Doesn't seem like much, but it's so fitting. The man has been through it all with me and has been the best thing that a son could hope for. He's been a teacher, a coach, a mentor, an advisor, a drinking buddy, a golf partner, a debate opponent, and a best friend -- you know, a dad. He did it all while working way too may hours, but still having all of the time that I could ask for. I have no idea how he did it - he had to spend about 15 years of his life completely exhausted.
He's been bedside for catastrophic injuries and hospital stays, he's been there for my greatest accomplishments to give me a slap on the back, and he's been there for my greatest defeats to give consolation and a word of encouragement. I was a hard-headed and stubborn kid and he let me learn my lessons the hard way - though he told me I was going to do so well before I did. And he was right. And he was patient. Even when we locked horns, he was patient. Out-of-this-world patient.
Now that I'm a dad, I find myself thinking things that dad told me I would think. And I find myself trying to be the dad he was, though I struggle, because I don't possess the same patience he did. I try, every day I try. I remind myself to be patient. I see him teaching the same lessons to his grandchildren and smile knowing that my son gets to learn the same way I did.
He taught me the greatest lessons of life by example. Don't sweat the small stuff. Always buy the first round, and every subsequent round if necessary. Never itemize a check or a tab when it comes, it will all work out in the end -- if it doesn't, it doesn't matter. This too will pass. Appreciate today.
One additional point -- without Dad, this blog wouldn't exist. It was his years of coaching and instruction (especially in baseball) that led me to appreciate the intelligence behind the game. He remains the best coach I've ever had, and the best coach I've ever known. He thinks games like few people I've ever met, and he's able to convey it to kids. My wife met a youth baseball teammate of mine recently for the first time. The first thing out of his mouth was "Dad Zona is the best coach I've ever had! Please tell him I said Hi!" My dad last coached him 21 years ago.
Thanks Dad. Love Ya.