When I was in fifth grade I picked a fight with a bigger kid. I thought I was tough but I was just a scrawny, mouthy, little brat. I took several shots to the face before I realized I had made a huge mistake. The kid I picked a fight with was a head taller, had a longer reach and outweighed me by 30 pounds. I, being the quick thinker that I am opted for diplomacy and backed away. I took two steps back and felt a sting across my behind. I turned to see my dad standing there, belt in hand, telling me to get in there and fight. I endured an ass kicking I would never forget. I was humiliated beyond words but I learned a lesson that has lasted a lifetime. It is my dads words that carried me through the battle I have fought for the last nine plus years. It is my dads words that I repeated back to him as he faced his own battle just a few short months ago. "Get in there and fight" You gotta fight dad.
Dad did not pick a fight but he was facing a bully that was far bigger and badder than anything he had ever faced and he did not have a chance at winning.
He was beaten before his battle began.
I always felt I was a disappointment in my dads eyes. Mom always said Dad did not want to bring me home. When I was born my leg was hung up on a rib and I had to be pulled out with forceps. I was purple and bruised and my head was deformed. Mom always said I was the original cone head. I was scrawny and had severe adhd. My first year in school I was diagnosed with peditmal epilepsy. It seemed I was the problem child fresh out the gate.
My dad was a 6' 1" 225lb line backer in HighSchool and played varsity basketball as well. I topped out at a meager 5'7". My freshman year I had yet to break the
5' barrier and I barely weighed 100lbs. Saying athletics were not my forte' was a huge understatement. I was the runt of the litter. All through my freshman year I endured beating after beating until one day I had had enough.
During a week of in house suspension for a fight I had not picked there was a knock at the door. It was some other upper classman and his buddies. I was being told through the door that I was going to get my ass kicked after school. I had had enough. I told the kid to meet me off of school property. I made him wish he hadn't. I am often reminded of the Kenny Rogers song, "Coward of the
County" I beat the kid beyond recognition. I week later I was confronted by a jock in the locker room. Without thinking I turned and landed five or six punches to his face before he even knew what hit him. That was the last fight anyone ever picked with me. I would have 2 more fist fights after high school. In both of them I faced bigger men who had e couple beers and we're looking for a smaller person to beat on. The first spent the next six months with his jaw wired together. The second spent the night in the emergency room withe a fractured cheek bone and a broken nose. I would have felt bad had he not been hitting a girl before I interjected. I still feel a little guilty for ramming his face into a trailer hitch but he had it coming. I had been served divorce papers earlier that day and he picked a fight with the wrong guy.
I never thought about fighting cancer, I just fought. I was convinced in many ways I would take the fight a full 15 rounds. I believe God was standing in my corner. I was like Rocky facing Apollo Ceeed and I had Mick yelling in my face to get in there and fight.
Dad passed 3 weeks ago. At the end, he weighed 150 lbs. He was no longer lucid. He couldn't speak. The truth is, he was gone weeks before. One evening before he went away, I layed on his bed and told him he was my hero. I told him how proud I was to be his son. I told him how much I loved him. It was just the 2 of us. 3 weeks later he was gone. I miss him. I miss him wanting to talk politics every time I saw him. I miss playing music with him. We will never go fishing or hunting again. We will never again share a stage together.
Dad is gone. I will do my best to carry his spirit with me and to bring honor to his name. Today I am smoking salmon. It was always dad who smoked the salmon for Christmas Eve. I brought home his smoker last night and brined the last fish he ever caught. Tears are falling and I am smiling. I love you dad. I miss you. I will always be proud of who I am because you made me this way. I am sorry for the times I know I let you down but I am still standing. Thank you for all you did for me. Thank you for teaching me to stand strong and not back down. Rest in peace. Forever love, your son, Todd
Left to right:
My best friend and best man Tony, My brother and best friend, Jason. I am in the middle. My hero, my friend, and my father, Jay. My best friend and high school buddy Larry. Bairdcreek Rockin' Country.