following Ken Arneson
My whole family is in New York right now–mom, brother and sister, their spouses and my niece. I’m at my sister’s house, taking care of her dogs. It’s a bit lonely here, but not having a dad is kind of liberating today. I have nowhere to be except by his graveside. I have what feels like all the time in the world to reflect on his life and our mutual love of baseball.
He was a great man. He was beloved by many and he had an ability to draw people close–to get them to trust him. He never took advantage of that. He loved to talk to people, but felt most comfortable with the ones he loved. He loved his mother and struggled at times with the guilt he felt caring for her. He loved the finer things in life. He loved golf too much. He lost his brother, business partner and best friend, Billy, in the mid-90s and struggled with that for years. He had a huge collection of wines, some of which he told me to save for my wedding (when I was 15) and my sister’s unborn daughter’s wedding. He loved telling people what they should and shouldn’t do.
He also had some hard luck. After he retired, he went to get his knee repaired and then found out he needed heart surgery. Just months after getting heart surgery, he was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. He was 60. He died 14 months later.
His greatest love, besides family, was baseball.
His father had taught him the game and he taught each of us–my brother, my sister and myself. He preached the beauty of the game. We watched the Dodgers for years. His father had season tickets and passed them down to him. Now they’re split between the three of us and our mom.
Of all the times to die, he died the day before the 2009 NLCS began. The four of us (myself, my mom, my sister and my brother) went to game 1 the next night and it felt like the Dodgers needed to win. They needed to win for us. They owed us. They owed us that moment that I never got to have with him; that transcendental victory and happiness. They owed dad.
Give not thyself up, then, to fire, lest it invert thee, deaden thee; as for the time it did me. There is a wisdom that is woe; but there is a woe that is madness.