Quad Cities Is Losing A Local Softball Legend
IT HAS BEEN SAID THAT "EVERY CHILD'S FIRST SUPER HERO IS THEIR FATHER".
This is insanely true. What we know of super heroes is that some are very serious (looking at you Bat Man) and some are ridiculous (Hi Elastic Man),...
My Father was somewhere in between. He was a savior to a few, a friend to many, and an overall a delightful human being.
My Father was Shazam... a child in a man's body.
YEAH... maybe he wasn't a Super Hero... but he was FUN.
My Father LIVED for FUN. UGH. He is not my Father-- he is my POP! If you need to know why he is my Pop read this post from 2 years ago after I interviewed him on the Don't Hassle Us We're Local show.
There were very few people who did not like my Father-- and if you are one of them reading this right now, I will let you know that it did not bother him that you did not like him. You are in a minority and you could MAYBE fill a bowling team.
Every family-- be it traditional, divorced, blended, etc has one person that is "the fun one". And you know what I am writing about-- the "well they get to be the FUN one."
I think that is OK. We need the "FUN" in authority and life lessons.
Pop... Ron... Dad.... Bubbles... was fun and cool....
Every memory, good or bad, of my Pop still has some sort of fun to it.
SING LIKE NO ONE IS LISTENING. DANCE LIKE NO ONE IS WATCHING. THAT'S NO FUN....
AHHHHHHH.... No way. That man sang at the top of his lungs and he wanted you to hear. Also, he wanted you to watch while he danced. The nickname "Bubbles" came from his dancing.
Before I knew who "Weird" Al Yankovich was, my Pop was making up dumb lyrics to already established songs on car rides. He also would sing the high notes and belt out the low notes, all the while encouraging my brother and I to sing along-- and happily we did.
Talking about the importance of lyrics or where the song was a personal historical memory to him became a conversation and I can't lie to you-- I can do the same about most significant, and insignificant, songs in my lifetime.
TYING A TIE CAN BE FUN...
When I was 9 years old, I so desperately wanted to learn to tie a neck tie. I wanted to wear a tie to school every Friday in 3rd grade. I had clip-on ties but I hated them. I wanted a real tie. I was frustrated that I could not tie a neck tie.
Pop just calmly explained to me that tying a tie was no different than tying a horse saddle.
WHAT???!!?? What does a 9 year old know about tying a horse saddle.
As he was telling me stories about being on a horse ranch, he was slowly showing me how to tie the tie around my neck. As I listened to the story, I watched him in the mirror tie the neck tie. He took my frustration and made it into a fun story he could share with me.
I have known how to tie a neck tie since I was 9 years old.
A FART CAN BE FUN...
I was 6 years old and we had this really awful family photo shoot in my Grandparent's basement. Think "Glamour Shots" with a 1982 twist to it.
My brother, Chip, and I were BOTH dressed in these maroon, velvet V-neck long sleeved shirts, with white turtlenecks underneath. I am sure I was a great participant in this photo shoot, but for those who don't know my brother-- I think he only smiled in a total of 5 photos in his life before he met his wife, Rachel.
Anyway, Chip wouldn't smile for the photos. At some point, before the photographer said, "Cheese", someone farted. I fell over laughing and Chip cracked a smile.
I know it wasn't me who farted. For years I blamed Chip. I am sure it was my Pop.
MAKE YOUR OWN FUN...
Growing up, we were at a softball diamond 3 nights a week and every weekend-- Spring, Summer, and Fall. Obviously, we did not have internet. So if we weren't playing on playgrounds in Dixon, IA, Walcott, IA, Tipton, IA, Blue Grass, IA, Donahue, IA-- you get it, we were finding other things to do.
One time, I think I was about 10, I asked my Pop if I could "call" the game for him. He was pitching in Donahue, IA for the team Russeloy Foundry and I wanted to call his fastball, rise ball, drop ball, knuckle ball as if I was the catcher. He agreed.
I sat in the bleachers behind the dish and put my fingers up to call pitches. He shook me off some times and nodded in agreement other times. I was so proud.
I'm pretty sure he was taking the REAL calls from his catcher, Denny Jepsen, but I will always remember how cool that was.
To this day, he has never told me the truth.
SIDE NOTE: years later, I actually caught my Pop, in multiple fast pitch softball games, and I can't print the conversations we had on the bump when he DID NOT throw what I called on an 0-2 count.
FORGIVENESS IS MORE FUN THAN ANGER...
Did I get into trouble as a child???? Does a fat baby fart?
Of course I did.
There were only a few occasions that I really remember my Pop really getting frustrated with me to the point of being very angry.
You never wanted to hear the "GOD Damn It, Jay!" but I am talking about REALLY angry.
One time involved the Bettendorf Police in October of 1992... it is actually a funny story that later he found humor in.
Another time was a conversation that I took a joke too far.
And once I lost my baseball glove at Herbert Hoover Elementary baseball field... that is a BIG, HUGE no no in Pop's world.
But for all the other things I did wrong, that he was so quick to yell and punish me-- he was faster to say, "I'm sorry I reacted that way. I am sorry I spoke that way. Here is why I was upset _____________________. Let's not repeat these mistakes."
Forgiveness is more fun than anger.
I could keep writing about Pop and share more stories but it will never be therapeutic enough.
He is dying.
As I type this post, he is minutes away from taking his last breath. I have made peace with this and so have my brothers, Chip and Ryan.
In fact, 72 hours ago I told him, "It's time. Give up the ball. Take yourself out of the game." But somehow he is still trying to throw that last pitch.
I wanted to share this with any readers because Father's Day is right around the corner. Instead of telling your Dad/Father/Pop/Step-Father that they are "The Best Dad Ever" Instead of posting of social media about how "lucky" you are to have them as a Dad. Giive them specific moments or memories. It will mean more to YOU and to THEM.
My Pop was one of a kind. And if you haven't already clicked the LINK above about my post/interview with him from 2019 here is the entire 45 minutes....
AND IT WAS AND IT IS AWESOME....