The one thing that never ends – laundry. Think about it, even the day you die, unless you’re buried in the clothes you died in, you will have at least one set of dirty clothes.
Happy Summer Solstice!
The following is taken from the speech I gave at my Father’s retirement party. Because I wrote it to be read aloud, I broke some rules of grammar and wrote it in all-caps, please excuse those little annoyances. Happy Father’s Day to my hero. This one is dedicated to Dad.
THINGS MY FATHER TAUGHT ME
- JUST ABOUT EVERYONE ON THE TEN O’CLOCK NEWS IS EITHER A CHOOCH OR A STROKE.
- LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER.
- DON’T BELIEVE ANYTHING YOU SEE ON T.V.
- THERE’S A RIGHT WAY AND A WRONG WAY TO GO ABOUT DOING THINGS, AND THAT ASSHOLE DID IT THE WRONG WAY.
- BE YOURSELF AND IF PEOPLE DON’T LIKE THAT, YOU DON’T NEED THEM.
- THERE ARE PEOPLE IN THE WORLD WHO CAN’T FIND THEIR ASS WITH BOTH HANDS.
- DO YOUR BEST, THAT’S ALL ANYONE CAN ASK OF YOU AND IF YOU CAN HONESTLY SAY TO YOURSELF, ‘I DID THE BEST I COULD’ THEN WIN OR LOSE, YOU HAVE NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED OF.
- THERE ARE AT LEAST TEN POSSIBLE WAYS OF GETTING SOMEWHERE AND IF YOU’RE GOING TO ASK HIM FOR DIRECTIONS, HE’S GOING TO TELL YOU ALL TEN OF THEM.
- FAMILY IS THE MOST IMPORTANT THING IN THE WORLD. LOVE THEM, TREAT THEM WELL, AND LIVE FOR THEM.
- FRIENDSHIP IS NOTHING TO TAKE LIGHTLY, IT IS A RESPONSIBILITY AND IF YOU ARE A GOOD FRIEND, YOU WILL HAVE GOOD FRIENDS.
- CHOOSE YOUR FRIENDS WISELY.
- ‘D’ IS NOT A PASSING GRADE.
- PROPER PLANNING PREVENTS PISS-POOR PERFORMANCE.
- THE BEST TIME TO FINISH A HOUSEHOLD PROJECT YOU’VE BEEN PUTTING OFF FOR MONTHS IS THE NIGHT BEFORE YOU HOST A BIG PARTY!
- TEENAGERS WHO THINK IT’S FUN TO GET DRUNK WILL LEARN HOW FUN IT IS TO DO YARDWORK ALL DAY IN 90 DEGREE WEATHER WITH A HANGOVER.
- SWEARING IS A SIGN OF INGNORANCE.
- THERE IS ONE PERSON IN THIS WORLD YOU CAN CALL MOTHER, SO YOU DON’T CALL YOUR MOTHER ‘SHE’ OR ‘HER’. IT’S MOM, OR MOMMY, OR MOTHER. ANYTHING ELSE AND YOU ARE WRONG.
- DOING THINGS, SEEING THINGS, EXPERIENCING THINGS, AND LEARNING THINGS IS MUCH MORE VALUABLE THAN BUYING THINGS AND HAVING THINGS.
- DON’T BE A LIAR OR A SNEAK.
- SOME PEOPLE DON’T KNOW THEIR ASS FROM A HOLE IN THE GROUND.
- LEAVE YOUR SISTER ALONE.
- BE A GOOD EXAMPLE TO YOUR LITTLE BROTHER, ‘CAUSE HE’S WATCHING YOU.
- DON’T SHAKE HANDS LIKE A LIMP FISH. LOOK THE PERSON IN THE EYE AND GIVE HIM A FIRM HANDSHAKE.
- TIME TRAVEL IS POSSIBLE, BECAUSE IF I DON’T STRAIGHTEN UP AND FLY RIGHT, HE’LL KNOCK ME INTO NEXT WEEK.
- TRADITION MEANS SOMETHING.
- NO MATTER HOW MUCH YOU HATE YOUR JOB, IT BEATS DIGGIN’ DITCHES.
- NEVER GIVE UP.
- THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS IN LIFE THAT ARE BETTER THAN A SHARP STICK IN THE EYE.
- EVERY MORNING WHEN YOU LEAVE THE HOUSE YOU SHOULD HAVE TWO GOALS IN MIND… TO HAVE FUN, AND TO LEARN SOMETHING.
I HAVE MY OWN FAMILY NOW, AND I’VE FINALLY LEARNED WHAT IT MEANS TO REALLY DO MY BEST, NOT JUST SAY IT. AND AS I RAISE MY OWN CHILDREN, I DO IT THE BEST I CAN, AND ALWAYS WITH ONE THOUGHT IN THE BACK OF MY MIND, WOULD MY DAD BE PROUD OF THE JOB I’M DOING RIGHT NOW?
FOR ALL THE EXTRA HOURS YOU PUT IN AT WORK SO THAT WE COULD HAVE AND DO AND SEE AND EXPERIENCE, THANK YOU. FOR ALL THE MIDNIGHT SHIFTS YOU HAD TO WORK AND ALL THE DAYS YOU TRIED TO SLEEP WHILE WE PLAYED AND MADE A RACKET DOWNSTAIRS, THANK YOU. FOR TAKING A SCARED, UNCOORDINATED, SKINNY, FOUR-EYED KID AND TEACHING HIM HOW TO THROW A BASEBALL AND HOW TO CATCH A FOOTBALL AND FOR TEACHING HIM HOW TO LOOK SOMEONE IN THE EYE AND GIVE HIM A FIRM HANDSHAKE, THANK YOU. FOR PUSHING ME TO DO RATHER THAN WASTE MY LIFE IN FRONT OF THE IDIOT BOX WATCHING OTHER PEOPLE DO, THANK YOU. FOR TEACHING ME RIGHT FROM WRONG, AND SETTING THE EXAMPLE OF HOW TO BE A STAND-UP GUY, A GOOD SON, A GOOD HUSBAND, A GOOD FRIEND, A GOOD BROTHER, AND A GOOD FATHER, THANK YOU.
AND FOR AS GOOD A DAD AS HE IS, HE’D HAVE BEEN LOST WITHOUT MY MA AND IT’D BE WRONG FOR ME TO NOT INCLUDE HER IN THIS LONG LIST OF THANK YOUS. AND SO FOR YOU BOTH, THANK YOU FOR BEING THE PARENTS THAT YOU WERE AND ARE, FOR BEING THE GRANDPARENTS THAT YOU ARE, FOR LOVING US, AND TEACHING US, AND SUPPORTING US. FOR SLEEPLESS NIGHTS, AND LONG TIRING DAYS. FOR TEACHING US TO APPRECIATE WHAT WE WERE FORTUNATE ENOUGH TO HAVE, AND FOR TEACHING US TO APPRECIATE EACH OTHER, AND FOR GOING WITHOUT SO THAT WE COULD HAVE – THANK YOU.
HAPPY FATHER’S DAY!
Life has no rewind, but it does have playback which, rather than simply being viewed for nostalgia, should be examined for lessons.
Your sacrifices saved the world. Subsequent generations have benefitted from your courage, your spirit, and your blood. We are forever in your debt. Thank you!
Okay, with all the changes and news surrounding the Cubs this week, the news that Don Zimmer has past away in Florida at age 83, is by far the saddest.
When I was 12 years old in the fall of 1985, Don Zimmer was the third base coach for the Cubs. I had an opportunity to be the fill-in bat boy for the Cubs for a day while the regular bat boy was in school at St. Ben’s. I was told to arrive at 10am. Well, the game doesn’t start until 1:20, and there isn’t much for a fill-in bat boy to do for those hours leading up to the game. So I was sat on a stool and told to sit tight until it was time to dress in my pinstripes. I did. Time passed. Players came in. The stereo was turned on. Ryne Sandburg walked by me. I sat quietly afraid to get in the way, but anxious to put on my Cub uniform and run out on the field.
I must have looked bored because from across the room I saw an old bald man beckon me over with his finger. He sat sprawled in a folding chair, wearing his own Cub uniform, and waiting like a kid to go do something fun on the field rather than sit in the clubhouse. I stood in front of him and he asked me my name. I told him. He introduced himself, which was unnecessary because he was Don Zimmer, and I knew who he was.
“Do you know the signs, kid?” he asked me. “No,” I replied. With a brush of the bill of his cap and a sweep of his hand across his chest, he went on to show me the third base coach signs for steal, bunt, swing away, etc.
He was a pro. A major league coach. He was an important man one season out from barely missing the World Series. He was already a baseball legend. He didn’t have to give me the time of day. But he did. He saw a nervous, awed, and somewhat bored kid sitting for hours quietly in a folding chair surrounded by his baseball heroes and not getting in the way or bothering anyone and he engaged that boy. Made him feel for a moment that he was a part of the team. One of the guys. He taught me the secret signs that only the Cubs knew, and now I did too. For that day, I was a Cub. Not because I wore their uniform. Not because I ran out onto Wrigley Field from the Cubs dugout. Not because Rick Sutcliffe sent me to the second base umpire to retrieve the key to the batter’s box. But because Don Zimmer… Popeye… showed me the secret signs.
I don’t remember what the exact signs were. But I remember watching him teach them to me. More importantly, I remember how I felt when he showed them to me, not like I was in the way, but like I belonged. I will forever be grateful to him for that.
Rest In Peace Don Zimmer, and thank you for making this little boy a Cub.
We are a possessive bunch aren’t we? Think for a second of all the things that are yours. Your car, your house, your keys, your shoes, your hat, your TV, your gum, your wallet, your underwear. Those things are yours and yours alone. You own them.
We do the same thing with places. That’s my office, my neighborhood, my hometown, my school, my country.
And of course, we do it with people too. I’d like to introduce you to my wife, my son, my daughter, my father, my mother, my sister, my brother, my friend, my neighbor, my niece, my associate, my boss. And where is my waiter?
Truth is, though, we really and truly own nothing. No one thing, no one place, no one person. Not even ourselves. One day the body will give out and your body will no longer be your body because you will be no longer. When that happens, your wallet is just a wallet. Your car will be sold to someone else and become her car. Your clothes will be given to the poor and become his clothes. Your job will be given to someone else who will take your office and answer to your boss and work with your associates, who will now be his boss and his associates and he’ll hang a picture of his family in his new office. Your keys will be passed around to the others who take possession of what was once your house, your car, your office, your locker, your storage room, and the other thirty keys you’d been carrying around for years with no idea what they go to will be dumped because the mystery of what they unlock will be someone else’s mystery and they won’t be able to figure it out either. Hopefully your underwear will be thrown away.
Your wife will become a widow. She’ll either stay a widow or become someone else’s wife. Your neighbors will get new neighbors. Your parents, kids, and blood family will still own you: “When my Dad was alive he used to….” but you’ll no longer own them.
Even the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we eat is temporary, all to be recycled and eventually used by someone else, at least for the moment.
The old saying, “You can’t take it with you” is true because you can’t take what isn’t yours, and nothing is yours.
So we spend all this time, energy, and money collecting things to call our own, but it’s a fool’s game because the reality is that that’s impossible. Everything we think we own, we only rent. We have it for a short time, and then it isn’t ours anymore. It is left behind for someone else. And so, we should give more thought to what we put our time and energies into, with the knowledge that what we’re collecting we are collecting to leave to others.
New people take over your house, and you are forgotten. Strangers take over your neighborhood and you are forgotten. The memory of you will, in a generation or two, be almost completely forgotten. All that will last is the memories you leave for the people you shared the ride with, and when they’re gone, so too are those memories, and that’s about as permanent as it gets.
So cultivate good memories to leave behind for those few people who will carry them when you’re gone, and know that the rest of it is just someone else’s future garbage, then adjust your priorities accordingly.
And try to clean your underwear really well, just in case some asshole decides to make rags out of them instead of throwing them away.