"Man, you sound like Grandpa."
Those were the words my teenage son used when I so politely encouraged the driver in front of us to go a little faster.
I told my son, "You'll get there one day."
Normally Father's Day means the clan gathers at Mom's house (after all these years, we still it call it Mom's house) for barbecue and beers, but today Dad is in his hometown of Raton, New Mexico, where his sister Doris died Tuesday. Aunt Doris, who I barely knew and last saw six years ago, was very much a mother to my father, who lost his at a young age.
My dad is a child at heart. That can be both good and bad, believe me. I am indeed my father's son, in so many ways, and you can see Dad's actions and expressions and influence in every other male in the family; you can hear him in every laugh, every curse, every dirty joke.
It is my father from whom my love of sports was acquired. We don't just take our sports seriously; we take them personally. I have learned over the years to control those emotions; 162 mood swings a year proved to be unhealthy, which only intensified when the A's season extended past September.
Every time Dad would drop us off at the Coliseum before an A's game, he'd say the same thing: "Bring home a winner." Regardless of the result he would be there to pick us up, and we'd listen to the post-game on the way home. That was a summer long ritual for us, and he'd honk his horn through the tunnel on San Leandro Boulevard on those nights that we "brought home a winner."
For a little-things guy like me, those are the things I cling to when I think about Dad.
I keep thinking back to the picture in baseballgirl's AN Day post; the one with the three generations of A's fans. Right now I'm the middle guy in that story, having the privilege of attending A's and Raider games with my father and son. I was never the youngest (my Dad's dad died before I was born), but if I am lucky, someday I will be the "old man" in that photo. (Not too soon, I hope).
It's funny; these blog sites have allowed me the outlet to speak of sports in personal and emotional terms. Through my posts, those that have taken the time to read have gotten to know a good number of family members.
Yet you rarely read a word about 67MARQUEZ, Jr.
I don't know of it's a protective reflex, or maybe the level of emotion when it comes to my son is too overwhelming. Maybe I hope that he will want to tell his own story someday. For a young man still a few months shy of his 17th birthday, it has been a long journey and, all too often, unkind.
The day I realized I was no longer his hero is something I will never forget. But in the years that have followed- particularly this past year- I have sensed a change in him towards me even more meaningful than when I was the guy who could do no wrong.
I don't see his recent struggles (too many and too personal to list) as my struggles. I see them as an opportunity. A chance to teach, to nurture, to become closer. I am in his ear so often these days the sound of my voice probably makes him ill. And yet the questions continue; the need to know that I know what he is going through continues.
The other day we were in the car, and I said something funny that took a second to register. And then we both lost it. We came to a red light and we were literally in tears, pounding our hands on the dashboard. I honestly can't remember the last time we laughed so hard together.
As I finally caught my breath, I thought to myself, "Man, I sound like his grandpa."
And it made me smile.