Call your parents after reading this...

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We all take things for granted.

I am guilty of it just like the next guy. I take everyting for granted - my friends, my family, my health, my life.

We, as humans, find our existence as a day-to-day experience. We never really think about "the big picture". In 100 years from now will anyone really know about the trails and tribulations of our petty lives?

We get upset over the most innane things. We always think there will be another day to do something. We rarely remember those who are important in our lives. My life is full of times when I think to myself: "I wish I had another chance".

The most recent one was with my father. For the last 4 years he was battling a form of Non Hodgkins Lymphoma called "Mantle Cell Lymphoma". No one is quite sure how the cancer forms, I have heard that pesticides may be to blame for its creation. It only affects about 5,000 people per year (worldwide), and is a very rare form of cancer.

When he first contracted it, he was a trooper about fighting it. He immediately started chemotherapy at a University hospital in Philadelphia. Sadly, he had a toxic reaction to the chemotherapy, which is very rare, but once again fate has a funny way of dealing the cards.

The toxic reaction mimicked a certain aspects of a stroke. His speech was severly affected, and for those that knew my father, this was a terrible fate. He was a very charismatic person who would immediately light up a room as he entered. People gravitated to my father, in the last month I have heard more quite a few people refer to him as a "mentor".

His balance was also affected, and his immune system was thrown into disarray. He had a constant fight with upper respiratory congestion, too much exertion would throw him into coughing fits. But, he fought on.

He tried stem cell, radiation and experimental drugs. His attitude was that if he could live another day, that was one day longer that he may see a cure. I never heard him complain during all these years. He never told me how unfair life could be. He never said that God wronged him.

Like the man before the cancer, and the man after the cancer - he went about his life with the same steadfast determination that he instilled in all his children. One of many things that I thank my father for after all these years.

But I never got to thank him.

My father died on August 23rd, 2004.

My relationship with him was, well, strange. We weren't the kind of father and son that would go out, throw a few beers back and talk about the crazy week I had in Las Vegas. We never really talked about anything except Eagles football, my job and when my next raise was.

We never really were able to communicate with each other, it is hard to explain in words, but as charismatic my father was with everyone else in the world - our relationship was more of a "teacher / student". It never really bothered me until after he died - sadly, I realize that there won't be another day to talk to him about things like what I write.

Don't get me wrong. I am not hiding in my closet, gripping a picture of dear old Dad fxi0704.JPG
and lamenting the world while listening to Morrissey croon in the distance. I certainly had my chances in life, which I did tell him that I loved him. I do love him and I know that I did make my peace with him during those last four years that he battled cancer.

What I regret is that our relationship never grew any further from a very formal situation. Dad was very good to me, which is more than many people get from their own fathers in life. He was a wonderful provider and a great Dad, in many ways. He taught little league, and I know that he meant well when he did this, but if you ever have children please don't be their head coach.

My earliest memory is my father coaching the Ravens, a little league team I was on in 6th grade. I played outfield - actually right field. I loved it until the day came that my brother broke the news to me - "Furey, you know that right field is for the WORST little league baseball players, right? That is where they stick the rejects!"

I'm not sure how long after this was, but my father decided to give me a shot at 2nd base. I was nervous as hell, my brother's bullied words hanging over me while I tried to act like I knew what the hell I was doing at second base.

So its the first play of the game. We take to the field, and i'm standing at second base crouched over just waiting for that hit to come to me. Well, ain't life a bitch - but the first god dammed hit of the game comes right at me, in the form of a ground ball.

I promptly bobble it, and the runner gets to first while the goof at second base couldn't handle a ground ball. So, what happens next is laughable if it wasn't happening to you.

Dad makes a change to the infield and sends me out to right field. So lets recap shall we?

I'm in 6th grade.

The first play of the game I mess up.

Dad sends me to right, LOSER, field.

In front of my entire team and in front of the whole other team, plus all the other parents of the kids who are there.

I was waiting for maybe one of the other kids parents to walk up to me after the game and say "Hey Furey, here is my card - call me and we can start therapy right away."

My Dad and I are competitive people. In his mind, I am sure he wanted to make sure he won that game and made a strategic decision not based on if I was his son or not - just what was best for the team. He gave the gawky kid from right field his chance and the kid blew it.

After the game, does Ward Cleaver sit me down and talk about what happened? Nope. ward_cleaver.jpg
We lost the game, so it was a silent car ride home.

So this is just an example for everyone how it kind of all started. Its not just something "you fix" with a quick: "Hey Dad - you know we haven't talked for 30-odd years, lets just start fresh. I'll begin. You know that I moderate a website with a bunch of other goof offs for fun..."

But things were getting better. He knew about my bartending days, and my restaurant reviews, and a few stories about Hoboken life.

In the end, it was too little, but in some ways not too late. I thank him for making me the man I am today, but only wish I could have had a second chance. Sometimes we get wrapped up in this life that we live and forget to see that in a few short years we all will be gone. What we make of that time now really does mean something.

Do me a favor. Pick up the phone and call your parents. Tell them you love them and thank them for everything they did. I had this chance to tell my father that, because of the cruel nature of cancer he lived for four tortourous years battling the disease.

What I didn't get was the relationship that I hoped would come with time and age. I hoped that maybe some day we would come to a better understanding of each other. That day was never going to come, and I only regret that I didn't use the time I was given to bring that moment to light on my own.

Thank you, Dad.

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This page contains a single entry by Furey published on October 10, 2004 5:59 PM.

The later years was the previous entry in this blog.

Top 5 Things I Miss About Philadelphia is the next entry in this blog.

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