambake, an afternoon at the Thomaston Rod and Gun Club or even at Neddermann’s Florist which was his retirement job, as long as there was people, he carried a grin the size of Bill Gates’ pay check.
His friends were his release. My mom and dad were very much parents of the 1950s and 1960s. Mom stayed home and raised the five kids until my youngest sister was a junior in high school. She cooked and cleaned, did the discipline, all the organizing, cooked and cleaned, drove us around and did I say, cooked and cleaned.
My dad earned the cash. He worked two jobs while we were growing up. Most of his life he worked at Chase Brass and Copper in Waterville, much of that time as the company’s Comptroller. He then would come home eat supper and go to his second job, tax collector for the town of Thomaston.
His regular days were 6:30 a.m. to about 9 p.m. We weren’t driving Cadillac’s and traveling to Hamptons in fact we had one station wagon (I remember a classic red Rambler) but we spent vacations in Black Island always had more than enough. The man worked hard to make that financially possible.
How he loved the time with his friends and the weekends where he could just sit down or stand and have a beer. Sometimes it was a Rheingold. He liked his beer but he liked being with his friends better.
I’d love to relay a nice athletic story here about how my dad taught me to throw a baseball or shoot a basketball. How he put his arm around my shoulder, gave me a lifesaver when I had a bad day, but it didn’t happen. The two jobs didn’t allow it.
When I was playing basketball in high school he made it to the home games but it was a struggle for him. Little League and all the rest, he struggled to make the game. Yet, I never felt cheated. Somehow I knew that dad had to work and would make it when he could.
And I always knew he was proud. The first article I wrote for the Register Citizen when I started in this business, he carried around in his back pocket to show his friends. He didn’t say much to me, it wasn’t his way. But, I knew.
My dad was not an athlete himself. About 5-foot-9 or 10 (although in his younger days he claimed to 5-foot-11) and slight in build, there are no stories to regale you with here. As a fan he loved sports – UConn, Celtics, New York Giants, Red Sox. He wasn’t as affectionate with referees, officials and in general whistle-totters.
He did introduce my brother Gary and me to Yale Bowl, a love affair that exists to this day. With a passel of friends he would haul us down to New Haven four or five times a year to watch the Bulldogs play.
You couldn’t make better days than those. Dad was with his friends and us. We were with him and watching Yale back in the days when they won a lot of games. One of the last places we took him before the cancer prevented it was Yale Bowl in the fall of 2003.
We still get down to Yale Bowl although not nearly as often and my brother and I have taken our kids. Every year we make it at least once, a bit of Dad’s legacy.
When dad died the familiar refrain we heard over and over was that your dad was great guy. That’s pretty good testament to a life. More than anything I think his gift to us. I never saw my dad get in an argument with anyone, never saw him badmouth anyone. He taught us about being nice to people.
My dad wasn’t a perfect guy but he was a good guy. Frankly the world needs more guys like my dad. He wasn’t around nearly long enough, but 77-years was a pretty good run.
And on Father’s Day, it is never too late to say thanks and you are missed.