Happy Father’s Day to the Great Gatsby himself! Here are three stories that completely illustrate my father from my perspective:
1. When we were little, Dad would approach teachers and coaches and offer to pay for supplies or uniforms or tournaments for parents who couldn’t afford it. He always offered anonymously and never talked about it to us kids. But one time I heard him on the phone with Coach Heckert, offering to pay for an upcoming soccer tournament. “Don’t say anything, just tell me what I owe you,” he said. I’ll never forget it. Always look for those who are hurting. Include them. And love them. If money means nothing to you, give it away.
2. When we were little, Tori McMillen and I had this obscene fear that our barn would burn down and our horses would die. So we stood watches on thunderstorm nights. Sometimes we would sneak out of our windows and go watch the barn. Dad always knew about our mischievous ongoings and said, “Don’t use the window. Just use the front door.* We’re too far away to hear you.” If you’re going to break the rules, don’t be a moron about it. And your intentions better be damn good. *This came in handy later.
3. I applied to an elite college in the D.C. area and was accepted for my undergrad. I had tennis tryouts and part of the physical was a pregnancy test for females. My test came back positive, which was biologically impossible. I knew the coach and he told me to have my dad fax an ultrasound. I told my dad and we joked about it and he got me in to Omega the next day and came with me. The ultrasound technician stood over me and said, “The baby is healthy, but you’re extremely underweight for seven and a half months.” I started shaking. “Please go get my dad,” I cried. Dad came in and quickly realized that there was a major problem with our expected negative ultrasound. He took my hand and told me to get dressed as he spoke to the technician. On the way home I thought my life was over. A traditionally quiet man, he talked to me consistently, breaking the silence of my own morbid thoughts. He asked me what I wanted. I said to go to school. He took me to school and went home to talk to my mother. A month and a half later when I had Trenton James Andrew, he brought me my favorite chicken parmesan to the hospital and celebrated our family’s new life. Find the good in a crisis. There is always good and there are always helpers. Find them.