In a small lil village called Detroit on May 6, 1937 my Dad, Edward George LaDuke was born. Today he would have been 72 yrs of age. On Feb 19 1995 he passed away from a massive heart attack and my life changed forever.
I used to get real shitty about the Feb 19 th day every year. I guess you can't help it at first, but a couple of years ago I started to focus more on his birthday and less on the day the Lord called him home. I had waddled for too long in the despair of what if's and why's that I will never be able to answer.Plus it's not the way he would have wanted to be remembered. Not to dwell on the way he died but what he gave us for when he lived.
I usually would have kept all this bottled up but the one thing I have learned as I have grown older is that if you keep everything bottled up, you soon will explode.
I don't think of my Dad every single minute of every day but inevitably 7 ,10, 30 times through out the day something will pop up and it will link me back to him just for a second. Even on my most shit filled day at least for a moment I will grin & relax. I kinda like to think it's his way of saying " Hey , it could be a lot worse".
My Dad was the one who introduced me to the world of politics. I would sit and watch the evening news with him and listen to the political discussions with my Mom in the living room as a child. Because of my Dad's strong views as a baby I was dubbed the Republican. But as I grew up and listened to him he always stressed that you " vote for the person not the party."
He was so right.
When I joined the Republican party in 1990 he told me to prepare to be disappointed and not to waiver from what I believed. When President Bush 41 broke his no new taxes pledge and I was told by members in the Rep party to be a good party member and not criticize I told them I was a good American first and left the organization before the 1992 election. I never told my Dad that but I hope he would have been happy I took his advice.
I still salute the flag every once in a while just like he taught me when I was 3.
I'm still in absolute AWE of the men and women who serve this country every day in the armed forces just as he served. On many more occasions than I can count, he made sure I understood that these people serve this country to allow us to do what we choose to do every single day, and the least we can do is thank them whenever we see them.
I'm still a Lions fan even though he told me it would never change in his lifetime or mine that they suck. I still remember the times sitting on the couch and watching those football games with him and both of us shaking our heads.
My Dad was born in Detroit and lived there until he and my Mom were married in the late 60's. He didn't agree with what was happening in the city but he loved that city. I can recall a time he called a talk show about the debate at the time of whether Joe Louis Arena should be named after the great boxer or someone else. Dad launched into a story about what Louis meant not only to the black community in a segregated country at the time but what he meant to the whole USA at the time he beat the German champ Max Schmelling before WWII broke out. " He was not only a great person who was black but a GREAT American" I have never forgotten that.
In 1999 the Tigers moved from Tiger stadium to their new home in Comerica park. I never was able to see a game with Dad at the ole ballpark, but he used to tell stories about going their as a kid and with his 3 older brothers at different times in his life.
I went to at least 20 to 25 games that final season just walking around imagining the old stories coming to life in my mind in the place that they had happened so long ago. At the final game there, I walked around for almost a hour and a half after the festivities not wanting to let go of a place he had loved so much. When they finally kicked me out, I felt as though he was taken away again from me in some sort of weird way.
He wasn't though. Since my Dad has physically passed he has been in my heart and mind and he has never left.
I know I can't physically talk to him about the last historic election or the Tigers getting to the series again in 2006. We can't laugh about how bad the Lions sucked last year or watch him tease his two granddaughters like he would have loved to do.
But he is here, and it took me a while to realize that. I am blessed to have had him as a Father and I'm even more blessed that I have my Mom still, my sister and brother, extended family and friends and my nieces who I try to tease in the place of my Dad.
So I ask anyone who reads this take a moment each day and appreciate those that YOU have that are still here with you and keep making those memories that will last a lifetime. Share a laugh, a beer or just a hello. Always let them know that they are important to you.
You never do know when the Lord will call you home!!!