My father was a fan of The General, that famous basketball coach who threw a chair in a ranting rage tantrum. I think my father saw himself in Bob Knight. I did too, particularly in their displays of anger which were quick and explosive, and silenced those around them. But to me my father's anger projected inward as pure frustration. He became frustrated when, time after time, the world didn't get certain things right. Things that were so simple - serve the food hot, smile when you greet strangers, thank a veteran - every single person should be able to do it.
For a long time my father was angry with me. His impatience with me simply wore him out. Not when I was a kid - when I was a kid he let me be a kid all day, all over town, as was the norm. But one day I felt him look to me with an expectation that I didn't understand. Common of his generation, so I say to myself, it was something about fitting his idea of an adult. So, I fought and I rebelled, but most of all I fled. And my father, contrary to the ways of Bob Knight, didn't fight me back.
Then around the time I settled down in central Texas my father took a liking to where I'd chosen to stay put. A small town where one doesn't have to prioritize competing with the status quo. And he had always been impressed with Andi, my wife, an attorney of Law. But she'd prepare him the best mango margarita he'd ever imagine. And he was sold.
And he was no longer upset. In fact, my father became my best ally. And I became his.
My old man passed away on the sunny morning of May 27th after a year-long fight with cancer. He introduced me to Benjamin Britten and to the vodka gimlet. He shared with me his joy of running the mower over bluegrass on a weekend afternoon. He generally preferred to keep the conversation light. But his love was deep and generous.
My dad: Francis William Hugh St.Leger