THE PRAYERS OF THIS ENTIRE NATION IS WITH YOUR DAD AND YOUR FAMILY 66. CONSIDER US A PART OF YOUR EXTENDED FAMILY. GO BRUINS. -N
He Would Have Loved Last Night's Game.
I wanted all of you who had sent me kind notes and messages, and who had put my father in your thoughts and prayers, to know that Dad passed away, early Sunday morning.
UCLA sports played a very meaningful role in my life with my Dad. Sons and fathers bond in different ways at different times. When I was a kid, Dad worked many jobs. He was orphaned and poor as a child and placed a high priority on working to make sure we were safe and secure. He wasn't around much until my last year in college. UCLA sports were part of a new solid foundation that formed the very strong bond that held us together.
In my last year at UCLA, I was a yell leader. I got two tickets to every game -- basketball and football. They went to my folks. During that season, a special relationship was formed, one that lasted and will last, forever. We had great moments that year. The come from behind victory over sc and the Rose Bowl win. After each, we met and hugged and jumped up an down.
From that year on, we listened to, watched or talked about every game. When I lived in Wisconsin, before the days of the 'net, Dad would put a telephone in front of a TV or radio so I could hear the play-by-play. Wherever I was in the world, I shared each game with my Dad.
Before moving to Texas, I was in LA for a dozen years. We had just adopted our daughter, Jenny. Jenny always had Bruin song girl clothing -- we started the indoctrination early. She would lead cheers as Dad and I sat on the couch watching our Bruins play.
As I wrote several weeks ago, when the poll about the best Bruin moment was up -- I was blessed, I saw both of those plays, on the couch with my Dad. During the first, he was healthy; during the Gonzaga game, he was already fading -- but he had the strength to celebrate with gusto.
For the last 40 years of my life with my father, being Bruins was a bond as strong as our shared DNA.
Which was ironic. Because Dad went to the Eastman School of Music, in Rochester, taught at the USC music school for more than 35 years, and had another son, my brother who graduated from Stanford. (And, I graduated fromthe USC Law Center.)
To really understand my Dad, you have to know why he quit teaching at USC. Dad had a student who was very wealthy -- so wealthy that his family gave a tremendous amount of money to the university; the student also bought a very expensive string instruement collection that he loaned to key faculty members. The student wouldn't practice. He didn't apply himself. Dad warned him he was going to flunk and when he didn't improve, Dad flunked him. Or so he thought. The university let the student stay in school and, in an end run around my Dad, assigned him to another teacher. Dad quit on the spot. He hated that school because it worshiped wealth and privilege at the expense of academic integrity. (Dad's students from USC understood and remained deeply committed to him for the remainder of his life. They are throwing a music festival in his honor -- a time when they will play great music and tell great stories.)
Dad would have loved last night's game, as he loved the game at galen. He loved the way this team plays because it plays with committment, discipline and passion -- the very qualities Dad demanded from his bassoon students.
As best we could, we shared the game with Dad. We sat where we usually sat in front of the TV, put our favorite picture of Dad on his favorite music stand, and put it in front of his big screen tv. When the game was over, we each turned to the picture and celebrated with a few words.
In the last year, as Dad began to fade, he slept through much of the games. We couldn't stay on the phone for the couple of hours it took to play them. I was so used to jabbering during the game I felt a bit lost -- until I joined the game day threads. Games days were like old times. Several tiimes, this year, when I was home, I'd watch with Dad. While he slept, I chatted with all of you. I am really glad there is a Bruins Nation.
Bruins Nation is different things to different people. When I joined I never thought it would allow me to continue a tradition that holds great meaning and sentiment for me. Nothing will ever replace sharing UCLA sports with my Dad. But, this Nation will bring me fond memories and pleasure.
I have not posted for a while -- the grief was too great, for I knew that I had to tell all of you who had been so kind about Dad's passing and it's just been real hard to tell people.
But, last night's game seemed a fitting moment to step ut and rejoin this little part of my life.
Once more, thank you for all of the acts of kindness, thoughts and prayers.