I lost my father yesterday, he was 64. I wouldn't say he had been ill, but he had been in a lot of pain recently, and his death was not entirely unexpected but still shocking. There won't be a funeral, but several memorial services coming up on the east coast and in Arizona where my mother lives. I'm going home to be with her on Friday, but until then I am at work, grateful for the distraction of media lists and press releases. My father wasn't a phone person, and since we lived on opposite coasts, we didn't see a lot of each other, so I feel like it will take longer to really hit me. What's amazing is how many friends I have who have lost a parent young, it's a shitty club to join but comforting to have so many friends who understand. My father, originator of the famous "Who is this Harry Potter asshole?" line, was a true original. Here are some of my favorite memories:
*He would ask of every boy I dated in high school, "Does he play ball?," referring of course to baseball (he was a Red Sox man all the way). I would inevitably reply, "No, but he's in a band/skateboards/etc." He would then snort, "Well, he sounds like a chump," and he was usually right.
*He was a huge fan of the My Blue Heaven line, "The shoes are tragic," and he would tell me that regularly during my Doc Martens/combat boot phase in high school.
*After the Seinfeld episode when George comes up with the lame line, "Oh yeah? Well, the jerk store called: they're running out of you!" he left me a note that read: "The jerk store called, they want you back for a second interview!" I was looking for my first job at the time and I still have the note.
*After we discovered that we had some African blood, he wrote to me to say that he wasn't surprised as his walk had often been described as "a pimp roll." This makes the second time I have used that phrase on this blog, funny enough.
*He won his last major case just a week ago and asked the judge if he could deliver his closing statement sitting down, as his legs were bothering him. The judge later asked him about his health and told him, "Well, you better take care of yourself. You're ornery and you read good books, we need more people like you."
*My father was in the Dartmouth fraternity that was the basis for the movie Animal House and his friend Chris Miller recently wrote a book about it. In the afterward, he says that "Sugar Ray is a defense attorney in Tucson, Arizona. He still has a great sneer." My mother also features prominently in the book, he says that "her smiles balance his sneers." Here it is, about 20 years ago:
When I go home to Tucson this weekend, I will go to my father's favorite bar and raise a glass (or many) to him. I plan to sit on his stool and try to muster up a good sneer.