By Randy Pierce
We are all time travelers in our steady forward journey, but time does not always seem as consistent through the years and key moments of our lives. It was two years ago on November 17, 2012 when my morning began with the early phone call which told me my Dad’s smile wouldn’t be shared with us again. He had stayed so very good at smiling despite an incredibly difficult final few years of his life which saw open heart surgery, strokes and the loss of loved ones.
I have grieved in many ways and on many days since that time and I’ve also learned to celebrate some of the moments we shared. I wish life had more campfire moments with treasured friends to share stories in full glory rather than just a snippet or two online, but for now here are just a couple recollections I hold in my head and heart.
• To my frequent embarrassment then, my dad was the loudest cheering fan in the gym for every one of my games he attended. Now I just realize how much he wanted me to know he was proud and loved me – funny how perspective changes in a moment from one of dismay to one of joy.
• One winter evening in 1980, we were on snow-machines together in the wilds of Colebrook, NH. As an unexpected snowstorm began to arrive, he suggested and led the way for us to ride up to the top of Dixville Peak together. At the summit, the thick rime ice clusters prismatically sprayed the headlights into some wondrous colors. It was beautiful but just a foreshadowing — for when we shut off the machines to just enjoy the peace and serenity, the real treat arrived. We were at the most northern end of the storm and the skies opened up clear to the north despite the lightly falling snow upon us. The Aurora Borealis (Northern Lights) were the most resplendent I’d ever seen in my life and were captured in the air, in the snowflakes, and in the hearts of a father and son sharing one of life’s rare moments. Green and pink dominate my recollection and we just stood silently sharing the moment.
• Amidst his challenging later days, his memory would frustrate him more often than he could stand. One morning he called me having been frustrated at being able to recall the Mighty Quinn’s name. I picked up the phone to hear his frustration as he said: “Randy, what’s Quinn’s name?!” — yes moments of humor are part of the recollection.
• Let’s finish with a touching tale. Dad was in a coma-like state after a fairly massive stroke. I’d heard all the official medical reports and knew about the amount of cranial bleeding. We didn’t know if he’d ever come out of it. It was my third day with him and his arm was on the edge of the hospital bed and I was resting my hand on his forearm. Quinn, nuzzled into my Dad’s hand a couple of times and I felt the forearm go tight and he moved it down to Quinn’s head and gave a clear two strokes onto Quinn’s head. Suddenly he sat up as if realizing the way to the outside world again. It was a long time before he could speak and understand again, but when weeks had passed and we could talk a bit better, I asked him about his first memory. He told me Quinn had come to him and he wanted to tell Quinn what a good boy he was for taking care of me. Effectively, he came back to thank Quinn for guiding his son so safely and well through so much.
My dad had many wonderful qualities and, like all of us, some challenging ones. I grew to love and appreciate him more through the years. There are hard memories and wonderful memories both. Through all of them I always know he loved me and strove to do anything he thought would help me be better prepared for all of what life had to offer. I love him, miss him, and most of all celebrate how fortunate I was to share and keep so many good memories and moments with my dad.
Rest in Peace, Bud–you too were loved.