By Mark Carpenter –
I think it is pretty common that the older we get, we kind of begin to take our parents for granted. I am fortunate enough to have both parents still with me, both in their 80’s and both in relatively good health, other than the normal issues that arise when you are over 80. Father’s Day is this Sunday and fathers all over the world will be celebrated, but in my humble opinion, I have a Dad who should be celebrated every day of the year.
Sometimes it takes a certain event to jolt one’s memory and to make one appreciate what they have had in life and I guess that happened for me over the past weekend. I decided to dig into a closet of “stuff” that I had not touched in years and when I got in there, it was nothing short of a sports gold mine for me. I was instantly transported back into the 60’s and 70’s and it became quickly evident to me that none of those things would be there in the bottom of my closet if it was not for my Dad.
I found tons of old Reds scorebooks, where I had kept score every time, thanks Dad for teaching me that. There were three scorebooks in there from September 1972, all from the Astrodome and all scored by me. Why was I at the Astrodome? Thanks again Dad. There were tubs full of old baseball and football yearbooks, I didn’t have any money as a kid, so where do you think all those came from? I spent all the money I had on baseball cards, where do you think that money came from? It doesn’t take one long to figure out how my closet got full of every type of memorabilia possible, thanks Dad!
The older I get, the more I realize how much like my Dad I am turning out to be, but I will never even be close to being the man he is. Very few people know of all the people my Dad has helped over the years, not wanting any glory, just wanting to help someone in need. He ran a million dollar shoe business, spent over 30 years dealing with egos and issues as a school board member, was responsible for the beginning of the Ripley Pee-Wee Basketball program, coached Knothole teams for many years (having to suffer through coaching a very immature me), has been a church elder for too long to remember, traveled all over southern Ohio watching me feebly attempt to coach baseball and basketball as well as he did, and now gets to relax and enjoy his Roku TV (which I can’t even figure out), and bask in the successes of his grandchildren and his soon-to-be first great-grandchild. Like I said, I have no hope of ever being half the man he was and still is.
When special days like Father’s Day roll around, all kinds of memories flood into one’s mind, far more than I could ever write on these pages. It was my Dad, who while we were at one of the many card shows in the city that he always took me to, urged me to get an autograph from the special guest and even paid for it- Joe DiMaggio. It was my Dad, who at a spring training game in Florida (where we went every year), who urged me to go over and ask this guy for his autograph- Stan Musial. It was my Dad who made sure that in 1972 , 1973, and 1975, we were at playoff and World Series games at Riverfront Stadium. Ask my Mom sometime to tell the story of going to a World Series game and not being able to find a parking place anywhere, so Dad pulls into a gas station, asks for an oil change, and tells them we will pick up the car after the game.
Most of what I have written to this point seems to say that my Dad always had his wallet open for me any time that I wanted, though all I really remember is a little change purse he always had in his pocket that always seemed to have enough change for some baseball cards. But being a Dad is much more than financial, as I have learned myself over the past 24 years with my own two children. More important than being there with the wallet is just being there period. Though my Dad is the quiet type, he has led by example for all of his nearly 85 years on earth.
I only hope that as my kids get older they will look back at me as someone who helped them as much as my Dad helped me. and still helps me. Sometimes I feel like I am just a breathing ATM, but hopefully somewhere they realize why I worry every time they are out and message them every time I hear about a wreck in the city. Yeah, it’s probably annoying now, like it was when I was a teenager and had to find a pay phone to call home if I was going to be late for any reason.
It is all really rather simple and I hope that you can say the same thing this weekend when you celebrate your father, whether he is still with us or not. I just wanna be like my Dad.