My roots in Lawrence run deep and so does my love for the University of Kansas. I'm a Jayhawk because of my dad. His family came to Lawrence as part of the Massachusetts Emigrant Aid society to ensure that Kansas became and remained a Free State. We've been proud Jayhawkers ever since.
Over the years I've told people stories about how my family would climb onto the roof of the house with a radio just so we could listen to Jayhawk games. This was back before cable and we lived in OKC. If the KU game wasn't broadcast that week, we would climb on the roof to listen to it on the radio because we could get better reception. We listened to football and basketball games up there. My mom would climb the ladder bearing trays of sandwiches, chips and cans of pop so we'd have something to eat during the games. The neighbors must have thought we were crazy. And we were. Crazy for KU. Sometimes, after the game had ended, we would stay on the roof for hours (or until my mom made us come down) as my dad told us stories about his time at KU. He has stories about Phog, Dick Harp (my dad would practice with the Jayhawks back in those days), Wilt, Clyde, John Hadl, Mitchell, Rodgers and the rest. He instilled in me the history of Lawrence and KU.
Anyway, my dad and my youngest brother had watched the MU-KU game on Saturday at his house on Saturday. After the final buzzer, my dad was elated but exhausted. All dad could talk about was the upcoming KU-OSU game on Monday night. If KU won that game, he knew that KU would have clinched sole possession of the Big XII trophy.
Monday morning dad fell and hit his head. One of my older brothers had stopped by the house to check on him, found dad unconscious and called an ambulance. Dad was taken to the hospital where it was discovered that he had pancreatic and other cancers. The doctors said he was terminal and wasn't expected to live much longer. I won't bore you with the protracted events of the day, suffice it to say that dad was going to stay in the hospital for a few days before being sent home with hospice care.
After a day's worth of medical testing dad was moved into a room and, after asking about the time, he insisted that the KU-OSU game be put on the television. The staff was a little reluctant because my siblings were waiting to see him and they didn't want the television to interfere with the visit. My dad told them that his kids would understand that he "had to watch his boys play [basketball]" because it was an important game. The game was put on and shortly afterward my siblings were allowed into the room. They gathered around my dad's hospital bed and watched the game together. After the final buzzer, my dad asked what the final score was and then talked about clinching the Big XII. Dad was one happy man. He went to sleep and passed away half an hour later.
My dad was born a Jayhawk and died a Jayhawk. I just want to thank Bill and the Jayhawks for making my dying father a happy man.