My dad passed away Tuesday morning. And I couldn’t be happier.
Understand: I mean no disrespect. I loved my dad like you read about. But his passing — on the heels of a number of days of waiting around a cold hospital room — came as great relief. What we saw in those final hours wasn’t my dad. It was like being a kid and staring at the box your Big Wheel came in, after someone had already taken the Big Wheel out, assembled it, and drove it outta town.
But now he’s comfortable. Now he’s at peace. Now he’s somewhere better, able to watch each and every forthcoming Matt Clement breakdown from a somewhat loftier perch.
I don’t wanna remember my dad as lying in a bed, concerned and confused, unsure of his place in the great cosmic picture. Instead, I wanna remember him as flailing his arms in disgust when an Ortiz line drive just… can’t… make it over the right field wall. Or explaining how he’d just located an incredible new public bathroom in the bowels of Brookline Town Hall. Or laying on the deck of my parents’ house, sound asleep with the Sunday paper blowing all around him and across the back yard, giving off that horrific snore of his, which can only be equated to the sound a yak would make if it was caught in a bear trap. Or calling me up to say that Julian Tavarez is a tool and possibly the worst pitcher ever to dawn a Red Sox uniform. Or recounting in agonizing detail how he’d had a cup of coffee and then a muffin, then put the coffee down to focus a bit more on the muffin, then resumed his coffee drinking, only to once again get back to the muffin. And I’d sit there listening to my dad talk about a muffin like it’s the greatest thing in the world and suddenly I’m thinking IT IS the greatest thing in the world and that way he had of pulling the joy out of something as ridiculous as eating a f–kin’ Dunkin’ f–kin’ Donuts muffin was utterly captivating to me.
Over the last few days, something else popped into my head. A somewhat distant memory, pushed to the forefront of my brain again. One evening, about three years ago, after Sunday dinner at my folks’ house, Dad turned to me and said, somewhat seriously, “I have a favor to ask you.”
And I said, “Sure, dad, whatever you need.”
And he said, “During my funeral–”
And I just cut him off right there. Because I didn’t want to talk about that. Not when there was a plate of Entenmann’s cakes on the table. So I asked if we could pick this up some other time.
But he persisted. “At my funeral. When you’re giving the eulogy. Here’s what I want you to say: He was a good guy. Loved his Red Sox.”
“That’s it?” I asked.
“Yes,” he said. “Short and sweet.”
So I smiled and nodded and agreed, if only to humor him and drop the subject. But now, years later, as it all becomes frighteningly real, I’m dipping back into those memories. And determined to make good on that promise.
Because he was a good guy. And he loved his Red Sox.