Monday, September 20, 2010

Walking Wounded Dad

Playing with my kids is one of my favorite things about being a Dad...and recently when my kids come over we have gotten into the habit of playing basketball or bocce …and for the near future it looks like I will be playing more bocce than basketball…

Like most forty something year old men I think of myself as a fourteen year old who can drive and drink martinis (although not at the same time). We often forget that the needs and capacities of forty something year old bodies are different than those of a fourteen year old. However, nature has a way of reminding us that we are not fourteen…its called pain…excruciating, yell out loud pain…

My boys and I were playing basketball last week when nature reminded me that I am not fourteen. My boys and I have an ongoing game with Aidan and me are pitted against my oldest son, Oliver. These games are competitive affairs…however…Aidan and I are toast once Oliver figures out that we are really playing chess and not basketball.

So…back to the reminder that I am not fourteen…during what proved to be my last basketball game for a while…I passed the ball to Aidan on the wing and then moved to receive his return pass…Aidan threw the ball over Oliver’s outstretched arms, I caught it, moved to make a left handed layup, pushing off on my right leg as I did….and then I felt like I was shot in the leg…and as I landed in a heap I thought…so…I am not fourteen after all…

My boys helped me into the house and into my chair…meanwhile I was telling myself that I was way too young to need my boys help to get into a chair…For the next month or so I am going to be playing bocce with my kids after school…how do I know this? I have had this injury before…suffered last year…while playing wiffle ball.

Thursday, September 16, 2010


As much as we wish this were not so...even the best of friends eventually part ways.

Last Friday I had to let my friend Joey go. I knew in March that we had turned a corner and were entering the home stretch of our run together. It was then when I promised him that when he was ready I would let him go. With this in mind, we had spent as much time as we could together. Sometimes he went with me to work or to run errands, but most of our time with each other was spent outside, sitting in the sun, and at night listening to the radio.

During the course of the summer my friend’s health continued to decline yet his puppy spirit continued to shine through, that is, until about a week and a half ago…when it was clear that it was time to let him go…he was ready for us to part ways.

Our last week together was a good one. I worked from home and as I did, Joey dozed at my feet, much as he had done for the last several years. My kids, knowing what was coming, paid more attention to him than usual…as for the first time they were about to lose someone whom they have known their entire lives.…Joey also received much love and support from many dear friends, old and new, who had shared in our journey.

My ex wife and I got Joey in 1995 from the Dedham Animal Rescue League. In those early days it was apparent that he was going to be a handful. While talking to her about Joey last week, she told me that she wanted to remember him as the out of control puppy she loved and who drove her crazy. I remember him, however, as an older dog who shared his life with me and who was my companion through good and through bad.

Thursday night I grilled a couple of steaks for us, served his on a plate, placed it next to him, and watched him devour an entire porterhouse in about three minutes. As he gnawed on the steak bone, I chatted with my dear friend who knew Joey well. A long time ago it she who gently told me that when the time came it really didn’t matter if I was ready to let him go… instead...I would need to let him go when he was ready.

Joey and I sat in the sun on our last morning together, ran a few errands, and then made one last stop at our favorite place. As we sat together on the Common, in the sun, as we did many times before. I thanked him for being my truest friend and for sharing his life with me. I told him that he was a good boy…

Finally…as he faded, I whispered to him our language’s saddest word….goodbye….