Thanks, football

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My father wasn’t a sports fan when we were growing up. Yeah, he took us to a baseball game, and a couple of football games, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have a favorite team, and he never joined us on the couch to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl. The Sunday New York Times sports section was the only section he left untouched. During the 1969 World Series, when every inch of New York was afire with Mets’ fever, I suggested that we try to get the impossible-to-get tickets to Game 5.  “Who’s playing?” he asked.

Being a sports fan requires hanging out, and my father wasn’t a guy who hung out. If he was going to flop in front of a TV, the viewing had to be informative.  PBS. 60 Minutes. A documentary. He didn’t do beer soaked den banter, or locker room small talk. His interactions with us were often formal. We scheduled a lunch. Or a drink on the porch.  A “talk” in his office behind closed doors. He needed topics like politics, art and theatre to get to intimacy.

But during his retirement in Connecticut, he grew to enjoy professional football, a sport I had loved for years.  He bought a pair of loungers where he parked himself every week and rooted loudly for the Patriots, my mother by his side.

On December 1st, in his hospital room, he and I watched the Patriots barely beat the Texans. And later that week, after he passed away, I realized that this was the first and last time I’d ever just hung out with him. There was no meaningful conversation. No topic dissected. No life plan analyzed. Nothing formal. It was just me and my beloved NFL convert watching the game. Together.

Thanks, football

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My father wasn’t a sports fan when we were growing up. Yeah, he took us to a baseball game, and a couple of football games, but his heart wasn’t in it. He didn’t have a favorite team, and he never joined us on the couch to watch the playoffs or the Super Bowl. The Sunday New York Times sports section was the only section he left untouched. During the 1969 World Series, when every inch of New York was afire with Mets’ fever, I suggested that we try to get the impossible-to-get tickets to Game 5.  “Who’s playing?” he asked.

Being a sports fan requires hanging out, and my father wasn’t a guy who hung out. If he was going to flop in front of a TV, the viewing had to be informative.  PBS. 60 Minutes. A documentary. He didn’t do beer soaked den banter, or locker room small talk. His interactions with us were often formal. We scheduled a lunch. Or a drink on the porch.  A “talk” in his office behind closed doors. He needed topics like politics, art and theatre to get to intimacy.

But during his retirement in Connecticut, he grew to enjoy professional football, a sport I had loved for years.  He bought a pair of loungers where he parked himself every week and rooted loudly for the Patriots, my mother by his side.  

On December 1st, in his hospital room, he and I watched the Patriots barely beat the Texans. And later that week, after he passed away, I realized that this was the first and last time I’d ever just hung out with him. There was no meaningful conversation. No topic dissected. No life plan analyzed. Nothing formal. It was just me and my beloved NFL convert watching the game. Together.

Thinking of you…

We came upon these ponies under prayer flags on a hike around a huge gold and bronze Buddha that overlooks Thimphu Valley. One of the ponies wore a bell and, whenever she moved, it sent out the sweetest, clearest tone I’ve ever heard.

Pia, Stephen and I immediately began to reminisce about a trip long ago, when a similar bell was purloined from an unsuspecting Austrian cow by someone we all love.

On the off chance that an old and still-irate Austrian farmer haunts the internet looking for the culprit, we won’t tell you her name but, loved one, you know who you are..

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Thanks, Armed Services

Paul C. Harper, Jr., 1943, Captain in the Fleet Marine Force on Iwo Jima (age 23!)

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And yesterday, during a speech at his assisted living facility (age 92!)…

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…”Iwo Jima was our last battle: from there we went to Guam to prepare for the invasion of Japan, scheduled for November. It came as a great relief that in the middle of August our radio operator started yelling at the top of his lungs, “It’s over! It’s over!”…Our next stop was home, with memories of the many great Marines and sailors with whom we had served…”
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Thinking of you…

One of the challenges of the empty nest years is getting through the losses.

At our college graduation, my former teammate and I made a bet. We’d meet at our 25th reunion and whoever had less hair would have to pay the other guy $100. At the reunion, we both had pretty big foreheads, so we called it a draw and made the same bet for our 50th reunion.  I found out today that John (top row center) isn’t going to get there. I’ll miss you, Tuna…

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