Saying Good-bye to My Father Who Never Drank

My Dad is lying in a hospital bed in Brainerd, MN. Just that is enough to cause concern about his survival. Small towns and hospitals—need I say more! Mom left me a message, Your dad had a little UTI, so we took him to the ER and they also found a little pneumonia, not bad just a bit. And…oh… a little heart attack.

Classic SOS left on my voice mail from my mom. She’s always afraid of upsetting people, but she wants me to call as soon as possible. Of course, I did. She was sleeping, so I don’t have any details yet.

Today I’m going to write on gratitude. These are the things I’m grateful for concerning my dad.

  • He taught me how to cast under a birch limb along the bank and bait a minnow.
  • He took the family canoe-camping on the boundary waters between Minnesota and Canada.
  • He always welcomed our friends, some of whom stayed the entire summer with us.
  • He taught me how to build a campfire with a single match and fan it with a cowboy hat.
  • He taught me to live the nomad life of tents, trailers and a hut.
  • He taught me how to drive a speed boat, slide alongside the dock without a ripple and how to shoot the narrows in a power skid.
  • He taught me how to play basketball, dive from a platform into shallow water, run a race, skip stones, and throw a football.

Frankly, the thing I’m really grateful for today as he lies dying is that I’ve been able to forgive him for the things that I held against him for decades. He didn’t deserve that. No one deserves un-forgiveness. I’m glad that I learned about the importance of Steps 4 and 9 and making amends. I apologized to him also, but he only looked surprised, so either it really wasn’t necessary for him to hear it or he never thought I could do it. Hard to say.

My dad, who could hardly talk to me about anything other than nature or sports, always seemed to read my mind. (It didn’t occur to me until recently that everyone can read me if they are so inclined. I don’t bother hiding much.)

For years he’s been bedridden after several heart attacks and strokes. His game is almost over. He played as hard as he could. No one is perfect, certainly not me. I can’t go say goodbye, but thanks to God and my AA program, I have no regrets and I’m no longer bitter.

Dale Fogle could hush a whole stadium of people without any effort and send a room full of people into laughing fits. His trophies still dominate display cases in the entrances of NE Iowa schools. He’s in several halls of fame for his unsurpassed coaching records in football, girls basketball and girls and boys track. Very controversial, he always had enemies. Very charismatic, he always had fans.

We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it.~ AA pg 83