A Tribute To Dads

Dear Dad,<BR> This is a letter of thanks to my dad and all dads. You have made me the man I am. In many ways you have put me where I am today. You gave me a love of sports. You gave me a love of writing. Sundays spent on the sofa or at the ballpark paid off. I may not be a great athlete, but at least I get to write about them.<P>

This column ran last Fathers Day. I reprint it for those who missed it. You have helped shaped my life, my talent and my character. Both you and mom have always been there for me. You were there for the good times and you were certainly there for the bad times. How many times did things go wrong and you said, "let's put things in perspective"?

In a way you got me this job. 10 years ago you introduced me to Doug Carr after he saw one of my sketches in your office. I did some cartoons for Cat Tracks almost a decade ago. That led to some writing assignments. Now I am editor. Who would have thought that a hastily drawn picture of Charles Barkley on a dry eraser board would have led to this?

In another way you got me this job. You took me to my first Wildcat games. I still remember the confusion as the Kansas State Wildcats squared off against the Arizona Wildcats. It took me 15 minutes to realize that there were two SEPARATE teams named "Wildcats" playing. I remember going to Arizona Stadium to watch the Cats beat up on Oregon State. You made the mistake of calling the Beavers the "pumpkin heads" and I must have chanted that all night.

We became Wildcat fans together. You grew up a Jayhawk fan. You went to Cornell. We moved to Tucson in the mid-70's and now we both bleed Cardinal and Navy.

You took me to spring training games. You took me to Toros games. You even took me to Tucson Gunner games. We watched football on Sundays. I am a Royals fan because of you. I am a Chiefs fan because of you. I respect Ali and Sugar Ray because of you.

It wasn't always great. You worked hard and long hours. You also took time for yourself. There were times as a kid I didn't see you because I went to bed before you got home. You took the jobs away from Tucson. Ironically enough, we became close when I was a teenager. The hormones may have been raging, but we could bond over a ballgame or a game of catch.

We became closer that summer in Albuquerque. Whiffle ball in the back yard. Running the infamous buttonhook in front of the grill. Three years later it was a summer in San Diego where it was Padres games, Hacksaw on the radio and Linguini with clam sauce in the hotel restaurant.

As adults we are now friends. We've gone on vacations, most of which are sports related. Two Final Fours. We agonized as the Cats blew a 20-0 lead in Berkeley. There were countless Suns games where we could almost script when the comeback would occur. We saw the first regular season Coyotes game. We've seen a ton of Diamondbacks games and we've seen countless Wildcat games.

It wasn't just sports either. How many projects did we do around the house? How many things did we build and fix? I hated them then, but when I fixed my hot water heater or installed a dog door I was glad you made me help. We bickered and we argued, but I learned.

You were the one who got me reading the sports page. You'd point out the columnists. You'd bring good examples of writing to me after a business trip. You got me my first subscription to "Sports Illustrated". Did you know you were shaping my writing, or did you just want to show me something neat? You and mom read, so I read. I read Jerry Kramer's "Instant Replay" in 7th grade because you said it was good. To this day you call me to ask if I have read the latest Greg Hansen column or if I watched the "Sports Reporters" on ESPN.

You sacrificed a lot. You took people into your house all the time. When wasn't there a houseguest. Aunt Connie, Aunt Linda and Uncle Larry all spent time in the spare bedroom. You let some of my friends stay when they had nowhere else to go. You even let me move back in when times were toughest. Now that it is just you and mom I can't help but think of Bill Cosby, always dreaming about the day when there would be no more kids in the house. Now there are just you two and the dogs, I hope you are happy. You both deserve it.

Like any family we survived a lot of tough times. The lean times between jobs. The passing of grandma and grandpa. Saying goodbye to some beloved pets.

We've had good times as well. Championships, graduations and family trips.

To all the fathers out there, we all realize how important you are. If you have a child in the house, know that you matter to them even if they don't always show it. If you live apart, call eachother often and make sure they know you care. If they've moved on their own, call them anyways. A child is never too old to hear from Dad.

Really, I just wanted to say happy Father's Day. I just wanted to say, "thank you." I just wanted to say I love you.


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