Life Changes in an Instant
By Paul V. Scholl
Sharing my birthday, the Fourth of July, with my son, Gabriel.
Father’s Day. A day that could mean so much more to so many more dads. If we only knew.
Yes, its seems like it was just yesterday that my son was born. Where did twenty years go?
And it seems like it was just the day before that my father passed away as we held hands and I looked into his eyes for the last time. Where did twenty seven years go?
I remember one late afternoon, just after a storm had passed, driving on the 680 freeway with my son. He was sitting in the passenger seat (which was actually legal back then). I noticed he was staring at the clouds for some time, holding my hand. With a great deal of certainty, he said matter-of-factly, “Dad, God is a hand. He just reaches down and holds you.”
Profound. He was only about four years old. I just let the moment sink in, not saying a word for miles.
On another trip about a year later, on a day that followed a particularly rough week, we shared another of those spiritually special moments. Again, as he sat next to me, he just patted the top of my right hand with his in that way that a son does. He turned and looked at me and said “This time you’re the dad and I'm the boy.”
Our first time on the dance floor at my brother’s wedding.
It was just yesterday that I took him to his first baseball game at the Oakland Coliseum. Thank God for cameras. All he wanted to be for years afterwards was a big league baseball player. It drove him to be a fantastic player and an even better teammate. All those days coaching and practicing now seem like a blur, but what a blur!
Years later we made baseball trips to the Midwest and New York. When I learned they were closing old Yankee Stadium, I was determined to get him there. We spent a week in New York. It was dad with his grown son just hanging out in the Big Apple. And we got to see the Yankees sweep the Twins. A treasure I’ll never forget.
When it came time for buying his first car, he did all the research. He checked things out online, then made his decision. A good deal, but he did learn what “As Is” means real fast.
We once made a trip to Fort Bragg for a long weekend. We stopped in for dinner at a fancy restaurant. I mentioned to the staff where we were from, and that I had returned after many years to share their great food with my son. The owner, chef and the waitress all helped coach him on “how to act in a nice restaurant, especially when taking a young lady out for dinner.” It was really a kick to see him enjoy it.
I remember going to my first professional basketball game with my dad. Somewhere I still have the ticket stub. The Warriors and John Havlececk’s Boston Celtics at the Cow Palace. It was awesome. I think I was eight.
I remember the times my dad spent coaching me. I didn’t know until years later that he was an All-League star in high school and three-time league champion. I didn’t know he was also a track and field star.
I remember many of our family camping trips. His pancakes, scrambled eggs, and burnt toast. I remember how we would all play games and cards on the old wooden camp tables under dim lights and blankets.
Our father and son weekend in Fort Bragg.
One Sunday, my dad and I and a bunch of family friends went to a 49ers and Rams game at Candlestick Park. It was so much fun because my team, the Rams, came back and won in the fourth quarter. I often say I was a Rams fan as a little kid just so I could get more of his attention for rooting for the other team.
There were days I would go with him to run errands and meet his buddies. I learned over the years that he got into just as much trouble goofing off as I did. It made our relationship so special to know those things about him.
I remember my dad’s passing. Almost every little detail. Especially sitting in the room with him alone for the hour after he passed. Silent. Serene. Relief. Joy. Great appreciation.
Rarely a day goes by that I do not think about my dad. I know I would give a year of my life to spend just one more day with him.
Never does a day pass that I do not yearn for seeing my son. He is off finishing college, then off to the rest of his life soon after.
I guess the message here is, life changes in an instant. Don’t miss it. Make it a Happy Father’s Day.